myna is a common bird found in the uae

Birds of the U.A.E.

Having recently borrowed my sister, Sophia’s, 70-300 mm lens, I venture out to the great outdoors (read: the open area behind my office building) for some bird watching and photography. These birds of the U.A.E. are more often seen during the cooler months.

Taking pictures of birds is quite challenging. They sit prettily, looking all posed for a beautiful picture. They remain in that ideal pose and wait for you to play with the lens until you get that perfect focus.

And in that fraction of a second when you’re just about to hit the shutter release button, they conveniently fly away.

Here are some birds found in the U.A.E.

The House Sparrow:


This is probably the most commonly sighted bird here in the U.A.E.

The House Sparrow originated in the Middle East and spread—along with agriculture—to parts of North Africa then later to the rest of the world, through natural and ship-borne dispersal.

The House Sparrow is strongly associated with human habitations and can live in urban or rural settings. It feeds mostly on the seeds of grains and weeds, but I’ve seen them eat french fries and pizza as well.

Interesting fact: Described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, the House Sparrow was among the first animals to be given a scientific name in the modern system of biological classification.

The Red Vented Bulbul:

Birds in the uae


Mainly the residents of India, these birds have found their way to the U.A.E., and you can frequently spot them during the cooler months.

The Red-vented Bulbul is easily identified by its short crest giving the head a squarish appearance. The body is dark brown with a scaly pattern while the head is black. The rump is white while the vent is red. The black tail is tipped in white.

Red-vented bulbuls feed on fruits, petals of flowers, nectar, and insects.

Interesting fact: These birds are considered pests because of their habit of damaging fruit crops.

The Common Myna:

birds of the gulf

dubai birds

The Myna is an open woodland bird with a strong territorial instinct and has adapted extremely well to urban environments.

The Common Myna uses the nests of woodpeckers, parakeets, etc. and has been known to evict the chicks of previously nesting pairs by holding them in the beak. This aggressive behaviour is considered to contribute to its success as an invasive species.

Interesting fact: The Common Myna widely appears under the name saarika in Indian culture from Vedic times, featuring both in classical Indian literature (Sanskrit) as well as in Buddhist texts.

The Laughing Dove:

The Laughing Dove is a small (but very pretty!) pigeon that is a resident breeder in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East east, and the Indian Subcontinent.

The species is usually seen in pairs or small parties and only rarely in larger groups. Larger groups are formed especially when drinking at waterholes in arid regions.

Interesting fact: This particular Laughing Dove is observed to what seems like looking after its sick companion. They were sitting near a water basin and wouldn’t leave each other.  Here’s a picture of them together:

laughing dove


If you enjoy bird photography and are planning to take it seriously, I highly recommend a good telephoto lens. The one I use is this one:

As you can see, I’m able to take sharp images with this lens. You can never tell how far away I was from these birds!

The White-eared Bulbul:


These birds are found in Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, north-western India, and on the Arabian peninsula.

In the U.A.E., you’ll find parties of these birds in every little oasis of greenery, as they pick away at insects and grains.

Couldn’t find any interesting facts about them, sorry.

The Hoopoe:


My favourite from this post! The Hoopoe is a very beautiful bird that is widespread in Europe, Asia, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. It is notable for its distinctive ‘crown’ of feathers.

The Hoopoe is monogamous, although this means that the bond merely lasts for a single season. They are also territorial, with the male calling frequently to advertise his ownership of the territory. Birds will try to stab rivals with their bills, and individuals are occasionally blinded in fights.

Interesting fact:

Hoopoes appear in the Quran in Surah Al-Naml 27:20–22 in the following context:

“And he (Solomon) sought attendance among the birds and said: How is it that I see not the hoopoe, or is he among the absent? I will surely punish him with a severe punishment or slaughter him unless he brings me clear authorization. But the hoopoe stayed not long and said, “I have encompassed [in knowledge] that which you have not encompassed, and I have come to you from Sheba with certain news.”

What types of birds do you commonly see in your area?


    1. Thank you so much, sis! There’s something about photography that is so relaxing and de-stressing. Whenever I feel like I’m stressed out at work, I just pick up the camera and go outside 🙂

  1. The other day Vick and I were at the park and saw some robins. They’re supposed to fly south for the winter. Maybe it’s an early spring! I liked this post!

    1. Robins are such cute little birds, ‘liya. It’s early spring already? I’m not ready to let “winter” go just yet, haha. For you it’s spring but for us next season is summer!

  2. hello, Nadia… ahaha, what an interesting and lovely post! for your first venture “in the great outdoors,” you surely did great, my! i had fun reading this article. the experience was like reading children’s encyclopedia again with updated pics and adult quips, haha. yes, the hoopoe is handsome and cute. appreciate your including bits of taxonomy (hihi) in your discussion. btw, the blurred rendition in most pics is really admirable. ikaw na! have a good day, friend. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, ‘San! Children’s encyclopedia with adult quips? That sounds very illegal, haha.

      I went out again today hoping to see that handsome hoopoe. Sadly, I didn’t see it again.

      The blurred background is easily achieved when you use that zoom lens. It focuses on the subject and blurs out the rest. I really like it too. It keeps away the distracting background.

      1. you’re welcome, dear. it is indeed a lovely post. why, i just described your narration – if it sounds illegal, it is somebody’s fault, hahaha. 😉

        uh, uh, you shouldn’t have told me how it is done… let me be mesmerized by the artistic rendition of the scenes. i do not know anything about photos, anyway, much less about taking them, hehehe. i just happen to know how to spot real good ones, yours among them, hehe.

  3. bulbul must mean something like song or singing, right? in Armenian we have a saying that goes “you sing like blbul” 🙂 I guess that’s where it comes from?)

    1. Hello, Art! You are absolutely right 🙂

      Bulbul has been used in Persian poetry to refer to the melodious nocturnal song sang by birds, specifically the nightingales.

      1. Ahhh, well, now I see 🙂
        Yeah, we’ve got a good number of Persian words in Armenian)
        Beautiful birds, though. In the summertime my neighborhood is full of hoopoe. We call them hopop 🙂

        1. Even my language, Urdu, has a lot of Persian words. It’s fascinating to know that Armenian also contains Persian words!

          I like the name hopop 🙂

          1. We had a lot things in common with Persia, not only the language, but even same pagan gods and names for them. So our two countries are like sisters, though one is Muslim, the other one Christian 🙂

  4. All the birds in this post can be found in Malaysia, except for the hoopoe. That one I am not so sure, mybe because I’ve never seen it before. On top of that, because we have quite a number of lakes and rivers, we also have the Kingfishers of various species and colours. And oh yes, not to forget the Hummingbirds. And the Crows. And Doves. And Magpies.

    And if you are lucky enough, in some villages and suburban areas there is this big, white bird that resembles an eagle (but not an eagle for sure) that only comes out to hunt at night. I do not know what it’s named, but I’ve encountered several breathtaking moments with this bird as it flew very low on top of my head and finally perched on a branch, looking for food (mice, and also small kittens!). The flap of its wings and the whiteness of its feathers will definitely give you goosebumps if you saw it the first time… oh! enough of my story…

    1. Ati, now I’m really curious about that nocturnal white bird! You must really find out its name for me or I won’t be able to sleep at night now 😉

      Your place sounds like a great place for bird watching and photography! I’ve heard the bird park in KL is very impressive.

    1. I know what you mean, Grace! Before coming here, I was under the impression that you’d only find falcons here and that too perched on the hands of a kandura-clad men. How wrong I was! The UAE is home to so many beautiful birds.

  5. Crispy photos! You’ve used the 300mm spectacularly.
    ‘Bird Watching’ at times might sound little boring but it becomes great fun once you have developed a relationship with them. Every winter evening, hundreds of sparrows chirp on the lone bare-tree in our courtyard. Few years back, a group of 4-5 wild parrots too used to greet us every morning.

    1. Thank you, Raheel!

      Must have been quite a noise those hundreds of sparrows make! A loud chirpy chorus every evening – must really be something. I’m wondering why those wild parrots didn’t find their way back to your courtyard again. I hope nobody’s caught them or anything.

      In Karachi, I mostly see crows and eagles. Don’t remember seeing parrots.

  6. aww i LOVE bird watching and all of these birds are also here in Lahore.. i didnt know the dove was called the laughing dove! i see these doves very rarely here, but they look so delicate and pretty.

    there are A LOT of mynas here, always roaming around as couples hehehe

    loved your wonderful shots 🙂

    1. Thank you, Mubi!

      I didn’t know those pretty birds are called Laughing Doves either! I searched online and learned that that’s what they’re called. Really delicate birds, I agree with you.

      We were at Delhi railway station yesterday and saw a lot of mynas. They were probably 30-40 in all and were competing with the pigeons and crows for food.

  7. yes i m late … but as the saying goes “it’s better late than never” …. so ur office backyard is a happening place 🙂

    …. all the photos are amazing and it’s true take birds photograph is not easy – one need patience ….. no need to say u r a good photographer …. now enjoy ur photography in Delhi !!

    1. Thank you, Sharmila!

      My office backyard is a happening place only between November and April, then all these pretty birds migrate to Oman where summer is a little more bearable 🙂

      I couldn’t take much photos in Delhi, unfortunately. Whenever I had time and opportunity, the weather was too foggy and cold. And whenever the weather’s nice and clear, I didn’t have time and opportunity to take pictures.

  8. Very nice post and pics!
    I just wanted to add some of the birds i see because i’m a bird watcher
    Crows, purple sunbirds, swifts, colared doves and my favorite indian ringnecked parrakets

    1. Hello
      I rescued a swift in Dubai and want to release it preferably in a place with other swifts. Have you seen any swifts in late May? If so where? Please tell me so I can release it in a suitable place

  9. Lovely pictures !
    The descriptions were very welcome .
    Enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading about them

  10. I watched a Red Vented Bulbul in my garden tree change its hood colour to match the flame tree as it was scared by a dove nearby – this bird is a camelion!!

  11. I saw a very small rather smallest total black & somewhat cylinderical bird in Al Ain Oasis. Unable to find its reference.

  12. Masha Allah! May Allah bless u.. Very helpful blog and awesome photography sister.. Looking forward for more stories from u.. Jazakallah…

  13. I ended up on this lovely post after my daughter found a Sparrow chic on our balcony. We are trying to nurse it until it can fly away. A good challenge insha’Allaah hopefully during this blessed month.

    Hope you’re still snapping away.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I pray the little sparrow is doing well and can soon be on its way. This experience will impart such a good life lesson to your daughter.

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