Bald ibis, single bird flying in to roost at sunset, Soussmassa Nation Park, Morocco

Tracking northern bald ibis

The northern bald ibis is the rarest bird in the Middle East. We have been tracking four of them via satellite transmitters.

About the project

We have been tracking four northern bald ibises - two as they left Syria for the winter, and two juveniles released from the semi-wild population in Turkey.

Find out what happened on their journeys here with us. Watch this space for further news on the exciting next steps for this important work!

The Syrian population of northern bald ibises is teetering on the edge of oblivion. In fact, the whole species is Critically Endangered - one step away from extinction. In 2002, the Syrian population stood at seven birds. But despite extensive protection in Syria, numbers are down to three.

But the efforts continue - the Turkish Government has donated ibises to join the Syrian colony, two of which were released in 2010. In 2011, four more juveniles were released, this time directly from Birecik, and following earlier trials, we will learn where they go, and if they can survive, when and whether they return to the colony site. Perhaps they will visit the Syrian colony?

We've already found out that the adult ibises travel to Ethiopia for the winter, but we're not totally sure where the youngsters go. A team of biologists is also attempting to find the birds on the ground, to record details of their habitat and make sure that no illegal hunting takes place.

Hunting and other pressures away from the breeding grounds seems to have been the cause of decline. So satellite tracking the birds is a vital tool for learning how to help the northern bald ibis - the only other wild population is 100 pairs in Morocco.

This international operation couldn't happen without with conservationists, governments, researchers, funders and individuals all working together.

Bald ibis, foraging amongst cereal crop, Soussmassa Nation Park, Morocco

Who's who - meet the birds

Odeinat is an adult male, the father of two fledged juveniles this year - he and his untagged partner Zenobia left on the same day as one of their offspring.

Salama is an adult female - her partner didn't return from migration in 2010, but she continues to migrate and spent the breeding season at the nesting cliff in 2011.

Juv 1 and Juv 2 are the two tagged Birecik juveniles released July 2011 from Birecik with two more.

Amina (female) and Ishtar (male) were 2010 youngsters from Birecik, Turkey.which were released in Syria after a brief settling period. This is the first time such a release had been tried and they successfully migrated to Southern Saudi Arabia, but sadly it appears they didn't survive.

Ameer hatched in the wild in 2010 in Syria and is the offspring of Odeinat and untagged Zenobia - who sadly died after being found in a very weak condition two weeks after leaving Syria in southern Saudi Arabia. We await results of the autopsy.

We get new locations for at least one of the birds most days, so you can watch the story unfold...

Bald ibis, flock flying in to roost at sunset, Soussmassa Nation Park, Morocco

Satellite tracking - Northern bald ibis

2012

Odeinat 2012
  • 08 Feb 2012
  • 05 Jul 2012
  • 20 Jul 2012

2011

Juv 1
  • 23 Jul 2011
  • 28 Jul 2011
  • 31 Jul 2011
Juv 2
  • 23 Jul 2011
  • 17 Aug 2011
  • 09 Sep 2011
Odeinat 2011
  • 24 Jun 2011
  • 21 Aug 2011
  • 26 Nov 2011
Salama 2011
  • 29 Jun 2011
  • 06 Aug 2011
  • 08 Sep 2011

2010

Ameer
  • 02 Jul 2010
  • 08 Jul 2010
  • 17 Jul 2010
Amina
  • 02 Jul 2010
  • 29 Jul 2010
  • 21 Sep 2010
Ishtar
  • 02 Jul 2010
  • 18 Jul 2010
  • 21 Aug 2010
Odeinat
  • 26 Jun 2010
  • 26 Nov 2010
  • 07 Apr 2011
Salama
  • 02 Jul 2010
  • 08 Aug 2010
  • 07 Apr 2011

Releasing the birds in Syria

The video shows 2010 supplementation in Syria and the preparation of the pre-release aviary, the three wild adult Syrian birds in the field, then the newly-released youngsters out of the aviary.

The video shows 2010 supplementation in Syria and the preparation of the pre-release aviary, the three wild adult Syrian birds in the field, then the newly-released youngsters out of the aviary. Some of the Turkish adults are to be kept for breeding in the aviary. The juveniles join Salama, one of the wild Syrian adults, at the lake and then they all fly back to the aviary area. Video kindly provided by Lubomir Peske.

In 2011, four juvenile semi-wild birds were released directly from Birecik, as a trial to see whether they will migrate, and if they survive, will they return to the colony next spring. Two of the four are satellite tagged.

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Northern bald ibis video screenshot