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Birds seen in or around Luxor

We are not ornithologists!
We are often asked about the birds that can be seen in Luxor generally, and in the grounds of hotels specifically.
We have taken these pictures of birds along the Nile between the Hilton and Jolie Ville hotels, or within the grounds of the Maritim Jolie Ville, and have identified them as best we can from encyclopedias and online sources, with help from people who know more about birds in Egypt than we do.
We believe that the information we provide is accurate but will be very pleased to hear from anyone who knows better.
If you are able to correct any mistakes, please let us know by clicking the 'contact' button. Thank you.

Black-wingged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilts Black-winged Stilts

Black-winged Stilts, also known as a Pied Stilts or Common Stilts, nest on a bear patch near ground water, so you are most likely to see them at the edge of the Nile or the edge of one of the islands in the Nile.

Backs are always black, but the male may have a greenish gloss and the female may be slightly brownish.

The head of both sexes have varying amounts of black and white: the heads of males may be totally white in winter

You will see plenty of birds around most hotels but many felucca and motor boat captains will take you slowly along the edge of the Nile to spot more: nesting, wading and foraging.


Purple Gallinule

The Maritim Jolie Ville hotel offers guided bird safaris four times a week within the grounds of their hotel.

Safaris lasting about 45 minutes are offered on Saturdays and Tuesdays at 06:00 and on Sundays and Wednesdays at 16:00. The cost is LE25 per person per session.

You don't have to resident at the hotel to take part, but advance booking is essential.

Black Kite

The Black Kite breeds in some parts of Egypt, especially the Nile Delta and the Nile Valley, but its numbers are boosted in the autumn and winter migration seasons when others fly between Europe, where they breed, and Africa where they winter.

Black Kites are birds of prey, feeding mostly on carrion, fish, offal and general household rubbish, so they are often seen around rubbish dumps.

Male and female look alike.

Spur-winged Plover is part of the Lapwing family and is also called the Spur-winged Lapwing. It's name comes from a hidden small claw, or spur, in each wing.

It likes freshwater wetlands but is easily seen around town and in the grounds of hotels that have grassy areas.

Some breed locally, but others migrate so there will be many more around in the migration season.

Spur-winged Plover
Spur-winged Plover
Little Green Bee-eater
Little Green Bee-eater

The Little Green Bee-eater is always green although the shade varies. They all have the black mask along their eye and a black beak.

Little green bee eater with bee
Little Green Bee-eater with dinner


The Little Green Bee-eater catches insects on the wing. If it is a bee, they return to a perch to knock off the stinger before eating the rest.

Cattle Egrets have an orange bill and partly yellowish legs, whereas the Little Egrets have a black beak, black legs and are smaller.

The Cattle Egret is normally all white, but in breeding season they have buff-coloured feathers on the crown, back and breasts.

They eat insects that feed on crops, so farmers encourage them. They are often seen on farms following workers who may be disturbing insects.

Cattle egret
Cattle Egret with breeding season plumage
Cattle Egret in breeding plumage

Cattle Egret with more pronounced breeding plumage

The Common Bulbul, also sometimes known as Black-eyed Bulbul or the Common Garden Bulbul, breeds in the Nile Valley, where it is also resident, so you should be able to see it all year round. It tends to be most common in areas where there are plenty of trees and shrubs, or in the dessert where there is plenty of scrub.

They eat fruit, nectar and insects and are often seen in pairs or small groups, on the top of trees or bushes. They tend to be very active and loud, especially just before dusk.


Common Bulbul
Little Bittern
Squacco Heron

The Squacco Heron migrates from europe and parts of the middle east, flying south to Egypt and other parts of Africa between about October and March.

The inside of their wings are largely white, giving the bird a quite different appearance in flight. In the summer, like other herons, the squacco has long neck feathers which can appear to flow down the back when they are in the air.

Squacco herons nest in small colonies, on platforms of sticks above marshy land or on the edge of water, in ditches or in wet fields, often alongside other wading birds.

They feed on fish, frogs and insects.

The Egyptian Yellow Wagtail is one of about 15 yellow wagtails found internationally.

The Egyptian variety is slightly smaller and less bright than others that visit Egypt in the migration season. It lives in the Nile Delta and the Lower Nile all year. The brighter yellow wagtails from Europe and Asia also pass through on migrations.

The yellow wagtail is more timid than the white-bellied, so is less likely to be seen where people gather.

Egyptian Yellow Wagtail
Egyptian Yellow Wagtail
Little Bittern
Striated Heron

Striated Herons, also known as Mangrove Herons, Little Herons or Green-backed Herons, are easier to see than many small herons as they stand on the edge of water waiting for prey: mainly small fish, frogs and aquatic insects.

Like other herons, they nest in a platform of sticks, not far off the ground in shrubbery or in trees, or sometimes in sheltered locations on the ground.

Adults have a black cap, blue-grey back and wings, some grey or white underneath, short yellow legs and yellow around and between the eyes. Younger birds are brown with streaked underparts.


Hoopoes are related to Kingfishers and Woodpeckers, but instead of pecking wood, they peck the ground searching for grubs and worms.

They are widely seen, all year round, in gardens and hotel grounds.

The crest on the head opens up to form a colourful fan shape.

White Wagtails are not as numerous as the yellow variety, and not resident all year. Nevertheless, they are less timid and so they are much more likely than the yellow to be seen when they are in Luxor during the migration season, between autumn and spring.

A sub species, Pied Wagtails, may also be seen in Luxor in the migration season. They have much more black on the back and throat than the white.

White-bellied wagtail
White Wagtail
Pied Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher

The Pied Kingfisher is resident in Egypt so you can see it in Luxor all year round. It nests in burrows on steep banks beside water but will usually be seen perched on branches, posts ... virtually anything above or close to water.

The male has two bands across its breast (like the one photographed). The female has just one band, which may be broken in the middle.

Pied Kingfisher diving for fish
Pied Kingfisher

A Pied Kingfisher will search out its prey and hover over it before diving into the water. It can then consume the fish in flight or may return to a perch with the fish in its bill.

Glossy Ibis

Although two types are extinct, there are still 28 species of Ibis found in various parts of the world from Africa to Australia.

They all have a distinctive long, curved bill, but colours vary: one is even scarlet.

Ibises are listed as wading birds and forage in very shallow water although they tend to live near habitation and can cause problems for farmers. They roost in reeds or low trees and bushes, sometimes alongside heron.

The African Sacred Ibis is mostly white and used to be seen in Egypt, but is now limited to Sub-saharan Africa. The Glossy Ibis has a reddish-brown body and shiny bottle-green wings although non-breeders and juveniles have duller bodies.

Black-crowned Night herons stand still at the edge of water try to catch their prey by surprise. They do this mostly at night but in the daytime they can be seen roosting in trees or shrubs beside the water.

The best way to try to spot them is from a boat moving slowly along the edge of the Nile.

Night Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Grey Heron
Grey Heron

You will see Grey Herons in Luxor all year, mostly along the banks of the Nile and the edges of the sandbanks.

Adults have the black stripe down the crown and otherwise white head, but immature birds have an all-grey head.

They generally sit motionless waiting for prey, but sometimes stalk their target, which may be fish, frogs, insects, reptiles or even small birds.

Purple Heron
Purple Heron

The Purple Heron is smaller than the grey heron and has darker reddish-brown plumage. It also has a narrower yellow bill which is brighter in breeding adults.

Like most other herons, the purple builds a bulky stick nest in reed beds, shrubs or trees so it is most likely to be seen at the edge of the Nile.

It feeds in shallow water on fish, frogs, insects and even small mammals. It tends to keep within reed beds more than the Grey Heron so is less easy to spot.

The Crested Lark does not migrate, so it can be seen all year round in Luxor. It is quite common but fairly well disguised against the ground and shrubs so you have to look carefully for it.

The crested lark nests on the ground and eats weed seeds as well as insects, so you are more likely to find it if you look down rather than up into the trees.

Crested Lark
Crested Lark
Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule

The Purple Gallinule is a marsh bird, found in vegetation along the edge of the river and sometimes the canals, but it is timid, so is not usually seen close-up.

It is resident in Egypt, including Luxor, so you can see it all year round.

The feathers of the Pink-backed Pelican, are not very pink - certainly nothing like a flamingo, but rather a grey and white with an occasional pinkish hue on the back. In breeding season adults have feather plumes on their heads.

The Pink-backed is one of a few pelicans that tend to roost and nest in trees, sometimes very high up. They reuse the stick-nest until it collapses. Some pink-back pelicans and some other pelican varieties nest on the ground.

They prefer shallower and fresh water to deep or saline water, so you might see them in slow-flowing parts of the Nile and backwaters.

Although White Pelicans and Dalmatian Pelicans are not resident in Egypt they may also be seen in the migration season, but not the other 5 pelican varieties.

Pelicans fly with their heads back, whereas herons fly with their necks extended.

Pink-backed Pelican
Pink-backed Pelican
Red Avadavat
Red Avadavat

The Red Avadavat, also known as the Red Munia or the Strawberry Finch is a tiny bird - smaller than a sparrow. It is a native of tropical asian countries but is believed to have been introduced to Egypt as a caged bird. Resident populations in Egypt have probably descended from captives that have escaped or been released.

The bill and rump are always red and the top of the wings are grey, but the amount of red on the rest of the body varies. The most red is seen on the male in the breeding season. The female is duller and has less of the white spotting.

They tend to move around in small flocks.

The Little Egret is a member of the heron family. It is smaller than the Cattle Egret and has black legs and bill.

In the breeding season, the adult has two long plumes on the back of the head and long feathers on the breast.

Resident populations in Egypt may be joined in migration season by others moving south from Europe.

Little Egrets are plentiful all year and will be seen in the grounds of hotels and houses as well as along the Nile.

Little Egret
Little Egret in breeding plumage
Senegal Thick-knee Senegal Thick-knee

The Senegal Thick-knee is related to the Stone Curlew. The Senegal Thick-knee is resident and breeds in the Nile Valley. The Stone Curlew is similar but bigger and a native of Europe that only winters in Egypt (and other parts of Africa).

Its single black bar on the folded wing is the easiest way to tell the Senegal Thick-knee from the Stone Curlew, which has a black-white-black combination of stripes in the middle of the wing.

The Senegal Thick-knee is listed as a wader, but really prefers dry open areas close to water.

The Egyptian variety of the Swallow has a russet breast. The European Swallow has a white breast and can also be seen in Luxor during the migration season. Sometimes they are seen flying together.

Swallows feed on flying insects, which they catch in flight. Although they can walk, they are rarely seen on the ground, spending most of their time on the wing or perched.

They generally hunt in large flocks and are very agile in flight.

Swallow. The Egyptian Swallow has a russet breast

The African (or Common) Stonechat is about the size of a Robin and its wings have a similar pattern to a sparrow from the back. In the spring and summer the male has a black head, orange-red breast and white patches on the collar, wings and rump. In the winter the colours are less bright. The female lacks the black head and has less white around the neck. Her other colours are a ' faded' version of the male.

The stonechat eats all sorts, including caterpillars, moths, insects and sometimes worms and snails. They also feed on seeds and berries in the autumn and winter.

They nest in dense shrubs, so look down for them, not in the trees.



Domestic ducks are plentiful in Luxor, both on and around the Nile and in household gardens. They have been bred as a food source in Egypt since ancient times.

Original breeds include Pekin, Aylesbury, Rouen, Call, Indian Runner, Khaki Campbell, Cayuga, Albio, Maya, and Tsaiya but these are interbred to produce desired food types and egg production rates.

Some ducks escape into the wild and can easily be seen on the Nile and side-waters.

Domestic White ducks
Domestic white duck
Wood Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpipers are quite common from the north of Scotland in the UK, through to Europe, Africa and Asia. For the winter season they migrate to Egypt and other parts of Africa, where they are usually found on fresh water. They are waders and forage by probing in shallow water or on wet mud. Their main diet is insects and similar small prey. They nest on the ground or might use an abandoned old tree nest. In Luxor you will be most likely to see them in shallow water on the edge of the Nile.

Fan-tailed Warbler?

Possibly a Fan-tailed Warbler

The Laughing Dove is the most common dove in built-up areas throughout Egypt. It has pinkish-brown upper parts with blue-grey wing edges.

They build stick nests in trees and feed on grass, seeds, grain and small insects. They can be seen all over Luxor all year round.

Laughing Dove
Laughing Dove

Hooded Crow Pied Crow

The Pied Crow is widespread in Egypt and throughout Africa, especially in areas where people live.

It has a glossy black head, neck, tail and wings and a large area of white feathering from the shoulders down to the lower breast.

Food for the pied crow includes insects, eggs, grain, peanuts, carrion and scraps discarded by people and even small reptiles, small mammals and young birds.

Although most of their food is gathered off the ground, they nest high up, typically in tall trees or artificial structures such as telegraph poles.


Hooded Crow

The Hooded Crow has a lightish grey body and black head, throat and tail. The House crow is found further east than Luxor and is darker grey with less black to the head.

Hooded crows build large stick nests high in trees or pylons and are easily seen in most hotels and other residential areas throughout Luxor.

The Greylag goose, once known as the Wild Goose, is usually found in the UK, Iceland, Scandinavia and Europe, through to Asia and China, but not frequently in Africa, so this one must have been on holiday. They are the ancestor of most domestic geese. Greylags in the coldest parts do migrate in the winter, but not too far - for example from the north of Scotland to the north of England rather than to Africa. They fly south quite late in the migration season, which is where the 'lag' part of the name is said to originate (it lags behind other geese).

Greylag Goose
Probably a Greylag

This page updated October 2012

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