Ruppell's Weaver Ploceus galbula, A species typical of the Somali-Masai biome
Because of the long-running war, recent ornithological records for Eritrea are limited and large areas of the country have never been surveyed. In addition, many of the older records do not differentiate between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Eritrea, however, has a large diversity of habitats, altitude and climatic extremes which are reflected in its high biodiversity. These habitats include desert, montane forest, grassland, coastal wetlands and islands.
Five biomes are found in Eritrea and each holds significant species only found in that biome: Sahara-Sindian in which Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus and White-crowned Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga are found; Sahel with Yellow-breasted Barbet Tachyphonus margaritatus and Black Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas podobe; Sudan-Guinea Savanna with Bush Petronia Petronia dentata and Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser superciliosus; Afrotropical Highlands with Black-winged Lovebird Agapornis taranta and White-cheeked Turaco Tauraco leucotis and Somali-Masai with Hemprich’s Hornbill Tockus hemprichii, Rosy-patched Shrike Rhodophoneus cruentus and Ruppell’s Weaver Ploceus galbula.
Of particular significance are large congregations of breeding and wintering seabirds on the Dehalak Archipelago, at other offshore islands and along the coast. There are also large concentrations of breeding and wintering waders including Crab-plover Dromas ardeola. Its geography and range of habitats make Eritrea an important stop-over location for many species of Palearctic migrants including warblers, waterbirds and raptors.
14 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) have been identified in Eritrea. For 10 of these, it has not been possible to estimate the area because of insufficiency of data to define the boundaries. The remaining 4 IBAs cover 4,690 km2 or some 3.7% of the total land area of the country. The list of IBAs is as follows: Western Plain, Barka river; Dehalak archipelago and offshore islands; Semenawi Bahri; Central plateau, Keren; Massawa coast; Ghinda; Asmara escarpment; Arboroba escarpment; Gulf of Zula; Western Plain, Gash-Setit; Southern plateau, Furrus; Mareb escarpment; Senafe and Danakil lowlands.
The Central Ethiopian Highlands which span both Ethiopia and Eritrea is an Endemic Bird Area (EBA).
For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.