Wild Bird Trust presents this week’s Top 25, “Arid Birds”. These birds face stressors such as aridity and heat but thrive nonetheless. Some birds made use of microclimates to escape the heat, using shade to keep cool. Others will dissipate the heat form their bodies by dilating blood vessels in their legs or by holding their wings away from their body. But heat is not the only challenge, deserts and semi deserts are by definition, dry. Some birds such as raptors and insectivores get sufficient moisture from their diets. But some need to drink, even daily, like the sandgrouse. The Namaqua Sandgrouse has a unique adaptation which allows the males to absorb water into their abdominal feathers and carry them back to their young. Here we present 25 of these amazing birds. Thank you to everyone who shared images with us this week, your efforts have brought the magical arid landscapes and their birds to life for all of us.

The Berthelot’s Pipit only occurs on the Canary Islands, off the coast of west Africa. Here they stay in semi-desert areas, like this one photographed in the dunes (Edwin Godinho)

Male MacQueen’s Bustards maintain their breeding territories year by year and females like this one will nest nearby her mate’s territory (Dr. Malay Mandal)

Like most desert dwelling birds, Crested Larks subsist mainly on invertebrates and seeds. These larks also need to drink from time to time and will travel to find water (Dhairya Jhaveri)

Short-eared Owls inhabit a wide range of habitats including tundra, marshes and forests but they also do well in dry habitats like prairies and savanas (Harish Chopra)

The Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark prefers dry, open habitats. This is a male, he has distinctive black markings, the female lacks these and is rather indistinct (Vijay Singh Chandel)

The Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse can be found in the semi-deserts of India and the border of the Sahara desert. They drink daily during the cooler parts of the day, typically 2-3 hours after sunrise (Narahari Kanike)

Dusky Grouse are closely associated with dry habitats with Douglas Firs. The Male has a red patch on the side of the neck, which he exposes during the breeding season by lifting the feathers (Tim Nicol)

The Yellow-wattled Lapwing is found in the dry and open parts of India and surrounding countries. Interestingly Lapwings in the south are smaller than those in the north (Ajay Singh Rajawat)

The Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill occurs in the savannas of southern Africa. In arid areas they are restricted to watercourses where there are trees. They need trees as they are cavity nesters, the females seals herself into a cavity while she lays eggs and raises the young, the male brings them food(Michal Richter)

This dry, bare, rocky terrain is typical habitat for these Painted Sandgrouse (Kishore Reddy)

Long-tailed Shrikes are highly opportunistic feeders, hence they use a number of different habitats, including semi deserts (Edwin Godinho)

Grey Francolins are monogamous and the young will stay with the parents until the next breeding season. This francolin was photographed in Dubai by Mukund Kumar

Little Terns are of conservation concern and are vulnerable to a multitude of predators such as gulls and foxes. Recently in Portugal, another predator was discovered, these Eurasian Stone Curlews were found predating a Little Tern nest (Edwin Godinho)

Three-banded Coursers can be found in sandy clearings in the north of Africa and the open ground of woodlands in eastern and southern Africa (Sammy Mugo)

The African Hoopoe, a sub-species of the Common Hoopoe, is found in dry wooded savannas. The name Hoopoe is derived from their call which is a low ‘hoo-poo’ sound (Michal Richter)

This Greater Hoopoe-lark can be found in the Sahara as well as the deserts of the Arabian peninsula and India (Dr Malay Mandal)

Isabelline Shrikes are typically found in semi-desert areas. They require habitat with much open ground as they spend most of their time foraging for insects on the ground (Gaurav Budhiraja)

This beautiful bird is a Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, photographed in Spain by Carlo Galliani

Rufous-tailed Larks breed in open, sparsely vegetated areas. The nest is typically a scrape in the ground, surrounded with grass and twigs (Kishore Reddy)

Sykes’s Nightjars prefer semi-desert and stony habitats, they are most active at night where they will fly over open areas and swamps foraging for flying insects (Vipul Trivedi)

The Tawny Pipit inhabits dry, open areas where they run on the ground, pecking at prey (Anil Goyal)

The Isabelline Wheatear breeds in central Asia and overwinters in south Asia and Africa. Some migrants over winter in starkly different habitats to their breeding range but these wheatears use open and arid habitats in both of their ranges (Ajay Singh Rajawat)

A Desert Wheatear photographed in the grasslands of Rajasthan, India by Anil Goyal

The Indian Courser is a true Indian resident, it has never been recorded outside of the Indian Subcontinent (Gaurav Budhiraja)

A Cream-coloured Courser photographed in Gujarat, India by Dr. Malay Mandal


Our mission is to build a global community around the freedom and beauty of birds in the wild as ambassadors for the natural ecosystems that they depend upon. They are the music, decoration, and character of every terrestrial habitat on the planet and have been around since the dinosaurs. They are the witnesses and ambassadors of the awesome power of nature. The wide availability of good, cheap optics has opened their world to us for the last few decades. Amazing, affordable DSLR cameras with long lenses are delivering brilliant digital bird imagery to online communities.

We are in a day-and-age during which more bird species are threatened with extinction than ever before. The Wild Birds! Revolution aims to publish the “Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week” to 1 million people every week by the end of the year. That is a revolution that will change the world! Join thousands of other weekend naturalists, photographers, birders, experts, hikers, nature-lovers, guides, scientists, conservationists and artists that share the thousands of wild bird photographs submitted to the Wild Bird Trust website and Facebook page. Thousands of wild bird enthusiasts are going out every day to photograph our planet’s beautiful birdlife. Pick up your camera, fill your bird feeder, open your heart, and join the Wild Birds! Revolution!!

Edited by Christie Craig, Campaign Manager