Beirut River Valley

Year of compilation: 2010

Site description
This site is a deep river valley carved by the Beirut river, extending 20 km eastwards from the outskirts of Beirut on the western slopes of the Mount Lebanon range.

Key biodiversity
The Beirut River Valley IBA, and particularly its upper reaches, is undoubtedly one of the most important locations for raptor migration in Lebanon. Over 70 000 soaring birds of 33 different species were counted over Bhamdoun (33° 48’ 33.72” N, 35° 39’ 35.22” E; 1080 m asl) during the 2006 autumn count alone. This included 51 000 European Honey-buzzards and over 5000 each of Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes, Common Buzzard Buteo buteo and Lesser Spotted Eagle. Ten records of Crested Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus will be the first for the country if accepted by the Lebanese Rare Birds Committee. It is also important for soaring birds in the spring, with White Stork and White Pelican being the major species recorded (c8000 and 3500 respectively recorded in spring 2006). Other migrants, principally European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus, European Bee-eater Merops apiaster and Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica also pass through in large numbers. Nine species with unfavourable conservation status have been recorded here on migration: Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus, Lesser Kestrel,Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus, Saker Falcon Falco cherrug, Red Kite Milvus milvus,Egyptian Vulture, Pallid Harrier, Greater Spotted Eagle and Eastern Imperial Eagle.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The IBA stretches across several municipalities and currently does not have any formal protection. While hunting has an obvious direct effect on birds, there are many other threats which pose a potential or actual risk to the habitats in the IBA. These include fire,urban development, deforestation, water pollution and overgrazing.

Habitat and land use
The river itself is shallow and fast flowing, and lined with tall deciduous trees and dense undergrowth. The northern slopes are dominated by pine woodland while the southern slopes are mostly scrub and cultivated land with a number of scattered settlements. High rocky cliffs dominate the eastern end.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Beirut River Valley. Downloaded from on 25/09/2022.