An upland area at the southern end of the Jibal al-Sharqi (Anti-Lebanon) range, 50 km by road from Damascus, and centred on Abu Zad, a small village with small orchards and very small fields lying at 1,500 m above the resort village of Bludan. The nearby village of Halbun is at 1,700 m. To the west, vertical cliffs fall to Zabadani far below, and mountains to the north-east rise steeply to 2,462 m within c.10 km. The land above the village is open, with sparse grassland, scattered scrub and bare rock, and is snow-covered in winter.
See box for key species. A diverse assemblage of breeding species characteristic of upland Mediterranean habitats which are rare and local in the Middle East. Other confirmed or probable breeding species include Circaetus gallicus, Buteo rufinus, Aquila chrysaetos, Alectoris chukar, Hirundo rupestris, Melanocorypha bimaculata, Lullula arborea, Eremophila alpestris, Monticola saxatilis, Sylvia hortensis, Lanius collurio, Pyrrhocorax graculus (seen in winter 1938/39), Rhodopechys githaginea and Emberiza melanocephala. Winter visitors include Prunella collaris.
Non-bird biodiversity: No information.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
In the mid-1970s there was some shooting of passerines in the orchards, but the uplands did not appear under any threat. The area around Bludan is a popular site for second homes, and built development is increasing: Bludan has grown enormously in the last 20 years and is now joined to Zabadani below.
Data-sheet compiled by M. I. Evans.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Abu Zad. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 05/02/2023.