Habbaniya Lake

Country/territory: Iraq

IBA criteria met: A1 (2014)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 45,390 ha

Nature Iraq
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) Threat (pressure) Condition (state) Action (response)
2013 high not assessed negligible
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (baseline)
The site lies just south of the Euphrates between Ramadi and Felluja, 85 km west of Baghdad. Haur Al Habbaniya is a storage reservoir used to control floods on the Euphrates. There is an intake channel at its west end near Ramadi, and water is discharged back into the river during August-October through the Dhibban channel which has vertical sides c.30 m high, cut through the gypsum plateau separating the lake from the river. In addition, a third channel at the south end discharges any excess water into the Bahr Al Milh. The lake's water level thus varies annually by c.6 m, being highest from about the end of April to August and lowest in November-March, when extensive mudflats are exposed at the Ramadi end of the lake where there are also marshes. Most of the above information dates from the 1950s. 2014 update. Habbaniya Lake is located southeast of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Governorate, and west of Baghdad. It is one of the largest water reservoirs in Iraq constructed in 1982 and Evans (1994) included it in the original list of Important Bird Areas (IBA016). It receives excess floodwaters from the Euphrates in the summer through a small canal near Ramadi called Sin Al-Dhuban. The canal passes through Al-Saglawiya and the calcareous Al-Guss hills, which separate the canal from Habbaniya. The excess floodwaters drain out on the southern edge of the lake through the narrow Al-Majarah Canal, which drains to Bahar Al-Milih and the northern part of Razzaza Lake (IQ058) in Karbala Governorate.

Key biodiversity
Sterna hirundo and S. albifrons breed on islands formed during periods of high water levels, and Cursorius cursor, Merops superciliosus and Pycnonotus leucotis breed in the surrounding area (see also below). Large numbers of Platalea leucorodia (200) have occurred in winter. A wide selection of waders, gulls and terns uses the area on passage. Counts of wintering waterfowl have included 300 Anser anser, 84 Tadorna ferruginea and 30 Mergellus albellus, and Grus grus is common. Haur Al Habbaniya was listed as a wetland of international importance by Carp (1980).

Non-bird biodiversity: No information available to BirdLife International.

2014 update. Additional Important Bird Observations: During the surveys, a total of 49 species was recorded. The site also held breeding populations of four Sahara-Sindian Desert biome-restricted species but these did not trigger inclusion under criterion A3. Other Important Fauna: One adult Rüppell's Fox Vulpes rueppelli was observed crossing the road that leads to the site near Al-Angoor Village. Egyptian Spiny-tailed Lizard Uromastycs aegyptia and Desert Cobra Walterinnesia morgani were observed. Fish: Data were collected from interviews alone in the winter of 2009 because high winds did not allow fishermen to go out. Six species were reported. Important species, according to Coad (2010) were: Acanthobrama marmid, Alburnus mossulensis, Leuciscus vorax, Carasobarbus luteus, Liza abu, and Luciobarbus xanthopterus.

Information compiled by D. J. Brooks, reviewed by Dr Khalid Y. Al-Dabbagh and Dr Hanna Y. Siman.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Habbaniya Lake. Downloaded from on 30/05/2023.