Lake Burullus

Country/territory: Egypt

IBA criteria met: A1, A4i, A4iii (2012)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 110,089 ha

Nature Conservation Eqypt
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
1999 not assessed high not assessed
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Site description (2001 baseline)
The Protected Area is composed primarily of Lake Burullus, a large, shallow, fresh-to-brackish coastal lagoon located between the two Nile branches forming the delta. It is elongate in shape extending for c.54 km from east to west with a width of 6–21 km and an estimated average depth of 75–100 cm. The lake is separated from the sea by a broad, dune-covered sandbar, which varies in width from a few hundred meters in the east to 5 km in the west. There are some 50 islands scattered throughout the lake with a total area of 0.7 km². On average, 50–70 million m³ of slightly saline, nutrient-rich water enters the lake annually from the south via six drains. Bughaz El Burullus, located in the north-east corner of the lake, is the only direct connection between Burullus and the Mediterranean. Salinity in the lake decreases towards the south and west as the distance from the Bughaz increases, becoming fresh near the outflows of drains and canals that flow into the lake from the south. Consequently, the north shores of the lake are dominated by saltmarshes and mudflats, while the southern shore is bordered by an extensive fringe of reed-swamps (mainly Phragmites and Typha), which currently covers more than 25% of the lake area. Lake Burullus has abundant submerged vegetation, dominated by Potamogeton, which is densest in the southern portion of the lake. Burullus is by far the least disturbed and damaged of the delta wetlands and its environs still retain some aspects of wilderness, which have been lost throughout most of the delta.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. Burullus is one of Egypt’s most important wetland for wintering waterfowl, holding a total of 98,887 in winter 1989/90, the second-largest concentration recorded in Egypt that winter. The lake supports the largest numbers of some wintering waterfowl in the country, including Anas penelope, Anas clypeata, Aythya nyroca, Aythya ferina, Fulica atra and Tringa totanus. Burullus is one of the most important wintering grounds for Aythya nyroca in the eastern Mediterranean. Because of its relative isolation, Burullus is also an important breeding site for several waterbirds and wetland species. About 35 species of birds are known to breed, of which the most prominent are Tachybaptus ruficollis, Ixobrychus minutus, Porphyrio porphyrio, Sterna albifrons, Charadrius alexandrinus, Vanellus spinosus, Glareola pratincola, Caprimulgus aegyptius, Ceryle rudis, Centropus senegalensis and Acrocephalus stentoreus. The endemic delta subspecies of Calandrella rufescens (Calandrella rufescens nicolli) probably has its largest population in the vicinity of Burullus.

Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: the Mediterranean shore of the lake is a potential breeding site for endangered marine turtles—Caretta caretta (EN) is known to breed locally. Mammals: Felis chaus is known to occur in numbers.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Lake Burullus. Downloaded from on 02/12/2023.