12 July 2016

Arabian Magpie in Tanoumah – Records by Ahmed AlKassim

The taxonomic position of Arabian Magpie is currently uncertain, although it is generally regarded as a subspecies of Eurasian Magpie. The latest IOC World Bird List regards it as such, though, however, there is a caveat saying “MtDNA phylogeny suggests that Eurasian Magpie comprises several potential species including Asir Magpie P. asirensis”. In a number of recent publications, however, P. p. asirensis has been listed as a separate species P. asirensis due to isolation within a very restricted range and differences in vocalizations and structural features suggested that treatment as a separate monotypic species is warranted. Arabian Magpies are sedentary and localised and occur especially in the juniper forest zone, often in well vegetated upland valleys and wadis, of the Asir highlands 1850–3000 m asl. Many of these areas are remote and difficult to access so the exact numbers of birds is difficult to assess but the estimated breeding population has been noted as a minimum of 135 pairs and a maximum of 500 pairs (Jennings 2010). The spcies has a very restricted range in southwest mountains from Abha to An Numas north of Tanoumah. Birds are regularly seen in the Tanoumah area and Ahmed AlKassim managed to photograph two on the top of a juniper bush. Ahmed has very kindly allowed me to use his photo on my website which is shown below, the copyright of which remains with Ahmed.
Arabian Magpie