The Lady Birder of Egypt

Thursday December 5, 2019           By: WoE

“The study of birds was one of the most beautiful and bravest decisions I made in my life. It is a new and difficult specialty here because of the lack of necessary basic equipment and tools.” ـــ  Basma Sheta

Basma Sheta

Professor of Ornithological Basma Sheta earned her PhD in Zoology from Damietta University,  specializing in bird ecology. As a woman growing up in a conservative society, it was not easy for Sheta to convince her professors and society about being a bird ecologist as birders work in difficult environments and harsh conditions, riding in boats with fishermen and climbing mountains.

It was even more challenging for her as a woman to establish bird ecology in Egyptian academia, not only because it was an uncommon field, but men avoided it due to its difficulty, limited resources and lack of funding.


The beginning was hard, but Sheta’s work was admired and many offered to help, especially people she met in the streets, while doing fieldwork. “People were eager to know what the binocular is and how to look through it and what are the names of birds and the importance of their counting and monitoring,” she said.

A long day at Burullus Lake

She traveled across Egypt and abroad to study various birds species in their habitats. Her Ornithological researches are published in local and international journals. She is also classified as a bird expert among all Egyptian universities.  Her academic journey and researches inspired more students to enter the field of birds. “Surprisingly, the vast majority of my students now are girls!” she added.

Surveying in urban habitats near Cairo

Sheta’s next big dream is to establish a large lab for ornithology studies, for students in Egypt and from all over the world who are interested in bird ecology. “We need here more moral and funding support. We need more opportunities for us to attend international conferences and meet worldwide ornithologists to show what we did and to be a part of the big ornithological society,” she concluded.

Basma helping with bird ringing

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  1. A wonderful story. Congratulations to her for persevering and following her passion. I am sure there are lots of birds to study as it would be a major route for birds leaving Europe for winter.


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