Kyrgyzstan is located in the northeastern part of Central Asia and represents one of the most interesting mountain areas of our planet. The Central Tien-Shan Mountains are located on the northern flanks of the Himalaya mountain range. It covers 925km from East to West and 453km from North to South. The total area of the Kirghiz Republic is 198,500sq km.
The mountains reach over 7000 meters (Pobeda 7439m) at the northeastern edge of the country and in the southern regions (Lenin 7134m) on the border with Tajikistan. Climate changes are extreme, during winter the whole region is covered with ice and snow. Temperature can drop to -30 or -40 degrees Celsius in the capital Bishkek. The summer is warm but not extreme, temperatures can rise above 30 but still it remains pleasant. The ideal birding weather is in the spring and summer. Lake Issyk-Kul remains unfrozen all year round because of its alkaline water. It is over 700 meters deep in places. Located at an altitude of 1600 meters it is the second largest mountain lake after Titicaca in Peru.
Considering the size and location of Kyrgyzstan the number of species that can be encountered is quite good, at least 376 species (Lesser Sand Plover, Ibisbill, Demoiselle Crane being notable examples). The avifauna is influenced by the Himalayas as well as by the birds breeding on the Siberian taiga and Kazakh steppes that migrate through the mountain slopes. The avifauna is mainly familiar with the European species but some interesting subspecies occur of course, (such as Sturnus vulgaris porphyrnotus a Common Starling race that looks like a Spotless Starling).
Issyk-Kul lake is good for many breeding birds like Common Redshank, Kentish Plover, Common Snipe, Little Bittern, Ferruginous Duck and Demoiselle Crane that breeds in the foothills near the lake. In the reed beds Paddyfield Warblers sing together with Cetti’s Warbler. Wintering birds can be expected near the lake, and you can expect some real good surprises. Small numbers of Ibisbill and Solitary Snipe winter near the lake. Also some Pallas’s Gulls and White-tailed Eagles can be expected.
The mountains of Kyrgyzstan show a diversity in typical Himalayan mountainous species and western paleartic species. Expect to see Ibisbill, White-winged Crossbill, Himalayan Rubythroat, Black-throated and Himalayan Accentors, Guldenstadt’s and Eversmann’s Redstart, Upland Buzzard and many species of Rose-Finches and the big and strong Himalayan Griffon Vulture to mention just a few special species. Also European species like Rock and Pine Bunting, Lammergeier, Black Vulture and Chough can be spotted.
Kyrgyzstan is ornithology speaking undiscovered and new discoveries are still being made. Little by little the country is being discovered by birders from Europe but still it remains rather unknown to most.
Tour Leader - Rubythroat Birding Tours
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 297
* Field Guides & Bird Song
For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering Asia as a whole - please see the Asia page of Fatbirder
Birds of Central Asia
Birds of Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan
By Raffael Ayé, Manuel Schweizer & Tobias Roth with contributions from Arend Wassink, illustrated by Dave Nurney , Per Alström, Adam Bowley, Carl D'Silva, Kim Franklin, John Gale, Alan Harris, Ren Hathway, Christopher Schmidt, Brian Small, Jan Wilczur, Tim Worfolk & MartWoodcock | Christopher Helm | Paperback | Oct 2012 | 336 pages | 141 plates with colour illustrations | 14 colour photos | 5 black & white illustrations | 3 colour maps | colour distribution maps
See Fatbirder Review
ISBN: 9780713670387Buy this book from NHBS.com
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
Rubythroat Birding Tours
Rubythroat Birding Tours offers all-inclusive, high quality bird watching and nature holidays in Central Asia. We organize fixed departure tours as well as private, customized tours for small groups. We can organise all tours of our travel programme for small groups, birdtour companies and even private tours are possible. All tours are lead by local experts and/or European top-ornithologists. Come and join us for the Switzerland of Central Asia - a plethora of birds and butterflies awaits you!
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2012 [06 June] - Stig Holmstedt - Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
…Staying in the reserve village Karazhar in small cabins for three nights. Steppe, lakes. Birds: Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Dalmatian Pelican, Flamingo, Black Kite, Pallid Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Red-footed Falcon, Merlin ssp pallidus, Baillon ́s Crake (heard), Demoiselle Crane, Marsh Sandpiper, Great Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Heuglin ́s Gull, Caspian Tern, White-winged Tern, White-winged Lark, Black Lark, Bluethroat, Savi ́s, Moustached, Paddyfield and Booted Warbler, Isabelline Shrike, Rose-coloured Starling…
2013 [07 July] - Andy Reeve
…We stayed in Bishkek for three days waiting to recover lost luggage (don’t fly Pegasus). Interesting birds seen in the city were Eurasian Hobby (1 or 2 daily), Red-rumped Swallow (several daily), Alpine Swift (up to 20 daily), Indian Oriole (1, more seen driving through city outskirts on later dates), and Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1)…
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Checklist Birds of Kyrgyzstan