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Mongolia

Saker
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug ©Dick Daniels - Creative Commons Website

Birding Mongolia

Mongolia is a landlocked country in East Asia. Its area is roughly equivalent with the historical territory of Outer Mongolia, and that term is sometimes used to refer to the current state. It is sandwiched between China to the south and Russia to the north. Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, although only 37 kilometres (23 mi) separates them.

At 1,564,116 square kilometres (603,909 square miles), Mongolia is the 18th-largest and the most sparsely populated unitary sovereign state in the world, with a population of around 3 million people. It is also the world's second-largest landlocked country behind Kazakhstan and the largest landlocked country that does not border a closed sea. The country contains very little arable land, as much of its area is covered by grassy steppe, with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south.

Mongolia is surely one of the last, most remote and most pristine frontiers on this planet. It is the home of Chinggis Khan. It is a vast country with breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, skyscapes and habitats, ranging from deserts (notably the Gobi) to alpine forests and mountains, from grasslands as impressive as the Serengetti in Africa to salt and fresh water lakes like Huvsgul (the headwaters for Lake Baikal in Siberia which holds 20% of the world's fresh water). There is a rich flora and fauna, even though the country may seem to be a vacant desert to many people. Only 10% of the country is forested.

Mongolia abounds in waterfowl, waders and raptors and small passerines which live in grasslands (larks & finches) and birds which are adapted to alpine terrain and to the taiga of Siberia. The wetlands of northeastern Mongolia (on the border of Russia) are the home of various species of nesting (and endangered) cranes, not to mention many species of geese, ducks and other waterfowl. The salt lakes south of Bayanhongor also have immense concentrations of waterfowl, including Whooper Swans and one of the rarest and least known birds in the world - the Relict Gull. The lakes (both salt and fresh water) in western Mongolia (in Khovd, Bayan-Ulgii and Uvs provinces) are equally rich in waterfowl. And, if you want to see a White-tailed Eagle or a Great Black Woodpecker or Black-throated Loons, try the Lake Huvsgul region.

In the Gobi Desert, there are wonderful species such as the Lamergeier (Bearded Vulture); the Henderson's Ground Jay (like a Roadrunner in the US - running around sand dunes); the Saxaul Sparrow (like a brightly colored House sparrow but living in the unique Saxaul forests in the deserts) and all kinds of other species.

And just west of the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, near the airport, are the gravel ponds. This is an area of extensive ponds, wetlands and grassland where one can easily see many of the common species found in Mongolia, and even some rare ones. It is great for a half-day outing and a picnic out of UB. There is an informal and loosely knit group of birders here who go out on Sundays to the gravel ponds when the water is open. Just last weekend (mid-April); the Citrine Wagtails arrived in force. Brilliant yellow birds, but they won't stay long. They'll be off to the tundra soon.

Contributor

Sheldon R Severinghaus

ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA

sheldorj@sbcglobal.net

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 427

(As at January 2019)

National Bird: Saker Falcon Falco cherrug

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

* 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 Mongolia

By Sundev Gombobaatar & Christopher Leahy | Christopher Helm | 2019 | Paperback | 224 pages, 83 plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9780713687040

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Directory of Important Bird Areas in Mongolia

(Key Sites for Conservation) | Edited by Batbayar Nyambayar & Natsagdorj Tseveenmyadag | Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia | 2009 | Paperback | 103 pages, Colour photos, maps, tabs |

ISBN: 9789992907528

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Mongolian Ornithological Society

Website

The MOS is the only national bird research and conservation organization with public-service status, the oldest and largest memberships (more than 250 official members) in Mongolia. Our vision is “Conserving wild birds for people”. Postal address: P.O.Box 537, Ulaanbaatar 210646A, Ikh surguuliin gudamj-1, MONGOLIA - Phone Number: +976-99180148 - Email: info@mos.mn; mongolianbirds@gmail.com

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

BR Mongol Daguur

Information

Satellite View

Mongol Daguur's steppe and wetlands territory mainly consists of low mountainous landscapes that support a variety of fauna and flora. The biosphere reserve provides nesting and breeding grounds for globally endangered species such as the white-naped crane, while also serving as a migratory stopover site for many rare and endangered species.

BR Uvs Lake Basin

Information

Satellite View

Uvs Lake Basin is an endorheic basin located on the territorial border of Mongolia and Tuva, a republic of the Russian Federation. The basin is part of a combination of raised lands and hollows located throughout the Tannu-Ola and Altai mountainous regions. Here, the world's most northern desert meets the Northern Hemisphere's most southern tundra zone. Animal species that inhabit both mountains and tundra, such as the Siberian roe deer, and Altai snowcock, flourish here. The endangered snow leopard is also present, as well as taiga dwellers such as the Caspian red deer, lynx and wolverine. Steppe dwellers include the Mongolian lark, demoiselle crane and long-tailed Siberian squirrel. Desert inhabitants include the bustard and midday gerbil. The bird species alone number some 359.

NP Altai Tavan Bogd

Information

Satellite View

Altai Tavan Bogd National Park covers 6362 square kilometres and is located south of Tavan Bogd, the highest mountain of Mongolia. It includes the lakes Khoton, Khurgan, and Dayan. The protected area is inhabited by species such as the Argali sheep, Ibex, Red deer, Beech marten, Moose, Snow cock, and Golden eagle.

NP Gobi Gurvansaikhan

Information

Satellite View

The park, at nearly 27,000 square kilometers, is the largest national park in Mongolia, stretching 380 km from east to west and 80 km from north to south. The park is a haven for some endangered species like the argali sheep, snow leopard and Siberian ibex. The eponymous mountains of the park are inhabited by the magnificent lammergeier, or bearded vulture.

NP Gorkhi-Terelj

Information

Satellite View

Park wildlife includes brown bears and over 250 species of birds. The Tuul River flows through the park.

NP Khan Khentii

Information

Satellite View

The Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area is a 12,270 km2 (4,740 sq mi) government administered Strictly Protected Area in the Khentii aimag (province) in Eastern Mongolia. Strictly Protected Areas are regions of land designated by the Mongolian government as wildlife preservation areas.

NP Khustain Nuruu

Information

Satellite View

The Mongolian Government declared Hustai National Park as a Specially Protected Area in 1993, one year after the initiation of the reintroduction project of the Takhi[1] (Przewalski's horse) to the Hustain Nuruu. The HNP extends through the Khentii Mountains and includes the western edge of the Mongolian steppe at the boundaries of Altanbulag, Argalant and Bayankhangai Soums of Töv Province. The park is about 100 km from the capital city of Ulaanbaatar to the west. The 217 species of birds include golden eagle, lammergeier, great bustard, whooper swan, black stork, Daurian partridge and little owl.

NP Tsambagarav Uul

Information

Satellite View

It covers more than 1,110 square kilometres (430 sq mi) in a glacial region which includes Tsambagarav mountain of Mongolia. It has a notable population of snow leopards, amongst other species.

NP WII Khar-Us Lake

Information

Satellite View

Khar-Us Lake - "black water lake") is a lake in western Mongolia in the Great Lakes Depression. It is the upper one in a system of the interconnected lakes: Khar-Us, Khar, Dörgön, Airag and Khyargas.

NR Gun-Galuut

Information

Satellite View

Although limited research has been carried out on the reserve's fauna, 63 mammal species, 81 bird species, three amphibian species and 38 fish species have been recorded, including a number of nationally and globally threatened species. Among the more common mammal species are the gray wolf, Tarbagan marmot, souslik (ground squirrel), pika, vole, fox, corsac and jerboa. Globally threatened species include the argali (mountain sheep), Siberian crane, white-naped crane, hooded crane, black vulture and swan goose. Among the nationally threatened species found in the park are the whooper swan, black stork, great white egret, bar-headed goose, bearded vulture and Eurasian penduline tit.

NR Mankhan

Information

Satellite View

Mankhan Nature Reserve is a reserve in the western part of Mongolia. It is located south of Khar Us Nuur National Park in Khovd Province on the main road between Hovd City and Ulaanbaatar. Most of the area lies in the Mankhan sum. The reserve stretches over 3,000 square kilometres (1,200 sq mi) and has been created in 1993 together with Sharga Nature Reserve to protect the endangered Mongolian saiga. In addition to these antelopes, there are also goitered gazelles.

Wetlands

Webpage

Mongolia currently has 11 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance.

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Ecotours

Tour Operator

The very name Mongolia conjures up images of a vast, remote and distant land — the land of Genghis Khan (Chinggis Khaan) and the Mongol hordes. While Mongolia is certainly vast and much of it is remote, it is also home to an exciting array of poorly known and rarely observed birds that occur only here. As we traverse this vast land we will often be traveling on rarely used roads, and occasionally driving across steppe grasslands, using GPS to navigate our way to exciting wetlands where no roads venture.

Rockjumper

Tour Operator

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2010 [06 June] - Mark Van Beirs

PDF Report

…We recorded 223 species on this tour, including many Siberian specialties that occur as vagrants to European migration hotspots, and came away with finger-licking quality species like Swan Goose, Falcated Duck, Baikal Teal, Stejneger’s Scoter, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Lammergeier, Amur and Saker Falcons, Black-billed Capercaillie, Altai Snowcock, Baillon’s Crake, White-naped and Demoiselle Cranes, Oriental Plover, Pallas’s and Relict Gulls, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Eurasian Eagle and Ural Owls, White-backed and Eurasian Three-toed Woodpeckers, Mongolian Lark, Blyth’s Pipit, Kozlov’s Accentor, Siberian Rubythroat, Güldenstädt’s and Eversmann’s Redstarts, Hodgson’s Bushchat, Asian Desert Warbler, Azure Tit, Wallcreeper, Henderson’s Ground Jay, Saxaul Sparrow and Pine, Meadow and Pallas’s Reed Buntings…

2012 [05 May] - Jon Hornbuckle

Report

…Birding highlights included lekking Black-billed Capercaillies and displaying Oriental Plover and Wallcreeper, a relatively close Altai Snowcock on a snow-covered ridge, a family party of Henderson's Ground Jays, superb views of nesting Lammergeier and Saker, and an unexpected off-course Hodgson's Bushchat. We were too early for peak migration and species such as Chinese Bush-Warbler, unlikely to be seen before late May, but may not have seen Capercaillies displaying had we been later…

2012 [06 June] - Mark Van Beirs

Report PDF

…221 species were recorded on the tour and other highlights included Swan Goose, Stejneger’s Scoter, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Lammergeier, Amur and Saker Falcons, Altai Snowcock, Daurian Partridge, Eastern Water Rail, White-naped and Demoiselle Cranes, Macqueen’s Bustard, Pallas’s and Relict Gulls, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Eurasian Eagle Owl, White- backed and Eurasian Three-toed Woodpeckers, Mongolian Lark, Blyth’s Pipit, Kozlov’s Accentor, Siberian Rubythroat, Güldenstädt’s and Eversmann’s Redstarts, Hodgson’s Bushchat, Pallas’s Grasshopper, Lanceolated and Asian Desert Warblers, Azure and White-crowned Penduline Tits, Henderson’s Ground Jay, Saxaul Sparrow, Asian Rosy Finch and Pine, Meadow, Grey-necked, Yellow-breasted and Pallas’s Reed Buntings…

2012 [07 July] - Graham Talbot & Chris Campion

Report PDF

…It was rather windy and small birds were hard to find, however Shore Larks and Northern Wheatears where everywhere and two Demoiselle Cranes and an Amur Falcon flew over…

2012 [07 July] - Paul Jones

Report

…The commonest sightings on our trip (seen on at least half the days) ended up being Ruddy Shelduck, Cinereous Vulture, Upland Buzzard, Steppe Eagle, Eurasian Kestrel, Saker Falcon (!), Demoiselle Crane, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Pallas's Sandgrouse (!), Rock Pigeon, Common Swift, Fork-tailed Swift, Hoopoe, Mongolian Lark, Asian (Lesser) Short-toed Lark, Horned Lark, Desert Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Isabelline Shrike, Red-billed Chough, Common Raven, Eurasian Tree Sparrow and Rock Sparrow…

2013 [08 August] - Luc Lens & Hilde Eggermont

Report

…Here we saw our first four lifers of the trip, namely Swan Goose, Demoiselle Crane, White-crowned Penduline Tit and Long-tailed Rosefinch. Amraa also found a recently-fledged Yellow-breasted Bunting that quickly attracted its beautiful parents…

2014 [07 July] - Miksture

PDF Report

...The wide range of habitats is reflected in an exciting avifauna which encompasses both Siberian and Central Asian species, including species unique to Mongolia and its immediate surroundings. Prime specialties include Oriental Plover, Asian Dowitcher, Black Capercaille, Swinhoe’s Snipe...

2014 [12 December] - Barbara & Jack Donachy

Report

Urban Birding in the World’s Coldest Capital City: A Winter Walk along Ulaan Baatar’s Tuul River...

2016 [07 July] - Machiel Valkenburg - Russia & Mongolia

PDF Report

The tour commenced in the Russian city of Barnaul in the lobby of the Barnaul Hotel at 7am on the 16th of June, where the participants met with their guides for this tour, Machiel, Lena and Bonny. The diverse group of birders from The Netherlands, Norway, England and the USA introduced each other. We immediately began the long drive towards the Seminskiy Pass in the Altai Mountains. The first birding stop was just outside of Barnaul where we savored a delicious field breakfast. In these meadows, on earlier trips, we had found the endangered Yellow-breasted Bunting but unfortunately this bird has disappeared from this spot; the species has declined all over Siberia. We did however come across our only Common Kingfisher along the meandering river, singing Blyth’s Reed Warblers, several Pine Buntings and a stunning Black Stork flew over.

2017 [06 June] - James Eaton

PDF Report

Overall, we did very well, hitting most of our intended targets in the dry and windy conditions, highlighted by the superlative, 15 minute views of a nervously stationary male Black-billed Capercaillie, quickly followed by our first Chinese Grasshopper Warbler. Moving westwards, our first great saline lake was heaving with birds – Brown-cheeked Rail, Paddyfield and Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers and ‘Mongolian’ Pallas’s Buntings before reaching the Khangai Mountains, a tour highlight, with singing Hodgson’s Bushchats, proper Pallas’s Buntings, ‘Khangai’ Rosy Finches, Altai Accentor, a surprise Black-throated Accentor and a splendid encounter with eight vocal Altai Snowcocks. Heading south into the fringes of the Gobi Desert, Pallas’s Sandgrouse were common and conspicuous, truly wild Mute Swan, Saxual Sparrow, Henderson’s Ground-jay, Oriental Plover, Wallcreeper and Mongolia’s single breeding endemic, Kozlov’s Accentor were all enjoyed.

2017 [06 June] - Phil Gregory - Gobi Dessert & Taiga

Report

...Later that day we had a great experience watching the Przewalksi's Wild Horses (Takhi) in the park, a remarkable creature that has come back from near extinction and looks just like the cave paintings of those horses with erect manes. Beautiful pale buffy and blonde colouration too, a striking creature that is reintroduced here and looks to be doing quite well. Other good mammals here were pikas, Red Deer, Mongolian Gazelle and the wild sheep called the Argali. Birds included Daurian Partridge, Cinereous Vulture, Golden Eagle, Upland Buzzard, Saker Falcon, Rock Petronia and Meadow and Little Bunting, and it was fun getting used to living in a ger, the large circular felt tents so common in Mongolia....

2017 [08 August] - Nick Acheson

PDF Report

We had lunch at a family-owned Ukrainian restaurant and from there visited a wetland in the industrial outskirts of UB. Dirty and industrial it may have been but we saw plenty of birds including hordes of Gadwall and Tufted Ducks with very young chicks (far too young, we felt, to cope with the oncoming Mongolian winter and the urgent need to migrate), a family of four Demoiselle Cranes and clouds of Red-billed Chough. A Long-toed Stint hunkering in the wet grass was a highlight for the birders among you.

2018 [06 June] - Alan Curry

PDF Report

Highlights included prolonged views of a male Blackbilled Capercaillie creeping along the forest floor, a Saker Falcon snatching prey from the ground only a few metres in front of the vehicle, dancing Wallcreepers in the Yolyn Am gorge, and sublime Azure Tits attending a nest hole along the Tuul River. Mammals were also well represented with Przewalski's Horse, two species of Gazelle, Siberian Ibex, Corsac Fox and Tolai Hare all proving group favourites. Add to the mix a constant backdrop of rolling horizons: whether they be forest, steppe or desert, they all ensured that this tour would not be easily forgotten!

2018 [06 June] - Gail Mackiernan

PDF Report

Birds seen around the hotel included great views of three Amur Falcons and a total of at least four Azure Tits. The latter species was on our “most wanted” list and, in fact, this was only site where we saw it. There was a good selection of other birds, including Common Tern, Red-billed Chough, Azure-winged Magpie, Daurian Jackdaw, Hoopoe, Two-barred Greenish Warbler, Red Crossbill, and Hawfinch (the latter three on migration). Peter also saw us off with a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker!

2018 [06 June] - Phil Gregory

PDF Report

...We went to Songino and some riparian habitat along the Tuul River on the first day, when it was atypically hot, albeit with a breeze, and we picked up the first Mongolian birds including Asian Azure-winged Magpie, White-cheeked Starling, a nice assortment of wildfowl and Demoiselle Crane...

2018 [08 August] - Nick Acheson

PDF Report

We then took a break until lunchtime when we ate at a local restaurant called Cozy Nomad and from there went birding at wetlands close to the airport. Here there were plenty of Common Terns, including some individuals of the black-billed eastern subspecies longipennis. With them was a juvenile White-winged Tern. There were plenty of ducks and waders too, including Tufted Ducks, Gadwall with many young, a flock of Black-tailed Godwits, a Common Redshank and a juvenile Wood Sandpiper.

Blogs

Axel Braunlich - Birding Mongolia

BLOG

I have been living in Khovd, a small town at an altitude of 1400m in Khovd Aimag province, western Mongolia, since October 2005. Birding Mongolia is mainly devoted to birding my fabulous local spot here in the valley of the Buyant river at the foot of the Mongolian Altai Mountains. In addition, observations from other regions in Mongolia and conservation news will be included occasionally…

Other Links

Birding Mongolia

Website

I have been birding regularly in Mongolia for more than 16 years now. From July 2005 to October 2007 I lived permanently there; mainly in Khovd near the Altai Mountai…

Birds of Mongolia

Website

What's so great about a list of bird names? After all, the names that men give are just a pale reflection of the birds themselves. Well, bird-lovers may rejoice in biodiversity, but in matters linguistic they tend to use common or garden English as a lowest common denominator. So, in the interest of 'lingua-diversity', here it is: aa list of bird species of Mongolia, with names in Mongolian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Kazakh, and Turkish…

Mongolian Birds

Website

Peter and I were both interested in birds, but Mike was a serious birdwatcher. He'd bought a good pair of binoculars but no field guide, however Chinzo luckily had a bird book that covered Mongolia…

Mongolian Birds Watch

Website

Excellent info and pictures plus sightings.