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 frest 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.
Sheldon R Severinghaus
Number of Species
National Bird: Saker Falcon Falco cherrug
Number of bird species: 404
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Birds of Mongolia
Axel Braunlich Helm 2007
ISBN: 0713687045Buy this book from NHBS.com
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
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2006 [06 June] - Chris Bradshaw
…we were soon seeing our first Mongolian birds. Familiar species included Little Ringed Plover, Northern Wheatear, Chough and Raven. However, proof that our long journey was going to provide more exotic fare was provided by sightings of Demoiselle Crane, Isabelline Wheatear, Thick-billed Warbler, Yellow-breasted Bunting and Pine Bunting. A showy Azure Tit delighted us at close range, whilst overhead there were flocks of Pacific Swifts and a displaying Booted Eagle. A great start…
2006 [06 June] - Mark Beaman
…This vast country, with just a few million people in a territory that would swallow Britain, France and Spain combined, is, as the Mongols say, the land without fences. Here you can wander, almost as free as a bird, and pitch camp wherever takes one’s fancy, whether amongst the high, snow-capped mountains, in the cool larch forests, out in the wide open steppe or beside a lake in the Gobi Desert. During our two and a half weeks in this marvellous country we recorded 216 bird species…
2010 [06 June] - Mark Van Beirs
…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
…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
…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
…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
…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
…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
...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
Urban Birding in the World’s Coldest Capital City: A Winter Walk along Ulaan Baatar’s Tuul River...
2015 [05 May] - Richard Coomber - Eastern Steppe & Gobi Desert
...We had good views of Relict Gull, White-naped and Demoiselle Cranes, White-tailed Eagle, Swan and Bar-headed Geese, Père David’s Snowfinch, Pine and Pallas’s Reed Bunting and so much more.
2015 [06 June] - Brian Gibbons - Gobi Desert, Steppe Grasslands & the Land of the Khans
...Our greatest diversity of birds in the Gobi was at a few massive lakes that produced Relict Gull, Pallas’s Fish-Eagle, and loads of waterfowl and shorebirds. Finally wending our way back to Ulaanbaatar, we had a day of snow and a glorious morning for our last day of birding this wonderful country.
2016 [07 July] - Machiel Valkenburg - Russia & Mongolia
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.
Mongolian Ornithological Society
Mongolian Ornithological Society - Ulaanbaatar 210646A, P.O.Box 537. MONGOLIA. Tel: 976-11-323970; 976-99180148, Fax: 976-11-320159 - firstname.lastname@example.org - The Mongolian Ornithological Society is one of the main bird research and conservation organizations in the country. The Society has intensively organized bird research and conservation activities in collaboration with the National University of Mongolia….
Mongolia presently has 6 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 630,580 hectares…
Axel Braunlich - Birding Mongolia
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…
Birding and conserving wildlife…
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
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…
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
Excellent info and pictures plus sightings.