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Republic of Estonia

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis ©Remo Savisaar Website

Birdwatching In Estonia

Estonia is a small country on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The area of the country is only 45,200 sq km, but its landscape is quite varied. Estonia has over 7,000 rivers and brooks, 1,500 lakes, and nearly 1,000 maritime islands and islets. The largest islands are Saaremaa (2,700 sq km); Hiiumaa (1,000 sq km) and Muhu (200 sq km). The largest lakes are Peipsi (3,600 sq km) and Vortsjarv (270 sq km). Estonia is a wooded and swampy country – nearly 40 percent of the area is covered with forests and 20 percent with marshes.

Estonian territory can be roughly divided into Lower Estonia and Upper Estonia. West Estonia, North Estonia and the basins of Lake Peipsi and Lake Vortsjarv belong to Lower Estonia, while Upper Estonia can be divided into the Estonian watershed and South Estonia. The average altitude is 50 m, while the highest point (Suur-Munamagi Hill) rises 318 m above sea level. West Estonian Biosphere Reserve, four National Parks, five Nature Reserves and 480 various protected areas are all part of an effort to preserve Estonia's flora and fauna. The total area of the protected territory makes up about 10 percent of Estonia. There are 210 protected plants and 300 animal species that are endangered or rare and stand in need of special protection.

Estonia's bird fauna includes 332 species, 222 of which are breeding birds. [The number of bird species on the Estonian territory established as at 01.01.1994 is 332. Of these 206 species are regular breeders (in addition, 11 species breed irregularly and 5 occasionally); 38 regular transit migrants and winter visitors (in addition, 11 species are regular transit migrants and/or winter visitors). The remaining 70 species are vagrants - data by the Estonian Rarities committee. Extract from: E Leibak, V Lilleleht & H Veromann - Birds of Estonia. Status, Distribution and Numbers. ]. Because of a favourable geographical position in the East Atlantic flyway, millions of birds pass through Estonia in spring and autumn. Along the northern coast an impressive migration of waterfowl and shorebirds takes place during the autumn. At the same time, millions of passerine birds are flying along the coasts of Lake Peipsi and West Estonia. Up to 30,000 common cranes also use Estonia as a resting ground during their autumn migration.

In the spring, thousands of diving ducks, long-tailed ducks, scaup, common scoter, velvet scoter, and black-throated divers are concentrated in Riga Bay and Vainameri. As many as 100,000 Barnacle Geese may use West Estonia as a stopover during the spring migration. Estonia is also a very important spring staging area for Bewick's Swan. During moult migration in July and August, up to 200,000 common scoter pass through Estonia.

Besides the excellent possibilities of watching the bird migration, Estonia also has many localities with rich breeding faunas. At some of these localities you can watch breeding birds in summer and migrating birds in spring and autumn.

All the foregoing is from: Aivar Leito - Bird-watching Localities in Estonia.


Dr. Jevgeni Shergalin

Tallinn - Estonia


Number of Species

Number of bird species: 357

221 Breeding

National Bird: Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica


iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

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Useful Reading

Birds of Estonia

- Status, Distribution and Numbers Edited by Eerik Leibak, Vilju Lillileht and Heinrich Veromann 287 pages, 2 maps. Estonian Ornithological Society

ISBN: 9985500318

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Eesti Linnuatlas

Eesti Haudelindude Levikuatlas Estonian Bird Atlas: The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Estonia Edited by O Renno 256 pages, 224 figs, 229 maps. Valgus

ISBN: 5440010742

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Finding Birds in Estonia

by Dave Gosney| 2011 | Easy Birder | DVD ISBN 9781907316302 | Softcover Booklet ISBN 9781907316296
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 9781907316302

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information


The tradition of nature conservation in Estonia is over 70 years old. Our first nature reserve (that of Vaika, the present Vilsandi State Nature Reserve) was founded as early as 1910. Our first nature conservation law was passed in 1935. The one in force at the present time dates back to 1957. To date Estonia has one national park, 4 state nature reserves and 29 various partial reserves, all of these covering 5% of its territory. Other protected objects include 37 landscape elements, 47 parks, 3 dendroparks, 11 orchards and a number of old fruit-trees, 222 erratic boulders and boulder-strewn areas, 330 old trees and copses, 59 plant and 198 animal species.

From: An Ornithological Journey through the Estonia S.S.R. Guide to an excursion for the participants of the 18th International Ornithological Congress (Moscow, August 1982). Tallinn Valgus press. 1981. Edited by E.Kumari. Introduction. Pp.3-4.


Eagle Club

The Eagle Club is a non-governmental organisation whose members have studied, observed and protected eagles for decades. Currently, the Eagle Club comprises 25 members who occupy themselves with research on eagles and black stork and their protection in Estonia. They include both specialists in ornithology and nature conservation, foresters, and also enthusiasts of nature and eagles protection…



Estonian Birding/Twitching Club run by keen Estonian birders. Our main purpose is to give up-to-date information on local rarities and other bird related news. Plus you can find some trip reports and articles. Our gallery has 1000+ photos of Estonian and world birds, local rarities, abberrant birds/hybrids, plus some material of our birding community in action…

Estonian Ornithological Society


Baer House, Vesti Str. 4, 50002 Tartu.+372 7 422195; jaanus@linnu.tartu.ee
Now some parts in English…

Estonian Fund for Nature


The mission of ELF (Eestimaa Looduse Fond - Estonian Fund for Nature) is to preserve the rich natural diversity in Estonia and the world through active cooperation with individuals, business enterprises, organizations and state institutions…

Läänemaa Bird Club


Recent observations from Western Estonia, as well as some materials and links, local birdlists and maps are available. Homepage is mostly in Estonian, but there are pages for English-speaking reader…



Estonian nature protecting project. Looduskalender offers some live streams: Small Bird Feeder Camera, Lesser Spotted Eagle Camera, Black Stork Camera, White-tailed Eagle Nest Camera, Eagle Winter Webcam, Grey Seal Webcam etc. (not all of them are open; it´s changing during the year).

Tallinna Linnuklubi


Looks like a bird club in Tallin - certainly has a photogallery…

Viron Lintuseura


Viron Lintuseura - Estonian Birding Society r.y. is a Finnish birding association. The foundational meeting was held on February 7, 1997. The society aims to promote bird observating and birding as a hobby in Estonia, increase the cooperation between Finnish and Estonian birders and help developing the protection and knowledge of Estonian birds and bird areas. The society upholds Sõrve Bird Observatory in the southernmost peak of Saaremaa. The observatory is available for everyone in autumn…


Abbreviations Key

Lahemaa National Park


Satellite View

Protection, conservation and interpretation of typical nature and cultural heritage for Northern Estonia, included ecosystems, biodiversity, landscapes, etnoculture and sustainable nature use…

Matsalu Nature Reserve


Satellite View

Meie suurima looduskaitseala külastamiseks soodsam aeg on kahtlemata rändlindude läbilend kevadel (märtsist maini) ning sügisel (september-oktoober). Siis kohtate Te siin linnuparvi, kelle tiivamühin kostab tormituulena - ja kelle ülelennul võib sadada midagi, mida Te ainult esmapilgul vihmaks arvate.

Nature Reserves in Estonia


Protected areas in Estonia cover 485,198 hectares, that is 10.73% of the national territory (water areas not included)…

Nigula Nature Reserve


Satellite View

One of the oldest and best researched bog and forest ecosystem protection areas is known as a bog reference site all across Europe. The Nature Reserve was established in 1957. Since 1979 it is a bird area of international importance.

West Estonian Archipelago Biosphere Reserve


Satellite View

The West Estonian Islands Biosphere Reserve



The convention entered into force in Estonia on 29 July 1994. Estonia currently has 17 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 304,778 hectares.

Forums & Mailing Lists


Mailing List

To subscribe to list: majordomo@ut.ee

subscribe linnuhuvilised Your Name

Mailing List – Discussion Group Discussion of birds in Estonia. Messages in Estonian. Some members use six-letter (3+3) bird code system, in Latin.

Guides & Tour Operators

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

Birding Pal


Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

NaTourEst - Nature & Birdwatching Tours in Estonia

Tour Operator

Estonia, a small country on the shores of the Eastern Baltic Sea, is increasingly popular among birdwatchers, who flock in ever increasing numbers to watch spectacular arctic migration in spring and autumn. There is much more to offer, even in wintertime…

Travelling Naturalist

Tour Operator

Join us in one of Europe's newest birdwatching destinations - Estonia!

Trip Reports

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


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.

2007 [05 May] - Hans Schick


From May 03 – 12, 2007 I spent 10 days in the provinces Pärnumaa, Läänemaa, and Harjumaa at the Estonian west coast. During this time I had the opportunity to watch birds in bogs, forests and wetlands, as well as along the coastline of the Baltic Sea…

2011 [05 May] - Ian Moore & Malcolm Shakespeare


First bird of the trip was Hooded Crow, walking around the runway as we taxied along the runway in Tallinn. As we waited for our Hire car to arrive, we added White Wagtail, Swallow, Swift, Whitethroat and Common Tern. We were presented with our nice shiny hire car an Opel Astra from Easy Cars (177 euros), we headed west out of Tallinn towards the Baltic coast with Poospea our destination. We added White Stork and a male Hen Harrier from the motorway…

2011 [06 June] - Ernesto G. Occhiato


Estonia and Latvia are really great countries for birding: there are superb and unspoiled wild places where Corncrake, Thrush Nightingale, Common Rosefinch, Marsh, River, Grasshopper and Icterine Warblers are amazingly common; places where Red-breasted Flycatcher is one of the most easily heard bird; and there are gems such as Citrine Wagtail, Great Snipe, and Red-necked Grebes all to be found in a relatively small area. White-tailed Eagle is a frequent sight, and Lesser Spotted Eagle almost the same…

2013 [03 March] - Mads Elley & Tina Elley

Report PDF

We knew this was not going to be a trip with a long list. Our targets were Ural Owl, White-backed Woodpecker and Steller’s Eider. Next in priority were Grey-headed and Threetoed Woodpeckers, Pygmy and Tengmalm’s Owls and finally Black and Hazel Grouse and Capercaillie. We only missed Tengmalm’s Owl, Hazel Grouse and Capercaillie. In total we noted 65 species of birds and 5 (6) species of mammals….

2013 [04 April] - Howard Taffs - Latvia & Estonia

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…For me the highlights were good numbers of species I rarely see such as bramblings, woodlarks, waxwings and snow buntings plus the steady trickle of BOPs (11 species in all though I did not confirm golden eagle until I checked my photos more thoroughly). Where the sea was beginning to thaw goldeneye displayed and goosanders were always present. Long tailed ducks stayed farther out but a smew came by at point blank range one morning….

2014 [10 October] - Christopher Hall


...Incredibly one of the Black Grouse perches on a telegraph wire, and just down the road we find the other three perched in the tops of tall birches, just like crows! On the western shore of Lake Peipus (the fourth largest lake in Europe) we count at least five White-tailed Eagles, and at one point I have three in the same scope view! From our vantage point, looking across to the Russian side, we watch a flock of Jays cross the lake from the east, followed by a single Black Woodpecker, which promptly decides to turn back...

2015 [05 May]

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...Didn't take long for Raccoon Dog to appear (an introduced species from Asia), with up to three seen on and off over the next couple of hours, almost Badger like as they scuttle around the forest floor - brief views also of a Red Fox. Despite being a bright day, as soon as the sun began to drop, being in the forest very quickly the light started to go, and by 8.30pm it was fairly dark. Nightjar called briefly, and Cuckoo had been a constant presence since arrival.

2015 [06 June] - Chris Durdin & Ivan Nethercoat

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...Slavonian grebes are thought of as a sensitive species, yet they were making floating nests a few metres off the bank despite fishermen casting among them and group of noisy children in bathing costumes splashing around on a landing stage.

2015 [07 July] - Luca Bergamaschi

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...Birding in Estonia in mid-July probably is not the best option: some passerines have stopped singing and grouses and some woodpeckers are very difficult to find. On the other hand, some other passerines are still singing and by July the migration of waders and ducks (peak of Common Scoter passage) begins to give good observations.

2016 [06 June] - Ivan Nethercoat

PDF Report

… a white-tailed eagle flew low toward us and kept on going toward a small group of greylag geese. It then dropped down onto one of the birds, standing on it for a few moments and then flying off with a young goose.

Places to Stay

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

Õnneoru Holiday Home


A truly private holiday home Õnneoru is situated in West Saaremaa at Kuusnõmme village. Pine forest awaits you with all the comforts of home. On the second floor is a small spa with its Jacuzzi and a sauna. The holiday house is suitable for up to three families, or 8-membered group of people (if necessary there can be 5 additional beds).

Algallika Guesthouse


Algallika guesthouse rooms are renovated in 2008 and 2014. Our rooms have big windows with sea, garden and fields view. Whole house is heated with geothermal energy...

Tuulingu Puhkemaja Holiday Cottage - Haeska village, Matsalu National Park


If you are fond of seaside places with a tender breeze, coastal meadows, sea birds and the sun that sets behind the cape and you wish to have a rest at such an idyllic place - well, you have opened the right page. Come and visit Matsalu National Park, where unique coastal meadows open to the sea have preserved up to now. In Haeska which is on the migration route of tens of thousands of birds you can observe the birds’ activities during their migration, nesting and preparation for migration to the south in autumn. The meadows are taken care of by Highland cattle, sheep and dairy cattle. This place is known among the birdwatchers as European master – right here birdwatchers have seen the greatest number of different species in 24 hours…


Kabli Bird Observatory


Satellite View

Hundreds of birds, which have been marked in Kabli Bird Station, have been found again. Most of the recoveries come from the bird stations around of Baltic Sea. These recoveries give the opportunity to calculate the migration speed and identify migration routs. With the cooperation of other bird stations is possible to follow the bird migration both in the time and space…

Other Links

Estonian Birds


List of Estonian Birds in Estonian, Latin and English



Hirundo, the journal of the Estonian Ornithological Society, is issued twice a year. It publishes ornithological papers, comments and instructions, as well as EOS news. The journal is focused on original studies and discussion about Estonian birds, their numbers, biology and conservation.

White-tailed Eagles Winter Webcam


(Click at Winter White-tailed Eagles, direct stream)

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Arne Ader


Loodusemees Image Library

Photographer - Remo Savisaar


Eastonian birding BLOG mostly in pictures…

Photographer - Sven Zacek


Stunningly good and very unusual nature photography…

Photographer - Tony Galván


Tony Galván`s photographs of birds…

Webcam - White-tailed eagle camera 2011


This Camera follows the happenings in the nest of White-tailed Eagle pair in Estonia. Go to Nature cameras/White-tailed Eagle Camera/direct stream (top left corner of the site)…