Bavaria is Germany’s largest state and includes almost the whole of the German Alps. All central European alpine species can be observed here and the large and varied types of wetland contribute to the abundant bird life in the state.
Divers, Night Heron, Little and Great White Egret, Goosander, Montagu's Harrier, Golden Eagle, Ptarmigan, Capercaillie, Black and Hazel Grouse, Mediterranean Gull, Eagle Owl, White-backed and Three-toed Woodpecker, Crag Martin, Water Pipit, Alpine Accentor, Bluethroat, Ring Ouzel, River Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, Red-breasted and Collared Flycatcher, Wallcreeper, Nutcracker, Alpine Chough, Common Rosefinch, Citril Finch, & Snow Finch.
Almost all good birding areas in Southern Bavaria can be covered individually on a day’s excursion from the state capital Munich. The Starnberger See, Chiemsee and Ammersee are always attractive destinations in winter and in spring and summer a day’s hike in the mountains is worthwhile. Birding sites which can be reached in less than an hour’s drive from Munich are the Ismaniger, Moosburger and Echinger reservoirs and the lakes Ammersee and Starnberger See.
Those wanting to have a more exhaustive insight into Bavaria’s bird life are advised to visit the following birdwatching sites:
* One of the 3 large alpine regions. As alpine species are not easy ‘ticks’ several days are required for each of the regions (Allgaeu, the North Tyrolean Limestone Alps and the Karwendel Mountains and parts of the Salzburg Limestone Alps in the Berchtesgaden region). Some of the areas described are not reachable in winter or winter clothing and mountaineering equipment is required. The best time for the upper regions is from May to July.
* One of the large lakes in the alpine foothills. Seasonal - Chiemsee in summer or Starnberger See in winter.
* The Murnauer Moos which is a good half or full day tour in June when Common Rosefinch and Corncrake are present.
* A large river valley such as the Lower Inn, the Danube near Aholfing or the Donaumoos near Guenzburg. These areas are mainly interesting in the breeding and migration seasons; in winter there is less to see.
Particularly recommended sites (from the Moning & Wagner guide 2005) – see Top Sites below…
Allgaeu Alps near Oberstdorf
This extensive area covering some 900 km², essentially the Allgaeu Alps Massif, provides opportunities for week-long hiking and birdwatching trips. The trip selection on this site gives access to almost all northern alpine and subalpine bird species. A small selection of interesting birds includes Golden Eagle, Black Grouse, Ptarmigan, Three-toed Woodpecker, Nutcracker and Bonelli's Warbler.
Altmuehlsee and Brombachsee
The Starnberger See’s little brother from an ornithological point of view. It offers a similarly interesting selection of passage and wintering species. The extensive dried-up and low bog areas in the south (Ammermoos) and north (Ampermoos), as well as mixed woodland in the west, add to the habitat variety of the area.
Bavaria’s largest lake covering 8,500 hectares. Together with the surrounding moorland and the nearby mountains, the Chiemsee is one of the areas in the state most abundant in birds with some 300 species recorded since 1950. Some 40 % of the shoreline is still in a near-natural state. In winter up to 40,000 birds have been recorded on this RAMSAR site. Best during spring and autumn migration and in winter. Sedge Warbler, Savi's Warbler and Great Reed Warbler breed on the shoreline and Hobby, Honey Buzzard, Stonechat and Common Rosefinch in the surrounding moorland
Danube between Regensburg and Deggendorf
An important rest area for migrants. In spite of the extensive manmade changes to the Rhine bed in this area it is still very good for birding. For observation of the long stretch of dyke a bicycle is recommended but selected points can be covered in a day tour by car. In addition to a great variety of species and rarities on migration, breeding birds include Water Rail, Bluethroat, River Warbler, Penduline Tit, Golden Oriole, Collared Flycatcher and in recent years also Night Heron, Great Egret and Black-winged Stilt.
Echinger and Moosburger reservoirs
These reservoirs on the central stretch of the River Isar between Moosburg and Landshut, with 250 recorded species, offer a broad spectrum of wader, duck, rail and other water bird species in the course of a few hours during spring (April-June) and autumn (August-November) migration. Large numbers of ducks in winter.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen and surroundings
This area, covering a vast 1,000 km², comprises the massif of the Ammer, Ester and Wetterstein mountains as well as the Karwendel. Birding opportunities are countless and during a two week tour the same place need not be visited twice. Good access to the region is assured by a network of lifts, cable cars and trails. All northern alpine species can be observed. Best birds include White-backed and Three-toed Woodpecker, Citril Finch and grouse species. The woodpeckers and grouse need working for. Don’t forget that the winter lingers much longer in the mountains as in the lowlands
Ismaninger Reservoir is close to the Munich conurbation and is primarily a good birding area for water birds. It is worthwhile for a couple of comfortable hours birding in winter.
The lake lies some 70km south of Munich near the Alps. The south end of the lake is surrounded by mountains whereas the northerly part lies in the foothills and is surrounded by moorland. Breeding birds include Black Kite, Marsh and Montagu’s Harrier, Common Snipe, Short-eared Owl. Grey-headed Woodpecker, Bluethroat, Whinchat, Red-backed and Great Grey Shrike
The Mohrhofweiher area is part of an extensive fishpond complex. When they are drained in autumn they are good feeding grounds for migrants. Over 250 species have been recorded, speciality breeding birds being Black-necked, Grebe, Little Bittern and Bluethroat.
This area is well known as the best site for Corncrake and Common Rosefinch. Covering some 4,200 hectares it is one of the largest intact bog areas in Central Europe and an important area for ground breeders in Bavaria. The area, with its characteristic meadows and the magnificent Alps as backdrop, is best explored for a whole or half a day on foot or bicycle on the well-maintained tracks. Best from mid-May to mid-June for the interesting breeding birds of the region.
National Park Berchtesgaden and its foothills
Although a large area covering some 240 km² only some 100 species breed in the region and just 150 species in total have been recorded. Good physical condition is required to see most of the breeding alpine species which make up the bird life. Heavy snowfall is not unusual in April and large tracts of the region are still snow-covered in May. A stay of several days is recommended to see a large number of alpine species. Interesting birds include Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Honey Buzzard, Peregrine, Ptarmigan, Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Hazel Grouse, Tengmalm's Owl, Pygmy Owl, Black, Green, Grey-headed, White-backed- und Three-toed Woodpecker, Crag Martin, Water Pipit, Alpine Accentor, Ring Ouzel, Bonelli's Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Dipper, Wallcreeper (rare), Nutcracker, Raven, Alpine Chough, Snow Finch
A RAMSAR site of international importance with winter water bird populations of up to 20,000 birds. The south shore of the lake is probably the best place in Germany (apart from the coast) to see divers and sea ducks between October and April. A very full winter day’s birding.
The Lower Inn
The Europa reserve is one of the best birding areas in Bavaria and a RAMSAR site with over 300 species recorded. The extensive stretches of water, mudflats and reed beds and riverine woodland provide a great variety of species. Good for woodpeckers in March and April and song birds in May and June. A good full day’s birding but more time is required to explore the various river stretches in detail.
Christoph Moning & Christian Wagner
Vögel beobachten in Sueddeutschland (Birdwatching in Southern Germany)
Edited and translated by David Conlin
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 362
(As at March 2019)
State Bird - Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes
Birdwatching in Southern Germany
(The best birdwatching areas between the River Mosel and Mt. Watzmann) | by Christoph Moning & Christian Wagner | Kosmos Verlag | 2012 | Edition 3 | Paperback | 365 pages, colour photos, 150+ colour maps | (In German) |
ISBN: 9783440125380Buy this book from NHBS.com
Kempten [Bavaria] - LBV- Kreisgruppe Kempten-Oberallgäu
A local group of the Bavarian Bird protection Society.
Landesbund fuer Vogelschutz in Bayern e.V. (LBV)
Society for species and habitat protection in the province of Bavaria. Takes the place of NABU in the province (The Bavarians always do their own thing). Their emblem is the Kingfisher instead of the White Stork…
BR The Rhön
(English- French – German) Not particularly comprehensive – mainly for general tourism but has useful information. There is also a birdwatching page (in German) at http://www.biosphaerenreservat-rhoen.de/frame_vogel.html
The first man-made dam in the Middle Franconian lake district. Flooded in 1985. The Middle Franconian lake district is a major project by the province of Bavaria; primarily to provide water resources but which, through the provision of recreational facilities, has developed into an important tourist resource.
The Brombachmoor is a nature reserve in the Franconian Lake District in the Middle Franconian county of Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen. The roughly 700-metre-long trough-shaped valley is covered in alder carr woods and riparian woodland as well as small pools known as Tümpeln. Between the sedge hummocks there are bulrushes, peat mosses, dogbanes, sedges und rushes.
NR Deusmauer Moor
The Deusmauer Moor is a nature reserve near Deusmauer, in the municipality of Velburg in the Upper Palatine county of Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz. The reserve covers an area of 73 hectares and is an extensive fen complex on the Schwarze Laber river. It is notable due to the presence of rare plants that are ice age relics.
Hartelholz is a 115-hectare (280-acre) forest in the north of Munich, Germany.
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.
2018 [06 June] - Andy & Ingrid Patmore - Bavarian Alps
We had perfect weather everyday which made it possible to enjoy the stunning and varied scenery to the full. The locals were suggesting that Spring was at least two weeks in advance and this was confirmed by plants found that we have not previously recorded flowering in June. Highlights included pristine Marsh, Red and Dark Red Helleborines amongst other orchids, and Alpine species in profusion. Golden Eagle, Alpine Accentor, Marmots and Chamois, numerous butterflies including Clouded Apollo and Swallowtail were observed on our forays into the Berchtesgaden Alpine National Park.
Bird Reports from Bavaria and much more…
Christoph Moning’s & Christian Wagner’s very detailed website (in German) with recommended birdwatching areas and species lists for Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Hesse and the Wadden Sea…
Translation of Bird Names
Photographers & Artists
Bird Artist - Paschalis Dougalis
…animal-bird artist living in Munich, Germany…
Digital Photography in Bavaria
An offshoot of the popular and informative Bavarian Birds site, Stefan Tewinkel has published a new page to illustrate the magnification possible with a digital camera in combination with binoculars or scope - the increasingly popular art of digiscoping…