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Eastern Siberia

Siberian Jay Perisoreus infaustus ©Jens Eriksen

By Eastern Siberia we mean the Republics of Yakutia, [Sakha] Tuva and Khakassia, the 'Kray' of Krasnoyarsk and the 'Oblast' of Irkutsk.

In contrast to Western Siberia, this region consists mostly of tablelands and mountains. It has continental climate with very cold winters. Eastern Siberia has a lot of big rivers, such as Yenisei, Lena, Yana, Indigirka and others. The largest part of the region is covered in permafrost, which underlies the land. This large territory has a great variety of landscapes.

Tundra occupies much of the lands along Northern Seas. It has low vegetation, which mostly consists of mosses, lichens, sedges and gramineous plants. The summer is very short here, and because of this the avifauna is very specialized with a lot of Geese, waders and Gulls breeding here, but only a few passerine bird species, such as Snow Bunting and Lapland Bunting, inhabit the tundra. One of the symbolical tundra birds is the beautiful Snowy Owl.

To the south begins boundless taiga. The most common tree species are larch and in some places cedar-pine. Dark coniferous forests are less widespread in this region. The typical birds of the taiga forests are Siberian Jay, Golden Mountain Thrush, Rose Finch, Red-flanked Bluetail and Hawk Owl. Large parts of the taiga zone are occupied by fire forests, places that demonstrate different stages of recovery. Such forest attract some special birds, for example, Yellow-Browed Warbler & Black-throated Thrush.

One of the richest habitats are the well-developed floodplains of big rivers. Willow and alder forests together with meadows and marshes give rise to a large variety of avifauna with such specialties as Siberian Thrush, Siberian Blue Robin, Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler and many others.

In the south is a steppe zone, which consists of different grasslands and lakes. A lot of non-forest birds breed here and water-loving species make stops here during migration.

Top Sites

Khakassky State Natural Reserve


State Natural Reserve “Khakassky! Khakassia is one of those areas where you can see practically all kinds of landscape within the limited territory. To the North there are spurs of Kuznetski Alatau with heights up to 1500 m. Mountain tops eroded by the Khakassian winds are covered by larch and birch forests.. If you drive off about 80-100 km from the capital of Khakassia Abakan you will find yourself in the kingdom of steppes. On the territory as little as 10000 sq. km there are more than 200 lakes of different salinity degree. In the South Khakassia is framed by Sayan Mountains. It’s the land of snowy mountain peaks, impassable taiga and cold clear rivers. The Reserve consists of 9 separate areas which stretched from the North to the South of the Republic. Thereby you can observe great variety of natural complexes, landscapes and incredible diversity of plant and animal life in our region. “Podzaploty” and “Hol-Bogaz” areas belong to “Kuznetski Alatau” mountain range The areas “Lake Shira”, “Lake Bele”, “Lake Itkul” represent steppe landscape. The areas “Little Abakan” and “Lykov’s Zaimka” are part of Sayan mountain realm. However two areas of the Reserve “Khakassky” are very special and are situated one hour drive from Abakan. These are the areas called “Oglahty” and “Kamyziak steppe / lake Ulug-Kol”. The area “Oglahty” is unique in respect that there is no natural source of water on its territory. The only source of water for local floral life is natural precipitation. Nevertheless 1/3 of the area is covered with birch forests and very high grass. In these forests and nearby ravines vegetation grow as high as 1m 20 cm. tall. Total number of plants is more than 400 species concentrated in this area. Complexity of the relief appeared due to the ancient mountain range Oglahty gives us opportunity to observe variety of biocoenosis and plant associations. On the small area you will see a grassland steppe, a stony steppe, a dry meadow and brushwood. Steep slopes in the South and in the East are covered with rock and rock slide vegetation Steppes of Khakassia are not similar to those of European part of Russia. They are also different from Kazakhstan steppe. Khakassian steppes being part of Altay-Sayan mountain country belong to mountainous insular steppes of Siberia. Animal world of the plot “Oglahty” is typically steppe and represents complex of the open area and rock species. There are 5 kinds of reptiles, 148 species of birds, 27 kinds of mammal species inhabit the territory of the plot. “Kamyziak steppe/ lake Ulug-Kol” is even more interesting for research. It is located in the Uibat steppe which is the oldest heart of Khakassia. There are a lot of old historical monuments on the territory of the plot and bordering areas. Most monuments are more than 4000 years old. The lake is located in the lowland lakeside basin and its depth doesn’t exceed 1 m. The lake water is bitter-salty and during certain arid years the lake may dry up completely. The northern and the western shores where three little streamlets disgorge into the lake covers swamps and saline fields. The rest of the shore line is mud littoral shelf. Intense showers during dry summers cause temporary springs of water. Active salt solution causes carst development. Because of hard habitat factors on this plot only 138 species of plants are here. However none of the factors mentioned above reflects the unique nature of the area.. The lake Ulug-Kol falls to the Key Ornithological Areas and it is the water-marshy areas. This is a place of rest for more than 120 species of birds during spring and autumn migrations. Migratory birds have been landing on Ulug-Kol and staying in the area for more than thousand of years already. So that they could have some rest and get stronger for the approaching voyage. Some of them stay here for the summer and bring up their young . The lake is the biggest Avocet habitat in the Middle Siberia. The numbers of avocets has been registered as many as 80-100 couples which is 50% of Avocet population in Middle Siberia. The ruddy shelduck (50-80 pairs), shelduck (20-30), demoiselle crane (5-10 pairs), pochard, pintail, gadwall, curlew and whimbrel and other species also inhabit the lake.

Lena River Delta

Lena River Delta The vegetation of this territory is virtually unique. It includes not only floodplainspecies, but also sea-bank meadows, marshes and different kinds of tundra complexes, such as willow tundra, lichen tundra, grass tundra and many others. Sheltered places are lined with larch elfin woods, and on its northern boundary are larch. The avifauna of the site includes 109 species, among them there are 60 breeding species. The variety of vegetation and large number of different pools attract a lot of waterfowl and waders. You can find here Red-throated & Black-throated Divers, Bewick’s Swan, White-fronted Goose, Bean Goose and large breeding colonies of Brent Goose. The most common Ducks are Pintail, Long-tailed Duck, King Eider and Baikal Teal. A lot of waders can be recorded here, for example, Red-Necked Phalarope, Grey Phalarope, Grey Plover, American Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Common Dotterel, Turnstone, Spotted Redshank, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-bellied Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper. Very interesting Gulls, such as three species of Skua: Arctic, Long-tailed & Pomarine; Glaucous Gull, Ross’s Gull and Sabine’s gull can be found here. You can also see Snowy Owls. The only common passerines here are Red-throated Pipit, Snow Bunting and Lapland Bunting.

Putoransky Reserve


Satellite View

The altitudinal vegetation levels show well on the slopes of the Putorany Mountains. There are 4 main levels: forest, crooked forest, tundra and rock. Mountain lakes and rivers complete the landscape. The most common tree species is larch. Crooked forests consist of willow bushes, alder-bushes and Arctic birch. Tundra is a kingdom of lichens and grass.

Close to 160 bird species have been recorded in the reserve. Avifauna includes forest, tundra and water species. In the alpine level it’s possible to see Tundra Grouse, Common Dotterel, Horned Lark, Snow Bunting and Wheatear. Such tundra specialities as Golden Plover, American Golden Plover, Red-throated Pipit, Bluethroat and Lapland Bunting also breed here. Willow Grouse, Dusky Thrush, Little Bunting and Polar Bunting inhabit mountain light forests. The most typical birds of coniferous forests are Oriental Cuckoo, Hawk Owl, Mountain Accentor, Siberian Tit, Siberian Jay, Siberian Capercaille and Rose Finch. Near water landscapes the avifauna has about 50 breeding species. Among them you can find White-billed Northern Diver, Black-throated Diver, Red-throated Diver, Siberian Gray-rumped Sandpiper, Shoveler, Smew, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander and Lesser White-fronted Goose.

Stolby Reserve


Satellite View

The avifauna of the south taiga is well represented in this territory. There are two main altitude zones in these mountains. Light coniferous forests consist of larch and pine, covering the land between 200m and 400m above sea level. In the higher zones they are replaced by dark forests with fir, spruce or cedar-pine in prevalence. The trees usually have a complete covering of green mosses. On the south mountainsides there are some small isolated steppes. More than 200 species of birds have been recorded in the reserve. Siberian Flycatcher Mugimaki Flycatcher, Brown Flycatcher, Pallas’s Warbler, Eye-browed Thrush, Golden Mountain Thrush, Siberian Blue-Robin, Red-flanked Blue-Tail, Eagle Owl, Capercaille, Great Gray Owl and other taiga species inhabit the dark forests. Also you can find here such predatory birds as Peregrine & Little Sparrowhawk. Typical light forest birds are Golden Oriole, Thick-billed Warbler, Red-Breasted Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Bunting, Pine Bunting, Oriental Turtle-dove and Nightjar.

Tsentralno-Sibirsky Reserve


This site is situated on the Yenisey River, in the middle taiga faunal sub-zone. It represents typical taiga habitats, such as cedar-pine and larch forests, fire forests and bogs. You can find here a lot of taiga avifauna species. Including Hawk Owl, Eagle Owl, Capercaille, Siberian Jay and Nutcracker. If you are interested in small birds, you can enjoy Brambling, Yellow-browed Bunting, Siberian Flycatcher & Indian Tree Pipit. Moreover, the floodplain of the Yenisey River gives refuge to a lot of birds, including such interesting ones as Pin-tailed Snipe, Siberian Thrush, Ruby-throat, Rufous-tailed Robin, Yellow-breasted Bunting and some Warblers. On the sand banks in August it’s possible to see at water-loving birds, such as Little Gull, Grey Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Ruff, Red-necked Phalarope, different Ducks & Geese.

Ulukh-Kol Lake

This lake is very shallow (predominated about 1 metre deep) as it has no outlets the water is saline. It is surrounded by steppe. The most numerous breeding population of Pied Avocet in Siberia has been recorded here. During spring and autumn migrations mixed flocks of Bewick’s Swan & Whooper Swan make long rest stops on the lake. Saker Falcon, Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle and Demoiselle Crane usually can be found near the lake.


Olga Batova


Ecological Travel Center - Moscow



Useful Reading

A Field Guide to Birds of Russia and Adjacent Territories

V. Flint, R. Boehme, Y. Kostin, A. Kuznetsov Paperback - 440 pages (December 1983) Princeton University Press

ISBN: 0691024308

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to Watch Birds in Europe & Russia

Nigel Wheatly Paperback - 416 pages (28 April, 2000) Christopher Helm

ISBN: 0713648708

Buy this book from NHBS.com


Abbreviations Key

Azas Reserve


Satellite View

Azas Reserve is located in the northern part of the Republic of Tuva. It was created in 1985 on the basis of an existing beaver zakaznik. The area of 300,400 hectares is located in the Todzha depression, in the basin of righthand tributaries of the river Bolschoy Yenisey (Biy-Khem) and on the lefthand bank of the river Sorug. About 200 species of birds including rare and endangered species such as Black Stork, Swan Goose, Osprey, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, & Peregrine. Zelenaya 14, Toora-Khem, Republic Tuva, Russia, 668530 Phone: +7 39450 21299 milan@tuva.ru

Bolshoy Arktichesky Reserve


Bolshoy Arktichesky Reserve is located on the northern outskirts of Krasnoyarsky kray in the territory Taimyrsky Autonomous Okrug. It was created in 1993. The area consists of 4,169,200 hectares and is located on the northern coast of the Taimyr Peninsula and its adjacent islands. The reserve comprises seven departments.
Box 126, Shorsa 1, Dudinka, Taimyrsky AO, Russia, 663210

Khakassky Reserve


Satellite View

The reserve was founded in November 1999 by combining two zapovedniks that already existed — Maliy Abakan and Chasy. Maliy Abakan territory is situated to the south of the Republic of Khakassia; it was founded in 1993. Its area is 97,800 hectares. It is located on the northern side of the Western Sayan Mountains in the basins of the rivers Maly Abakan and Bolshoy Abakan. The forest-covered area totals 73,200 hectares; meadows occupy 369 hectares; and wetlands 784 hectares. Among the animal species are 149 bird species, including 142 nesting species. Rare and endangered bird species include Black Stork, Golden Eagle, Saker and Solitary Snipe. Chasy territory is situated in the Republic of Khakassia; founded in 1991. Its area is 24,700 hectares. It consists of several parts, located in the basin of the river Abakan, a tributary of the Yenisey. Of bird species Daurian Partridge and Quail are numerous; Black Grouse is more rare. Of rare birds there nest Imperial Eagle, Saker and Peregrine.
Phone/fax: +7 39022 64223 reserve@khakasnet.ru

Putoransky Reserve


Satellite View

Putoransky Reserve is located on territory Taimyrsky and Evenkiysky autonomous okrugs. Is created in 1988. The area consists of 1,887,300 hectares. It is located in central and south-western parts Putoran plateau. Bird species include: Gyrfalcon, and White-tailed Eagle.
Komsomolskaya 1, Norilsk, Krasnoyarsky kray, Russia, 663302

Sayano-Shushenskiy Reserve


Sayano-Shushenskiy Reserve is located in south-eastern part of Krasnoyarsky kray. It was created in 1976. The Area 390,400 hectares. Is located on the left bank of the Yenisey river, in the central part Western Sayan. There are 250 species of birds, including Nutcracker, Capercaillie, Hazel Grouse, Black Grouse, Ptarmigan, Daurian Partridge and Kestrel. Rare and endangered species include: Altai Snowcock, Golden Eagle, Saker, & Peregrine.
Zapovednaya 7, Schuschenskoe, Krasnoyarsky kray, Russia, 662720 Phone/fax: +7 39139 32300 sayan@public.krasnet.ru

Stolby Reserve


Satellite View

Russian language only. – It is located in Krasnoyarsky kray, near Krasnoyarsk city. It was created in 1925. The area 47,200 hectares is located on a spur of East Sayan. 150 bird species. Usual predators, owl, Hazel Grouse, Capercaillie etc. Rare birds include Golden Eagle, Peregrine, and Osprey.
Karernaya 26A, Krasnoyarsk, Russia, 660006 stolby@ktk.ru

Taimyrsky Reserve


Satellite View

State Reserve Taimyrsky was created on 23 February 1979. In 1995 it was given the status of a Biosphere Reserve. This is one of the largest Russian reserves, located in the northern part of Krasnoyarsky kray, on the Taimyr Peninsula. The Reserve consists of Main territory, three Filials and another protected area Bikada. The area 1,781,900 hectares. The following birds have their nesting grounds in the Reserve: King Eider, Black-throated Diver, White-billed Diver, and Bean Goose. Among the rare and endangered birds are Bewick`s Swan, Red-breasted Goose, Gyrfalcon, Peregrine, and White-tailed Eagle.
Sovetskaya 18, Khatanga, Taimyrsky AO, Russia, 663260 Phone: +7 39176 21097, +7 39176 21239 taimyr@orc.ru

Taimyrsky Reserve


State Reserve Taimyrsky was created on 23 February 1979. In 1995 it was given the status of a Biosphere Reserve. This is one of the largest Russian reserves, located in the northern part of Krasnoyarsky kray, on the Taimyr Peninsula. The Reserve consists of Main territory, three Filials and protected area Bikada. The Reserve office is located in Khatanga village, which is one of the district centers in Taimyrsky (Dolgano-Nenetsky) autonomous okrug…

Tsentralno-Sibirsky Reserve


Tsentralno-Sibirsky Reserve is located in the centre of Krasnoyarsky kray. It was created in 1985. The area of 972,000 hectares is situated in the middle reaches of the Yenisey, north of the mouth of the river Podkamennaya Tunguska, in the eastern part of the Western-Siberian alley and on the western slope of Mid-Siberian Plateau. The reserve has biosphere status. Eloguysky federal ecological-ethnographic nature zakaznik is under the control of the reserve. The zakaznik was founded in 1987 on an area of 747,600 hectares. There are about 250 species of birds. In the water-meadows of the Yenisey River nest various ducks, and occasionally Whooper Swan and Bean Goose. Rare and endangered species include White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Osprey, Peregrine, and Black Stork.
Gribnaya 1, Bor village, Turuchansky district, Krasnoyarsky kray, Russia, 663196

Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Reserve


Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Reserve is located on the southern edges of the Republic Tuva within the Erzinsky, Tes-Khemsky and Mongun-Taiginsky districts. The reserve was founded in 1993. Its area is 323,200 hectares. It is located to the south of Tuva on the border with Mongolia. It consists of five parts. From a zoogeographical point of view Ubsunurskaya hollow is characterized by a unique combination of desert (Houbara); steppe (Mongolian Lark); taiga (Three-toed Woodpecker, Nutcracker, Black-billed Capercaillie) faunal types. The reserve has biosphere status.
Lesnaya 6, Erzin village, Erzinsky district, Republic Tuva, Russia, 668380 Phone: +7 39422 33524; +7 39422 12248; Fax: +7 39422 33501 ubsunur@tuva.ru

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Trip Reports


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Krasnoyarsk Regional Museum


Russian language only. One of the largest in Russia. Established in 1889 under the initiative of local intelligensia. Exhibits including birds.
Dubrovinskogo 84, Krasnoyarsk, Russia, 660049 Phone: +7 3912 272757; +7 3912 226513

N.M. Martyanov [Minusinsk Regional] Museum

N.M. Martyanov [Minusinsk Regional] Museum was created in 1877 under the initiative of local man N.M. Martyanov. Exhibits including birds.
Lenina 60, Minusinsk, Krasnoyarsky kray, Russia, 662800 Phone: +7 39132 22297; +7 39132 20054

Tuvan National Museum


The Tuvan National Museum of Regional Studies was named after Aldan-Maadyr and founded in 1929; it is a unique treasury of monuments of the Tuvan people`s history and culture.
Lenin Street, Kyzyl, Republic of Tuva, Russia, 667000 Phone: +7 39422 30096; +7 39422 30656; Fax: +7 39422 36722

Zoomuseum of Krasnoyarsk State University


The Zoomuseum of Krasnoyarsk State University contains bird exposition and scientific collections (about 2500 specimens).
Svobodny 79, Faculty of Biology, Krasnoyarsk State University, Krasnoyarsk, Russia, 660062 Phone: +7 3912 444226; +7 3912 446621

Other Links

Birds of Central Siberia


Generally, about 400 species of birds stay here in different times. Some of them already are not to be found any more or are extremely rare. Others appeared here as distant visitors. We have compiled here the most complete list of bird species of this territory. It is made on the base of the literature analysis. Moreover you can find here other information, concerned birds, which can be interesting and useful.


The incorporated enterprise Krasnoyarskturist was created after the transformation of the Krasnoyarsk Territory Tourism Council. The Council began its work in 1961. The incorporated enterprise Krasnoyarskturist is the only tourist firm in the Krasnoyarsk Territory with its own hotels, tourist camps, restaurants, cafes, bars, mountain skiing road with a cable way (the longest in Russia) and motor transport enterprise. Krasnoyarskturist has 14 branches in 9 towns of the Krasnoyarsk Territory and in Khakassia. They can offer holidays on the lakes of Shira and the Maly Kyzykul, rafting on the rivers of Mana and Sisim, horse-riding and mountain skiing.
Krasnoyarskiy rabochiy 199, Krasnoyarsk, Russia, 660064 Phone: +7 3912 366666, +7 3912 362328, +7 3912 651747 Fax: +7 3912 363431 E-mail: krsktour@tlcom.krs.ru