Kyrgyz Republic

Shrika Accipiter badius ©Machiel Valkenburg Website
Birding Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is located in the northeastern part of Central Asia and represents one of the most interesting mountain areas of our planet. The Central Tien-Shan Mountains are located on the northern flanks of the Himalaya mountain range. It covers 925km from East to West and 453km from North to South. The total area of the Kirghiz Republic is 198,500sq km. The mountains reach over 7000 meters (Pobeda 7439m) at the northeastern edge of the country and in the southern regions (Lenin 7134m) on the border with Tajikistan. Climate changes are extreme, during winter the whole region is covered with ice and snow. Temperature can drop to -30 or -40 degrees Celsius in the capital Bishkek. The summer is warm but not extreme, temperatures can rise above 30 but still it remains pleasant. The ideal birding weather is in the spring and summer. Lake Issyk-Kul remains unfrozen all year round because of its alkaline water. It is over 700 meters deep in places. Located at an altitude of 1600 meters it is the second largest mountain lake after Titicaca in Peru.

Considering the size and location of Kyrgyzstan the number of species that can be encountered is quite good, at least 376 species (Lesser Sand Plover, Ibisbill, Demoiselle Crane being notable examples). The avifauna is influenced by the Himalayas as well as by the birds breeding on the Siberian taiga and Kazakh steppes that migrate through the mountain slopes. The avifauna is mainly familiar with the European species but some interesting subspecies occur of course, (such as Sturnus vulgaris porphyrnotus a Common Starling race that looks like a Spotless Starling). Issyk-Kul lake is good for many breeding birds like Common Redshank, Kentish Plover, Common Snipe, Little Bittern, Ferruginous Duck and Demoiselle Crane that breeds in the foothills near the lake. In the reed beds Paddyfield Warblers sing together with Cetti’s Warbler. Wintering birds can be expected near the lake, and you can expect some real good surprises. Small numbers of Ibisbill and Solitary Snipe winter near the lake. Also some Pallas’s Gulls and White-tailed Eagles can be expected.

The mountains of Kyrgyzstan show a diversity in typical Himalayan mountainous species and western paleartic species. Expect to see Ibisbill, White-winged Crossbill, Himalayan Rubythroat, Black-throated and Himalayan Accentors, Guldenstadt’s and Eversmann’s Redstart, Upland Buzzard and many species of Rose-Finches and the big and strong Himalayan Griffon Vulture to mention just a few special species. Also European species like Rock and Pine Bunting, Lammergeier, Black Vulture and Chough can be spotted.Kyrgyzstan is ornithology speaking undiscovered and new discoveries are still being made. Little by little the country is being discovered by birders from Europe but still it remains rather unknown to most.

  • Machiel Valkenburg


Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 376

    (As at December 2018)
  • Birds of Kyrgyzstan

    Russian text with scientific names in Latin script
  • iGoTerra Checklist

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

  • Birds of Central Asia

    | (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan) | by Raffael Ayé, Manuel Schweizer & Tobias Roth | Helm Field Guides | 2012 | Paperback | 336 pages, 141 plates with colour illustrations; 14 colour photos, 5 b/w illustrations, 3 colour maps, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780713670387 Buy this book from
  • Kyrgyzstan Birdwatching Community

    Part BLOG, part Forum, part listing site. Includes a 'Big Year' for bird photographers, reports and more.

Abbreviations Key

  • BR NR Sary-Chelek

    InformationSatellite View
    The Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve is located in Jalal-Abad Region in western Kyrgyzstan. In the central part of the Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve there are 6 small lakes: Kylaa-Kel, Aram-Kel, Cheychek-Kol, Bakaly-Kel, and Chacha-Kel. There is also comparatively large Lake Sary-Chelek.
  • List of protected areas of Kyrgyzstan

    InformationSatellite View
    List with links
  • NP Ala Archa

    InformationSatellite View
    The Ala Archa National Park is an alpine national park in the Tian Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan, located approximately 40 km south of the capital city of Bishkek. A small reservoir on the Kargay-Bulak river was built to study the Amu Darya trout. Other wildlife includes the very rare snow leopard on the alpine meadows and snowfields above 2,500m elevation, wild goats, roe deer and marmots. The snow leopard has been photographed by the park's camera for the first time in May 2017.
  • NR Besh-Aral

    InformationSatellite View
    Besh-Aral State Nature Reserve is in Jalal-Abad Province, western Kyrgyzstan. It currently covers 112,018 hectares. It was created to preserve the unique natural complex and forests of the Chatkal valley, as well as to protect the habitat of the Menzbier's Marmot and to protect the natural habitat of vegetation of Greig and Cauffman tulips.
  • NR Sarychat-Ertash

    InformationSatellite View
    The Sarychat-Ertash State Nature Reserve is located in Issyk-Kul Region of Kyrgyzstan. he reserve currently occupies 134,140 hectares including 72,080 hectares of core area. The reserve was founded mainly to protect the endangered snow leopard and the argali, a large wild sheep of Central Asia. Other large mammals are Siberian ibex, wild boar, Eurasian lynx, Eurasian wolf and Eurasian brown bear. Smaller and medium-sized mammals, include red fox, pallas cat, stone marten, badger, Tolai hare and gray marmot. The reserve is strict and tourists are excluded.
  • NR Surmatash

    InformationSatellite View
    The Surmatash Nature Reserve is located in Kadamjay District of Batken Province of Kyrgyzstan. The reserve occupies 66,194 hectares.
  • NR WII Karatal-Japyryk

    InformationSatellite View
    The Karatal-Japyryk State Nature Reserve is located in Naryn Region of Kyrgyzstan. It was established to conserve the unique nature of Central Tien-Shan, and maintain regional environmental balance. The reserve currently occupies 21,016 hectares (51,930 acres) and consists of 3 areas Song-Kul, Karatal-Achatash, and Chatyr-Kul. The Chatyr-Kul area of the nature reserve is a Ramsar site.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Rubythroat Birding Tours

    Tour Operator
    Rubythroat Birding Tours offers all-inclusive, high quality bird watching and nature holidays in Central Asia. We organize fixed departure tours as well as private, customized tours for small groups. We can organise all tours of our travel programme for small groups, birdtour companies and even private tours are possible. All tours are lead by local experts and/or European top-ornithologists. Come and join us for the Switzerland ofCentral Asia - a plethora of birds and butterflies awaits you!
Trip Reports
  • 2012 [06 June] - Stig Holmstedt - Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

    PDF Report
    …Staying in the reserve village Karazhar in small cabins for three nights. Steppe, lakes. Birds: Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Dalmatian Pelican, Flamingo, Black Kite, Pallid Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Red-footed Falcon, Merlin ssp pallidus, Baillon ́s Crake (heard), Demoiselle Crane, Marsh Sandpiper, Great Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Heuglin ́s Gull, Caspian Tern, White-winged Tern, White-winged Lark, Black Lark, Bluethroat, Savi ́s, Moustached, Paddyfield and Booted Warbler, Isabelline Shrike, Rose-coloured Starling…
  • 2013 [07 July] - Andy Reeve

    PDF Report
    …We stayed in Bishkek for three days waiting to recover lost luggage (don’t fly Pegasus). Interesting birds seen in the city were Eurasian Hobby (1 or 2 daily), Red-rumped Swallow (several daily), Alpine Swift (up to 20 daily), Indian Oriole (1, more seen driving through city outskirts on later dates), and Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1)…
  • 2016 [08 August] - Sander Bruylants

    PDF Report
    From end of June until 1 of August I travelled with my girlfriend to Kyrgyzstan. Our goal was to explore the country. So birdwatching was not the main target, although we would spent most time in natural settings.
  • 2019 [08 August] - Oscar Campbell

    PDF Report
    This report outlines a short but reasonably wide-ranging visit to Kyrgyzstan, a spectacular and bird-rich country but one that is somewhat under-represented in terms of birding trip reports.

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