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Birding Lithuania

Lithuania is rich with diverse landscapes, unique works of nature and a variety of habitats – a lot of marshes, meadows, old and wet forests, lakes and fishponds all of which are suitable for birdwatching. Lithuania’s amber coast – Curonian Spit with rolling sand dunes – make an indelible impression on many visitors. Also there are a lot of marshes and wet forest with old trees, suitable for rare species of woodpeckers.

Until recently, Lithuania was unknown territory to most Europeans. Before the 1990s, most ornithologists and conservationists certainly knew very little about it. They have only just begun to realize that Lithuania is wonderfully rich in bird fauna, including internationally significant populations of many species. Extensive areas of important wildlife habitats of outstanding importance in a European context are scattered throughout the country.

About 30% of Lithuania is forested, with over half of the forests containing middle-aged to old, mature timber. There are large tracts of wet forest, one of Europe’s scarcest habitats. With pine, birch and spruce being the dominant species, these mixed and coniferous forests hold a wonderful variety of birds. Well over 500 pairs of Black Storks nest in them and similar numbers of Lesser-Spotted Eagles. Black Grouse, Hazel hens, Black and Three-toed Woodpeckers are common in the appropriate habitat. The White-backed Woodpecker, which is declining over much of its European range, is still quite numerous. Northern forests are famous for their owls and those in Lithuania are no exception. Ural, Tengmalm’s and Pygmy Owls all breed.

A big part of Lithuania is farmed, but generally not in the intensive, highly mechanized way that is familiar to most of Western Europe. This means, for example that a third of the agricultural landscape consists of meadows and pastures; prime habitat for several thousand pairs of Corncrakes. White Storks are also a familiar sight in the countryside. They survive in areas of traditional farming, especially where these are close to wetlands. A recent estimate puts their population at 12,000 nesting pairs (some even breed in small colonies).

Two very rare European birds breed in the open sedge fens, these are the Aquatic Warbler (250-300 pairs) and the Great Snipe (200-300 pairs). Open fens and bogs are also home to the spectacular Crane, whose wild trumpeting calls are a prominent feature of this landscape. Lithuania has several hundred breeding pairs, and in autumn migrating flocks up to 3,000 cranes are regularly observed in some places. Plenty of old and wet forests create suitable conditions for rare species of woodpeckers (Three-toed, White-backed, Middle Spotted, Grey-headed and others, 9 species altogether). Birds such as Bitterns (800-1,000 pairs); Marsh Harries (2,500-3,500 pairs); and Black Terns (2,000-4,000) are abundant in more open marshland. Ospreys fish many lakes (30-40). White-tailed Eagle is increasing at 40-50 breeding pairs and up to 12 seen at one moment in winter.

Thirteen globally threatened bird species are found in Lithuania, five of them breed – Ferruginous Duck, White-tailed Eagle, Corncrake, Great Snipe and Aquatic Warbler. Regular flocks of Steller’s Eider over winter in the Baltic Sea.

The White Stork truly deserves its place as Lithuanian’s national bird. Whilst it has been declining rapidly in Western Europe during this century, the 5th European White Stork survey revealed that approximately 13,000 pairs bred in Lithuania. This is the highest known density of the species in the world.

The best periods for observations are:Early spring (March, April) which is good for Steller’s Eider, Long-tailed Duck and other seabirds, as well as for owls, woodpeckers and grouse.The Breeding season (May, June) which has the highest number (150-200) of species – at the end of May all the songbirds arrive.In autumn (September, October) and spring (March, April) migration brings huge concentrations of geese, swans, ducks, cranes and other waterfowl, waders and passerines. Especially strong autumn migration is on the seacoast of Lithuania which forms a bottle-neck.

Top Sites
  • Baltoji Voke

    Satellite View
    Baltoji Voke is the special birdwatching area very close to the capital of Lithuania - Vilnius. It is just 30km to the south, or 30 minutes by car from Vilnius airport. This place contains big complexes of good habitats concentrated in one place. Best of all are Baltoji Voke fishponds, there ecological farming goes together with some bird protection and birdwatching activities (in 2002 Lithuanian ornithological Society started here a special project for the development of birdwatching).
  • Curonian Spit

    Satellite View
    The Lithuanian seacoast area and Curonian spit - is a bottle-neck where the migration of wildfowl along the Baltic is impressive with huge flocks of migrant geese, swans, ducks and passerines.
  • Middle Lithuania

    In middle Lithuania there are large tracts of wet forest and marches with species such as Black Stork, Lesser-Spotted Eagles, Black Grouse, & Hazel Hens, nearly all (9, except Syrian) species of the European woodpeckers - Black, Grey, Three-toed, White-backed, Middle-spotted Woodpecker and other.
  • Nemunas River Delta area

    Satellite View
    (it is also protected area as Nemunas delta regional park) - is known as Lithuanian bird paradise, where large number of water and marsh birds breed and hundreds of thousands of migrating birds stop en route. More than 300 species have been observed here, and nearly 200 species breed.
  • Southern & Eastern Lithuania

    In Southern/Eastern Lithuania the pure sandy soils produce a landscape with pine forests and small villages with such species as Capercaillie, European Roller, Hoopoe, Tengmalm's Owl, European Nightjar and others. Large numbers of nice clean lakes are home to such breeding species as Osprey and Black-throated Diver.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 342

    (As at February 2019)

    National Bird - White Stork Ciconia ciconia

  • iGoTerra Checklist

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

  • Lietuvos Paukščių: Pažinimo Vadovas (Lithuanian Birds)

    | By Vytautas Jusys, Saulius Karalius & Liutauras Raudonikis | Publishing House Lututė | 2012 | Hardback | 288 pages, 128 plates with colour photos and colour illustrations; colour distribution maps | Lithuanian with trilingual bird list in English, German, and Lithuanian | ISBN: 9789955371441 Buy this book from
  • Klaipeda Region Ornithological Society

    This Society is an independent organisation thought it is a branch of the Lithuanian Ornithological Society. Its members are the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who are interested in wild birds and their protection in the Klaipeda Region. Society`s emblem is the corncrake.
  • Lithuanian Ornithological Society [Lietuvos Ornitologø Draugija (LOD)]

    Lithuanian Ornithological Society seeks to conserve all bird species in Lithuania by protecting their habitats and, through this, to work for the world's biological diversity and the sustainability of human use of natural resources. - Naugarduko St. 47-3, Vilnius, LT, LT-03208 - Tel.+Fax +370 5 213 04 98

Abbreviations Key

  • BR Lake Žuvintas WII

    InformationSatellite View
    Lake Zuvintas is a typical overgrowing lake. The site contains a rich diversity of bogs, fens and aquatic communities and rich flora of vascular plants - about 600 species. It has the status of Important Bird Area (IBA)
  • NP Aukštaitija

    InformationSatellite View
    Aukštaitija National Park is a national park in north-eastern Lithuania, about 100 km north of Vilnius. Sixty-four species of plant, eight species of fungus and 48 species of bird found in the park are included in Lithuania's Red book. The park is famous for its biodiversity: 59% of all plant species in Lithuania can be found in the park, which covers less than 1% of Lithuania.
  • NP Curonian Spit (Kuršių Nerija)

    InformationSatellite View
    Covering an area of 18 thousand hectares, the Kursiu Nerija National Park was designated to protect the unique scenic beauty of the Kursiu Nerija, a narrow peninsula separating the Kursiu Marios (Curonian Lagoon) from the Baltic Sea.
  • NP Dzūkija

    InformationSatellite View
    Dzukija National Park was designated in 1991 in the region of Varena. Its aim is to protect the landscape, the old villages, historical and cultural monuments, and forests of south-eastern Lithuania. The park's territory is 55 thousand hectares, 85 per cent of which is covered by woods.
  • NP Žemaitija

    InformationSatellite View
    Samogitia National Park or Žemaitija National Park is is situated on the Samogitian Highlands, 45 km from the Baltic Sea. Lakes cover more than 7% of its territory. Lake Plateliai (12.05 km², 47 m depth) is the largest lake.
  • NR Kamanos Strict Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    The largest mire complex in the northern Lithuania region, including raised bogs, fens, transitional bogs with numerous small lakes, pools, canals and surrounding wet forests. A great diversity of habitats provides excellent conditions for numerous species of rare and threatened plants and animals. 180 - birds (87 species breed in the territory)
  • NR Praviršulio tyrelis

    InformationSatellite View
    Praviršulio tyrelis, also known as the Pravirsulio Tyrelis State Nature Reserve, is a nature reserve outside Šiauliai in Lithuania with many rare examples of flora and fauna. The reserve is home to at least 100 different bird species, 14 of which appear in Lithuania's Red Book.
  • NR Čepkeliai Marsh

    InformationSatellite View
    Cepkeliai is the habitat of a great variety of birds. It has one of the largest populations of Grus grus and Tetrao urogalus in Lithuania. It is also the domain of Circaetus gallicus, Pandion haliaetus, Haliaetus albicilla, Bubo bubo, Picus canus, etc. Of birds characteristic of marshlands, mentioned shuld be made of Crex crex, Pluvialis apricaria, Tringa glareola and Tringa tatanus.
  • Regional Parks of Lithuania

    WebsiteSatellite View
    A typical entry
  • WII Nemunas Delta

    InformationSatellite View
    The area of the park stretches for more than 29,000 ha. It covers part of the delta of the Nemunas with the Ventë Cape, the island of Rusnë, the islands of Ragininkø and Galzdonø, Krokø Lankos Lake, the Aukstumalës, Rupkalviø and Medzioklës raised bogs. The territory of the regional park also encompasses Berstø, Zalgiriø and Leitgiriø forests. The eastern edge of the park comes close to the city of Silutë, the water territory of the Curonian Lagoon, 8-12km in width, separates it from the Curonian Spit. The southern edge of the park runs along the Rusnë - thus the Nemunas is called down Pagëgiai from the Gilija branch. Still lower, at the island of Rusnë, it splits into two major branches-the Atmata and the Skirvytë.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • Birding Lithuania

    Facebook Page
    Latest observations, birdwatching hot-spot reviews, ornithological achievements and more related to birding in Lithuania!
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Birding Lithuania

    Facebook Page
    Although our company, ‘Birding Lithuania Tours’ (Gamtos turai LT), is a recently established enterprise the founders have accumulated vast experience guiding birdwatching tours in Lithuania over very many years.
  • Lithuanian Tours

    Tour Operator
    Ornithology tour in Lithuania. Observe many various species of birds and dive into the calming and relaxing time at the Baltic Sea while getting to know Lithuanian nature. This bird watching tour includes visit to one of the best bird watching places in East Europe - Vente cape where migrating birds stop before departure to North in spring and South in autumn.
Trip Reports
  • 2012 [05 May] - Howard Williams

    …These areas had mixed oak woodland also with dead trees where woodpeckers could be viewed well as there is still a lot of leaves on the trees at the moment. Here we had six species of woodpecker including white backed, middle spotted and grey headed. Large mixed tit flocks were evident throughout the forestry. Late Golden Oriole was also seen briefly as were both adult and juvenile cuckoo - late records. Also of interest at this location was a merlin hunting starling - not a common sight in central Lithuania my guide assured me - he was very excited….
  • 2012 [12 December] - Mark Hows

    …After filling the feeders we went for a walk through the wood. We were quickly on to a white backed woodpecker, then a black woodpecker and finally some brief views of a three toed woodpecker. We headed back to the cabin to watch the feeders which now had marsh, Willow, Blue and Great tits a nuthatch and then the woodpeckers started to arrive, great spotted the first, followed by black then white backed which the great spotted took exception to…
  • 2014 [09 September] - Vincent van der Spek - Lithuania & Kaliningrad

    PDF Report
    ...The Curonian Spit, shared by Lithuania and the Russian enclave Kaliningrad, is a great destination for every one interested in visible migration. Every year millions of migrants pass this 97 km long spit, that is nowhere over 3,6 km wide. In September 2014 my Waternet colleague Luc Geelen and I attendend a Coastal and Marine (EUCC) conference at Klaipėda University, Lithuania....
  • 2016 [05 May] - Simon Boswell

    PDF Report
    This was a last minute birding trip to Lithuania, a country which I have never visited. Investigation of trip reports on the internet revealed a limited amount of information, especially in relation to site specifics. However, the location of the country along the Baltic coast and variety of habitats present results in an excellent avifauna. The plan for the trip was to travel from Vilnius to Klaipeda on the Baltic Coast, followed by visits to Kuronia Spit, Kuronia Lagoon (Figure 1) and the Numenos Delta. I only had five days in total including getting to and from the UK - looking back I could easily have spent two or three more days in the Numenos Delta.
  • 2018 [04 April] - Ian Merrill

    PDF Report
    This short Easter trip was instigated by the desire to see Grey-headed Woodpecker which, at the time of our visit, was the only bird in the whole of Europe to have eluded me. It is apparent that this species is becoming increasingly difficult to find further to the west of its range, and is now considered to be extinct in the Fontainbleau Forest of Central France, once a breeding stronghold. Narrowing down the options, Lithuania was soon identified as the most reliable and cost-effective location in which to hunt for this charismatic bird, supported by a rich backup of northern forest species including White-backed and Middle-spotted Woodpeckers.
Places to Stay
  • One Hundred Birds House

    This homestead-grange is situated in the picturesque Kurtuvėnai regional park. The cottage has a guest house, which has three bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room and a bathroom with shower.
Other Links
  • Orni - Lithuanian Birders Community

    Website for the lithuanian birders community
Photographers & Artists
  • Bird Pix

    Gallery of bird images… The Lithuanian bird photographers club.

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