Republic of Belarus

Great Grey Owl Strix nebulas ©Gabor Orban Website
Birding Belarus

Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered by Russia to the north and east, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the north. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno (Hrodna), Gomel (Homiel), Mahilyow (Mahiloŭ) and Vitebsk (Viciebsk). Forty percent of the country is forested, and its strongest economic sectors are agriculture and manufacturing.Belarus is landlocked, relatively flat, and contains large tracts of marshy land. According to a 2005 estimate by the United Nations, 40% of Belarus is covered by forests. Many streams and 11,000 lakes are found in Belarus. Three major rivers run through the country: the Neman, the Pripyat, and the Dnepr. The Neman flows westward towards the Baltic sea and the Pripyat flows eastward to the Dnepr; the Dnepr flows southward towards the Black Sea. Belarus’s highest point is Dzyarzhynskaya Hara (Dzyarzhynsk Hill) at 345 metres (1,130 ft), and its lowest point is on the Neman River at 90 metres (300 ft).[67] The average elevation of Belarus is 525 feet (160 m) above sea level. The climate ranges from harsh winters, with average January temperatures at −6 °C (21.2 °F), to cool and moist summers with an average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F). Belarus has an average annual rainfall of 550 to 700 millimeters (21.7 to 27.5 inches). The country experiences a yearly transition from a continental climate to a maritime climate.

Belarus’s natural resources include peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomite (limestone), marl, chalk, sand, gravel, and clay. About 70% of the radiation from neighboring Ukraine’s 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster entered Belarusian territory, and as of 2005 about a fifth of Belarusian land (principally farmland and forests in the southeastern provinces) continues to be affected by radiation fallout. The United Nations and other agencies have aimed to reduce the level of radiation in affected areas, especially through the use of caesium binders and rapeseed cultivation, which are meant to decrease soil levels of caesium-137.

Recent changes have made the country more accessible to birders including needing no visa for visits of less than a week. Much remains unspoilt with a similar avifauna to Poland and much less urbanisation.

Top Sites
  • Servech Mire

    Satellite View
    It has recently been reported that the largest colony of aquatic warblers in the world is in Zvanec Mire IBA Other species: Spotted Eagle - 1-2 pairs, Spotted Crake 1000-4000, Corncrake, Eagle Owl, Savi's Warbler (1500-3000 pairs), Grasshopper Warbler (100-200 pairs).
Contributors
  • Alexandre Vintchevski

    Minsk | A.Vintchevski@tut.by

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 317

    As of June 2018

    National Bird: White Stork Ciconia ciconia

Checklist

  • iGoTerra Checklist

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

  • Directory of Important Bird Areas in Belarus

    (Terytoryi, Vazhnyia Dlia Ptushak u Belarusi: Kataloh) | By SV Levy | Riftur | 2015 | Hardback | 151 pages, b/w photos, colour illustrations, colour maps, colour tables | ISBN: 9789859031694 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Organisations
  • Akhova Ptushak Belarusi [APB-BirdLife Belarus]

    Website
    (In Russian) PO Box 306, Minsk 220050 +375 17 280 18 87 info@ptushki.org
  • West Belarussian Society for Birds Preservation

    Website
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • Akhova Ptushak Belarusi [APB-BirdLife Belarus]

    WebsiteSatellite View
    All IBAs in Belarus and a good country map.
  • Belarusian National Parks

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Some pictures and information about National Parks. Nowever local conservationists say: National parks are not recommended as birding destinations as nature there is quite exploited. All rare birds are easier to see outside Belarusian national parks. Birding in national park is support for further nature destruction!
  • NP Belovezhskaya Pushcha

    InformationSatellite View
    is a national park within parts of the Brest Region (Kamyanyets District and Pruzhany District) and Grodno Region (Svislach District) in Belarus adjacent to the Polish border. It is a preserved part of the UNESCO WHS Białowieża Forest, the last primaeval forest fragment of the European woodlands that once stretched across the European Plain. It is home to a large population of European bison, the continent's heaviest land animals. The border between the two countries runs through the forest with the Białowieża National Park on the Polish side of the border. Since May 2015 there has been a visa-free regime within the forest for hikers and cyclists at the Pererov-Białowieża border crossing.
  • NP Braslaw Lakes

    InformationSatellite View
    Braslaw Lakes is one of the four national parks in Belarus. It is a unique ecosystem with a number of lakes and a large area of pine forests. It has a total area of about 700 km2 (270 sq mi). Of the rare species listed in the Belarusian Red Book, the area is the home of the badger, lynx, brown bear, and swan. The swan was almost extinct in this area but now inhabits the Braslav lakes. Other native species include the black stork, common crane, silver seagull, willow grouse, and dunlin. The lakes of Braslav are rich with different kinds of fish. Pike, eels, perch, bream & tench are widespread. Also widespread are boar, roe deer, squirrel, brown and white hare, fox, raccoon, wolf, pine marten, otter, and mink.
  • NP Narаchanski (Narochansky)

    InformationSatellite View
    Mammal species occurring in the park include red deer, raccoon dog, European badger, marten, and otter; fish species include common bream, silver bream, and crucian carp.The national park also includes 218 species of birds, including bittern, osprey and common crane.
  • NP Pripyat Marshes

    InformationSatellite View
    Pripyatsky National Park or Pripyat National Park is a natural reserve in Gomel Region, Belarus. It was founded in 1996 for preservation of natural landscapes around the Pripyat River from which it takes its name. Much of the park's area is occupied by turf swamps. Pripyatsky National Park is home to 51 species of mammals, including elk, wild boar, red deer, European badger, and Eurasian lynx.
  • Wetlands

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The convention entered into force in Belarus on 25 August 1991. Belarus currently has 26 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 765,617 hectares.
Guides & Tour Operators


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

  • APB Wetland Centre

    Tour Operator
    APB Wetland Centre is a daughter company of APB-BirdLife Belarus, the largest non-governmental conservation organisation in Belarus. APB works for nature protection together with over 6,000 members, volunteers and supporters. It has identified 53 Important Bird Areas and due to our efforts most of those are now under protection by the State. APB Wetland Centre organises birding and wildlife tours to a variety of exciting wildlife reserves in Belarus. We prepare tours for beginners and experts with the emphasis on seeing rare birds and wildlife, experiencing the beauty of the country.
  • Branta Tours

    Tour Operator
  • Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    Belarus will most probably become one of the prime birding destinations in Europe. This country that is the Eastern neighbour of Poland is second to none. The variety of birds that includes several highlight species very rarely seen in other parts of Europe is only one aspect. Imagine roads taking you through ancient forests, hundreds of meandering rivers, the biggest marshes and fens of the continent, while you hardly meet any traffic or even people…
Trip Reports


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

  • 2011 [05 May] - Paul Marshall

    Report PDF
    …It had been a fantastic first day with nearly 100 species seen and many of them very well. (…) The walk in the forest produced a number of exciting species. First was an adult Lesser Spotted Eagle that circled overhead giving excellent views. This was quickly followed by multiple Black Storks, Honey Buzzard, half a dozen Hobbies, Marsh and Hen Harriers. (…)Birds were everywhere….
  • 2012 [05 May] - Barrie Cooper

    Report PDF
    …Great birding tour with Ecotours Wildlife Holidays to appreciate the rich biodiversity of Southern Belarus. The main areas visited were Turov, Belowezhskaya Pusha and Sporovo….
  • 2012 [05 May] - Brian Clasper

    Report
    …The marshes ,fens and water meadows support a wealth of Waders, Terns as well as a few speciality species such as Aquatic warbler , Terek sandpiper and Great Snipe. The forest and woodlands support all the species of European woodpecker with a good list of Owl species , warblers & Flycatchers but the the star bird is the Azure tit…
  • 2013 [05 May] - Andrew Clements

    Report PDF
    …The final evening log also included nominations for the best birds and most memorable moments of the trip – Citrine Wagtail vied with Pygmy and Great Grey Owl for the best bird, while the choices for best moment ranged from the sight of four male Montagu's Harriers hunting across the same huge field, to the three Whooper Swans etched against the forest skyline….
  • 2013 [05 May] - Christopher Hall

    Report
    …More ‘backyard’ birds came thick and fast, like the River Warbler in the scope, singing its long mechanical ‘song’ from a constantly wide open beak while the tail quivered, and the Bluethroat, also watched in the scope perched on the same fence as the Azure Tit earlier on….
  • 2017 [05 May] - Richard Thomas

    PDF Report
    This was a short visit with the primary aims of seeing Azure Tit and Great Grey Owl: both were achieved, and plenty of other good species were recorded too during a most enjoyable long weekend. A visit later in May or June could easily include a site to see Aquatic Warblers on their breeding grounds as well as more of the later arriving migrants to the country.
  • 2018 [05 May] - Ann & Trevor Jones

    PDF Report
    ...The hedgerows produced the first sounds of Thrush Nightingale and Golden Oriole, sounds that would follow us throughout our journey. Two Hawfinches also showed well...
  • 2018 [05 May] - Nik Borrow

    PDF Report
    This incredible tour was our fourth visit to the well-kept secret that is Belarus. This land-locked country in eastern Europe nestles between Russia in the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest and was at least certainly ‘off the radar’ to many ecotourists until relatively recently. There are no words to really prepare the visitor for the apparent remoteness of the country; over 40% is covered in beautiful natural forests and the open areas are comprised of expansive marshes and rural countryside interspersed with the odd town.
Other Links
  • Belarusian Nature

    Website
    Lots of background information on Natural Belarus.
  • Birdwatch in Belarus

    Website
    This website about observations of birds in Belarus
  • Guide To Bird Watching In Belarus

    Webpage
    “Imagine a land of ancient forests, hundreds of meandering rivers, the biggest marshes of the continent, and roads where you hardly meet any traffic or even people – this is the wild country of Belarus!” – that is how a popular British bird watching website describes our country.

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND