Republic of Slovenia

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops ©Alen Ploj Website
Birding Slovenia

Slovenia is situated in Central Europe between Italy, Austria and Hungary. It is not only one of the youngest, but it is also one of the smallest European countries (measuring 20 256 km2 with about two million inhabitants). It is the meeting point of four European landscapes: Alpine, Dinaric, Pannonian and Mediterranean. Of the total surface area, more than 50% is covered by forest and about 32% is cultivated (Statistical Office of Republic of Slovenia 1996).

Despite its small size, Slovenia has a very diverse landscape and climate, which together contribute to the relatively high numbers of breeding birds. In total, 376 bird species have been recorded in Slovenia. 219 species are breeders in Slovenia. This remarkably high number is due to Slovenia’s position within the Western Palearctic, mentioned above, in the confluence zone for eastern, southern and northern faunal elements. Moreover, many species reach their northern, southern, western or eastern distributional limit here.

Wetlands important for birds in Slovenia include Secovlje Salina at the coast, the Drava and the Mura rivers, with flooded woodlands in northeastern Slovenia, Ljubljansko Barje (marshes) and Lake Cerknica in central part of the country. Some fishponds have become important sanctuaries for biodiversity in areas of modern intensive farming, especially in northeastern Slovenia. The Racki Ribniki fishponds (protected as a Landscape Park with neighbour area) and Vrbje Pond are important both for breeding as well as for migrating bird species (e.g. various ducks, herons, waders, grebes).

Other very valuable bird habitats are the Krakovski forest, forested areas in Notranjsko, in the Julian and Savinja Alps, and the Karst region. A significant number of boreo-montane type bird species, including Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix, Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus, Pygmy Owl Glaucidium passerinum, Ural Owl Strix uralenis, Tengmalm’s Owl Aegolius funereous, and Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides trydactylus are found in the Alps and in the Dinaric region. Good nesting conditions exist also for various woodpeckers and raptors [e.g. Black Woodpecker Drycopus martius, Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides trydactylus, and Golden Eagle Aquilla chrysaetus]. The Dinaric region also has relatively numerous populations of some other animals, especially big mammals such as Bear, Lynx & Wolf.

Areas of lowland meadows and non-intensively cultivated land have virtually disappeared, mostly as a result of intensive agriculture or construction of reservoirs. As a result of large-scale and intensive agriculture production, some species such as Grey Partridge Perdix perdix, Corncrake Crex crex, and Snipe Gallinago gallinago are endangered. On the other hand, some species successfully colonize intensively farmed fields. Examples include Quail Coturnix coturnix, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Little-ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, Alauda arvensis (Skylark); Stonechat Saxicola torquata, and Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava complex. In this region, scattered and isolated forests in agricultural areas are important refuges for small passerines.

In the traditionally extensive rural landscape, fruit or traditional orchards are also very important bird habitats. Many endangered species, mostly hole-nesting, such as Little Owl Athene noctua, Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Hoopoe Upupa epops and Wryneck Jynx torquilla are commonly found in orchards across Slovenia.

Slovenia is one of the top 10 countries within the Western Palearctic for breeding of the following species: Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca, Scops Owl Otus scops, Rock Bunting Emberiza cia, Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis, Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis, Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus, Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus, Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis, & Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus. The first three species have restricted distribution in Slovenia; Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca and Rock Bunting Emberiza cia live almost exclusively in the western Karst and Alpine regions, whereas Scops Owl Otus scops is restricted mainly to the Karst region and the most north-eastern part of the country. It is worth mentioning that relatively high number of the globally threatened Corncrake Crex crex is also found in Slovenia.

Besides nesting, the Drava river and its reservoirs in north-eastern Slovenia are very important also for migrating and wintering species. During the wintering and migration period, the Drava and its reservoirs are the most important site for waterfowl in Slovenia. About 20,000 waterfowl [Goldeneye Bucephala clangula up to 3500, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula up to 7000] winter there. About 100 Goosander Mergus merganser, the same number of Smew Mergus albellus, and up to 6000 Teal Anas crecca regularly winter there too. The Ormoz reservoir on the Drava near the Croatian border is an important site for roosting geese; Bean Geese Anser fabalis up to 4000, and White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons up to 1500.

During spring migration, a huge number of Black Tern Chlidonias niger (4000 – 8000) migrate along the Drava. The nearest agricultural area, Dravsko polje, is important for migrating raptors, including Osprey Pandion haliaetus and Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus and for wintering of Great Egret Ardea alba (up to 50 individuals).

  • Milan Vogrin


Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 376

    (As at August 2018)
  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Birding Aps
  • Birdwatching in Slovenia

    VIDEO - By Steve Evans | Isabelline Films | 2011 | DVD | Runtime 71 Minutes | #206778 |

  • Drustvo Za Opazovanje in Proucevanje Ptic Slovenije - DOPPS (BirdLife Slovenia)

    DOPPS-Birdlife Slovenia is a non-profit, non-government organisation established in 1979. We work in the public interest of nature conservation, environmental protection and research. Our activities attract the participation of over 1000 members, volunteers and nature lovers from all across Slovenia.
  • IxobryChus Ornithological Association (OAI)

    Founded in 1983, the Ornithological Association IXOBRYCHUS (OAI) is one of the oldest ornithological organization in Slovenia devoted to the scientific study of birds. Ixobrychus is primarily an NGO organisation, its membership of 100 includes many amateurs dedicated to the advancement of ornithological science.

Abbreviations Key

  • BR Mura

    WebpageSatellite View
    In March 2011, the ministers of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia pledged to establish a cross-border biosphere reserve Mura-Drava-Danube. The Mura Biosphere Reserve is the first five-state biosphere in the world. Recognizing the mutual dependence of the preserved nature and the opportunities for developing the area for the benefit of the local population and the wider Pomurje region, the municipalities along the Mura River and other stakeholders signed an agreement on the Obmurje Development Partnership. The partnership, together with public services, forms the current management structure and provides the next step in establishing a permanent management structure.
  • NP Triglav

    InformationSatellite View
  • NPa & IBA Sečovlje Saltpans

    InformationSatellite View
    The Secovlje saltpans are so far the only Slovenian wetlands on the list and are famous for their exceptional ecological and landscape value…
  • NR Snežnik

    InformationSatellite View
    The animals living there include brown bears, wolves, deer, wild boars, and lynx, as well as a number of bird species such as the Ural owl, corn crake, western capercaillie, hazel grouse, and golden eagle.
  • NR Strunjan-Stjuža

    InformationSatellite View
    The Strunjan Nature Reserve is part of the Strunjan Nature Park and is located along a 4 km stretch of Adriatic coast between the Simon and Strunjan Bays. It is the longest section of unspoilt coastline in the entire Gulf of Trieste and represents with its land and submersed parts, a natural wonder with extremely important geo-morphologic, geologic, petro graphic, floristic and faunistic aspects. The entire area of the park amounts to around 160 hectares.
  • NR Zelenci

    InformationSatellite View
    Zelenci, considered as being the source of the Sava Dolinka River was declared a nature reserve in 1992. It encompasses not only the emerald green lake, after which it was named, but also its surrounds, to make up a total area of 47 ha. Re-emerging water from an underground stream originating in the Planica Valley forms a 2 m deep lake. The porous chalk bottom of the lake permits a constant up-welling of groundwater in tiny jets, an occurence unique in Slovenia.
  • NR Škocjanski Zatok

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Because of the rich intertwining of semi-arid and freshwater living environments, the Škocjanski zatok is a paradise for many animal and plant species, and therefore for all those who love to observe and experience nature. The area is particularly important due to the large variety of birds. In the last decade, over 122 hectares of the large protected area of ​​the Škocjan spit have been listed by the ornithologists as many as 250 different species.
  • Nature Parks in Slovenia

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The strategy of nature conservation foresees six regional parks. The Caves of
  • Wetlands

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The convention entered into force in Slovenia on 25 June 1991. Slovenia currently has 3 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 8,205 hectares.
Guides & Tour Operators

    Birding Slovenia

    Facebook Page
    we (Birding Slovenia) have a new offer for wildlife travelers - custom guided birding tours in Slovenia. Other similar entities providing that kind of service in Slovenia stopped working or do that very occasionally now.
  • WildSlovenia

    Tour Operator
    Explore the Dinaric forests of southern Slovenia in search of territorial woodpeckers and forest owls and visit scenic limestone cliffs to observe the colourful Wallcreeper. Enjoy breathtaking scenaries in the heart of the Julian Alps. An incredible biodiversity awaits you here: from high-alpine mammals such as Alpine Ibex and Marmot to carpets of colourful endemic flowers, rare birds like Ptarmigan and Snowfinch and a vast selection of rare butterflies.
Trip Reports
  • 2008 [05 May] - Mark Easterbrook

    …We arrived in Croatia near Dubrovnik mid morning to brilliant sunshine and a refreshing sea breeze. Quickly heading off to the hotel in Mlini about 11Km east of Dubrovnik and 8Km from the airport at Chilipi; it was ideally situated and just below the hills described by Jon Hornbuckle; where the Partridges could be…
  • 2009 [07 July] - Allan Finlayson

    Annotated list…
  • 2011 [04 April] - Mark Hows

    …A quick stop at a bridge across a river produced a few crag martins and a black redstart. It was then onto some woodland with a natural spring lake near our Hotel in the town of Kranjska Gora in search of Hazelhen but no luck…
  • 2011 [07 July] - Dave Bird - Triglav National Park

    PDF Report
    Highlight – Wallcreeper - seen at the waterfall „Slap Savica“ (near Ukanc). There is a fence which stops you going closer to the waterfall. Behind the fence on the left and right of the waterfall, low down, on rock face, we had extremely good views of a female bird.
  • 2013 [05 May] - Paul Tout - Istria

    PDF Report
    …As we left the site a woodchat shrike obligingly perched beside the road at one of the stop-offs … very good, but not the best bird of the day! …
  • 2015 [09 September] - Paul Tout

    PDF Report
    The first bird we ran into, feeding from the rail along the cycle path, was a young male common redstart, quickly followed by a small group of lesser whitethroats and a couple of pied flycatchers in the scrub beside the road. These, and the spotted flycatcher and willow warbler we saw as we returned, are all common migrants here in mid-September as the forests of central and northern Europe empty of their trans-Saharan migrants before the weather turns cold.
  • 2016 [03 March] - Paul Tout

    PDF Report
    This holiday, as for every Honeyguide holiday, also puts something into conservation in our host country by way of a contribution to the wildlife that we enjoyed. The conservation contribution of £40 per person was supplemented by Gift Aid and we were able to give £250 to DOPPS (BirdLife Slovenia). As at the end of March 2016, the total for all conservation contributions through Honeyguide since 1991 was £105,338.
  • 2016 [07 July] - Slovenia & Croatia

    PDF Report
    A group of 10 from a UK based Natural History Society spent a really enjoyable time, courtesy of Ecotours Wildlife Holidays, in three centres across Slovenia and Croatia. We had a diverse range of interests across the group which was our reason for choosing this particular tour. We wanted more than just the fabulous birds to be seen in the region.
Places to Stay
  • Mountain House Slovenia

    Accommodation & Outings
    The Green House was completed in 2006 and comfortably accommodates ten in four bedrooms. It keeps to a traditional Slovenian design, but incorporates modern features such as central heating and a fitted kitchen. It is light and spacious without losing a warm and cosy feel.
Other Links
  • Birdlife in Slovenia

    Wetlands important for birds in Slovenia include Secovlje salina at the coast, the Drava and the Mura rivers, with flooded woodlands in northeastern Slovenia, Ljubljansko barje (marshes) and Lake Cerknica in central part of the country. Some fishponds have become important sanctuaries for biodiversity in areas of modern intensive farming, especially in northeastern Slovenia. The Racki ribniki fishponds (protected as a Landscape Park with neighbour area) and Vrbje pond are important both for breeding as well as for migrating bird species (e.g. various ducks, herons, waders, grebes).

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