Black-throated Thrush Turdus ruficollis atrogularis ©Charlie Moores
Birding the Urals

The Urals area of Russia consists of the Republics of Komi, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Mari El and Udmurtia and the ‘oblasts’ of Kirov, Perm, Novgorod, Ul’yanovsk, Sanara, Saratov, Orenburg, Chelyabinsk, Kurgan and Yekaterinburg.

The region is interesting because of its location: the Ural mountings represent a natural border between Europe and Asia. In such a way, the flora and fauna of the region is very rich and can have radical differences from one place to another. On the south of the Urals lays the steppe zone where it’s possible to see such birds as Steppe Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Demoiselle Crane and Little Bustard. Along the Belaya-river remain large plots of old forests, and numerous populations of predatory birds, for example, Eagle Owl, breed here. Closer to the north, the steppe changes to mountain taiga. Fast-flowing rivers with stone bottoms, taiga forests, elfin woodlands and mountain tundra will meet you here. The highest site is 1894m up, and usual height at the Middle Ural is close to 800-1000m above sea level. Dark coniferous forests dominate on the west mountain sides, and on the east side pine and cedar-pine are more common. More than 150 species of birds have been recorded here, and among them there are a lot of Siberian species, such as Red-flanked Bluetail, Black-throated Thrush and Pine Bunting. Up in the taiga forests and the tundra are Willow Grouse, Tundra Grouse, Common Dotterel and many others.

Top Sites
  • Belaya-River

    The environs of the Belaya-River is one of the most interesting and ornithologically rich sites in the region. A landscape of river banks with the scenerey often changing from one bank to another. You can find here coniferous taiga forests, alder and birch river-valley forests, meadows, willow bushes and small bogs. This variety determines a rich avifauna. More than 130 species of birds have been recorded here. The most important peculiarity is a very high density of predatory birds. Especially Peregrines, Eagle Owls, Golden Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and Osprey. Moreover, rhe river channels have a lot of waterfowl.
  • Katay Lake

    The banks of the lake attracts the great attention of birdwatchers and ornithologists. Lots of water loving boirds and waterfowl can be found here in a very short time. Close to you settle Swans, Bald-coots, Common Pochards and other ducks. Groups of Turnstones, Dunlins, Black-winged Stilts, Sandpipers, and Black-tailed Godwits forage on the shore and are easily observed. All these birds use the Katay Lake as a breeding site, and in the middle summer you can be lucky to see their nests and nestlings.
  • Pechoro-Ilytchsky Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    This part of the northern Urals near Pechora-river is original and unsurpassed. The mountain taiga forests are inhabited by special avifauna, including such rare species as Golden Eagle, Eagle Owl, Great Grey Owl, Hawk Owl and Marsh Owl. There are a lot of Galliformes birds, and in spring it’s possible to see large leks of Capercailyes and Black Grouses. Big flocks of Red-breasted Geese, Scoters and Pintails on their spring migration have a rest on the river channel. On the highest mountain levels live Tundra Grouse, Common Dotterels, Snow Buntings and Shore Larks.
  • Tchekinskaya Steppe

    This site represents an area of untouched feather-grass steppe. Landscape diversity bordered by different sized rivers and mixed forests with well-developed under storey. A lot of rare bird species can be found here including Steppe Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Serpent Eagle, Saker Falcon, Peregrine, Demoiselle Crane, Halcyon, Golden Plover and Little Bustard breeding here.
Useful Reading

  • Materials Toward the Distribution of Birds in the Urals, Cisuralia and West Siberia

    By Vadim Konstantinovich Ryabitsev | 1998 | Paperback | 235 pages, no illustrations | Russian Text | ISBN: 9785884640054 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The Birds of Southern Transuralia

    By TK Blinova & VN Blinov | Nauka Publishers | 1999 | Hardback | 296 pages, no illustrations | ISBN: 9785020312388 Buy this book from NHBS.com

Abbreviations Key

  • NR Bashkiriya

    InformationSatellite View
    Bashkirsky Nature Reserve (Zapovednik) (Russian: Башкирский) is located in the central part of the Bashkir (Southern) Urals. It features forested mountain slopes from the western slopes of the southern Ural Mountains to the Kaga River, and a displays the transition from mountain forest to steppe-forest. Because of its location at the meeting point of several ecoregions, the reserve has high levels of biodiversity. he reserve records 812 species of vascular plants, 95 species algae, 42 of fungi (macromycetes), 322 of lichens, and 124 of mosses.[2] The animals of the reserve are those typical of the southern Ural forests - brown bear, squirrel, lynx, red squirrel, and grouse. the park has recorded 275 species of vertebrates, including 17 species of fish, 3 of amphibians, 6 of reptiles, and the 196 species of birds and 53 species of mammals. The fast, cold streams support trout.
  • NR East Ural Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    As a state "radiation reserve", the site functions for the protection of a contaminated area, and for long-term scientific study of the effects of radiation on the forest-steppe ecology on the east slope of the southern Ural Mountains. The reserve is situated in the Ozyorsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast. It was formally established in 1968, and covers 16,600 ha (64 sq mi). The reserve, as of 2007, is under the control of a private corporation, which conducts regular radiation and radio ecological monitoring
  • NR Pechora-Ilych

    InformationSatellite View
    This nature reserve is in the Komi Republic, Russia. It currently occupies 7,213 square kilometers and forms the core of the World Heritage Site Virgin Komi Forests. Moose, beavers, squirrels, pine martens are abundant in the reserve. Sables are known to live in the piedmont forest region of the reserve. The large predators include brown bears, wolves, and wolverines. Ten mustelid species make the reserve their home, from the largest, the wolverine, to the least weasel, as well as the ermine, the American and European mink, the pine marten, the sable, and the Siberian weasel.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Ecological Travel Center - Migrating birds of Volga delta

    Tour Operator
    The Volga delta is the largest in Europe and it occupies a triangle of 100 (length) x 200 (wide) km. A lot of different landscapes can be found when on the way from Astrakhan through the delta to the Caspian Sea. Extensive pastures are crisscrossed by broad waterways and fast running streams, which turn into well developed floodplain forests with huge amounts of willows, poplars and alders. Typical birds of the area are: Great Black-headed Gull, White-tailed Eagle, Caspian Tern, Dalmatian Pelican, Penduline Tit, Night Heron and Cetti's Warbler
Trip Reports
  • 2015 [06 June] - Hanna & Janne Aallon

    ...The meadow was full of nice birds: Booted Warblers were everywhere and also Blyth’s Reed Warbler was very common. Some couples of Siberian Stonechats were active and soon we heard a singing Siberian Chiffchaff. We followed a path on the western side of the river but after some 45 minutes walking the river turned in front of us and it was impossible to continue towards the bushy area that we wanted to go. Anyway we saw more and more birds like Yellow and Citrine Wagtails, Penduline Tits, Bluethroats, Common Rosefinches and so on. Some Steppe Gulls flew over us and a couple of Black Kites were soaring on the sky, a Corn Crake was calling and Grasshopper and River Warbler singing.
  • 2016 [07 July] - Janne Aalto

    ...We we driving along a track that left south-east from Inta. We passed some coal mines and gas factories and reached the forests soon. There we started to make stops. We were sitting on the back where we had a button that told driver if we wanted to get out. On the first stop we heard some Arctic Warblers, a Siberian Chiffchaff and also saw briefly one Olive-backed Pipit that was singing only very shortly....
Other Links
  • Birds of Chuvashia

    Photosite "Birds of Chuvashia" created for unification of all bird lovers, bird watchers, photographers, biologists, Chuvash Republic. Forms the basis of site photos of birds and Chuvashia, in which several thousand photos of more than 200 species…

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