Bird Watching

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When we consider the diversity of bird species in Turkey, both migratory and non-migratory, we can see that Turkey is a unique place for watching birds. There are two major reasons for this abundance, Turkey's range of different ecosystems and it's position on bird's migratory routes.

There are 7 distinct geographical areas in Turkey, each with it's own natural features, ecosystems, climate and wildlife. These include, arid steppe, deciduous and coniferous forests, mountains, coastal areas and more. Such richness offers many opportunities for wild birds and other wildlife of all kinds.

Many of the birds which migrate between Europe and Africa each year, choose to fly via Turkey. Some of these, stay and breed here whilst many more just pass through. Spring and autumn therefore offer unrivalled opportunities to see the migrating masses. Even in the great metropolis of Istanbul, migrating birds can be seen in significant numbers.


Wetlands are the most important ecosystems, for wild birds, and there are many important examples in Turkey.

The most important is Manyas Kuscenneti, south of the Marmara sea near the town of Bandırma. This lake, of just 64 hectares, is home to more species of bird than anywhere else in Turkey. More than 60 species of bird, including various Owls, Ibis, Heron and Ducks breed here every year.

Located south of the Erciyes mountain, Sultansazligi is a splendid wetland that includes marshes, swamps, fresh and saltwater lakes. Included in the species seen here is a very large colony of greater flamingos.

Among other wetlands of Importance include Izmir Kuscenneti, a coastal wetland, located on Gediz Delta. Despite the close by city, this wetland exhibits an enormous variety of water birds, including breeding colonies of Pelicans and Greater Flamingoes. The wetlands of Yumurtalik, Akyatan and Agyatan are also places of extreme importance for wintering waterfowl in cold winters.

Egirdir and Beysehir lakes are located to the Northwest of Taurus mountains, part of the seven lakes region, and are resting points for migratory birds. Eregli Sazliklari (marshland) on the North of middle Taurus range, has fresh and salt water ecosystems and of course a variety of bird species. The lakes of Karamuk, Eber and Aksehir are freshwater wetlands at the west part of Central Anatolia. They are the favorite localities of wintering geese. Tuz Gölü, a saltwater lake and the second largest lake of the country, is a place to look for Greater Flamingoes, Cranes, Avocets, Geese, Gulls and other waterbirds.


There are a number of major river systems in Turkey, including the world famous Euphrates and many lesser known ones. Many of these have deltas including the Kızılırmak and the Göksu which are very important habitats.


Turkey has many mountain ranges, where the alpine meadows and forested lower slopes are home to many species of bird. The Kackar mountains in the North East of the country are particularly interesting, with many endemic wildflower species, as well as many woodland and alpine bird species.

Many of the mountains are extensively forested, especially those in the black sea region. One forest of particular importance is located at Soğuksu National park, close to the capital Ankara. Another is the large Olympos national park near Antalya, an extensive pine forest that extends from the mountains down to the sea.

Sea Shores

Turkey has over 8000 km of coastline, covering sandy beaches, cliffs, salt marshes and more. These coastline are home to many species of sea bird, including many species of gull, cormorants and waders of all kinds. Despite encroachment by tourist industry development, you can still find many areas where birds outnumber sunburned tourists.

Spring Time

Thankfully, spring, the best time to see Turkey's birds, is also outside of peak holiday season, and therefore cheaper and less hassle. Spring is also the time to experience the best weather, before the real hot summer sunshine, makes activity seem less appealing.

Very soon, millions of birds will make their way across the sea from Africa, and for a few short months, add their numbers to those birds already here. Courtship, nesting and hatching will fill the air with birdsong. Those of us who get to sneak a peak at this natural wonder, will consider ourselves lucky indeed.

Sample Tour Program

DAY 01
Arrive Istanbul. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul.

DAY 02
We will visit Camlica Hill early in the morning where we will also have breakfast. Than we will drive to Bursa, which was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. We will see the Green Tomb, Green Mosque and Silk Market in Bursa. Overnight in Bandirma. (B.L.D.)


Day 03
We will start the day early for the Manyas (Bird's Heaven) and explore all day. Overnight in Bandirma.. ( B.Picnic Lunch D. )

Day 04
After breakfast we will visit Manyas (Bird's Heaven) again. Than we will drive to Izmir via Pergamom where the first sanitarium was built in the name of Aeschlepios (The God of Health ) and where the second largest library of that time, after the Alexandria library, was in public service (Also the steepest theatre in Anatolia ) Overnight in Izmir. ( B.L.D. )

Day 05
Before breakfast, we will visit Camalti Saltpan then go back to the hotel for breakfast. After a short sightseeing tour of Izmir, we will return to Camalti Saltpan again. Overnight in Izmir. ( B.L.D. )

Day 06
In the morning, we will drive to Kusadasi, via Ephesus and the house of Virgin Mary. We visit the remains of the Greco-Roman city of Ephesus with it's temples, Agoras, houses and the theatre where the riot against St. Paul started. Also see the Basilica of St. John. Overnight in Kusadasi. ( B.L.D. )


Day 07
Before breakfast we will visit Great Menderes Delta. In the afternoon we will fly
from Izmir to Istanbul.
Overnight in Istanbul. (B.Picnic Lunch D.)

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Day 08
Today, after breakfast, we will have a half day city tour and visit the Blue Mosque,
the Hippodrome and Topkapi Palace or St. Sophia.In the afternoon we will do a boat cruise on the  Bosphorus between Europe and Asia. In the evning, a farewell diner with the belly dancing show. At night you will be taken to an exclusive Turkish night club where you will taste famous Turkish cuisine and see an oriental show with belly dancers, singers and folklore groups from various regions of Anatolia..Overnight in Istanbul, (B.L.D,)

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Day 09
End of the tour. Transfer to Airport


Driving Distance     

Driving Time~

Istanbul - Bandırma

349 km

4,5 hours

Bandirma - Manyas

23 km

30 mins

Manyas -  Izmir 

232 km

3 hours

Izmir - Kusadasi

89 km

1 hour

Places to be seen
Istanbul - Camlica Hill, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Bosphorus, Topkapi Palace or St.
Bursa - Green Tomb, Green Mosque, Silk Market, Manyas Bird Heaven
Izmir - Ephesus , House of Virgin Mary, Basilica of St. John , Pergamon , Great Menderes

Black Stork , stork , peregrine falcon , little forest eagle , herring gull , black winged stilt , marsh swallow , Mediterranean gull , night heron , squacco heron , little egret , grey heron , cormorant , pygmy cormorant , white-tailed eagle , gallinule , gold finch

More than 200 bird species live in the area,
Rush nightingale , pelican , crested pelican , copper crow , rice

Camalti hosts 490 species permenantly .
Plover , crested pelican , flamingo , meditterranean gull ,
penduline kitmouse , king fisher , marsh swallow , herring gull .

Buyuk Menderes
Cormorant , Pygmy Cormorant , Dalmatian Pelican , Squaco Heron , Little Egret , Great Egret , Grey Heron , Flamingo , Marsh Swallow , Herring Gull , Oyster Catcher .

Apart from the periods between the middle of March and the end of May, and from the middle of August until the end of October, it is possible to observe the birds that live permanently in the rushes and lakes all year round.

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