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.
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.
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