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Republic of Armenia

Armenian bird
White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis ©Torsten Pröhl Website

Birding Armenia

Armenia is located in the Lesser Caucasus Mountains at the south-eastern limits of the Western Palaearctic. It is contiguous to Iran, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan and situated at the junction of Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It is primarily a mountainous country with elevations above sea level ranging from 379m to 4090m, and with the average elevation is about 1800m above sea level. Various factors, such as the country’s geographical situation, climate and complex geomorphology lead to there being a variety of landscapes and habitats from rocky semi-deserts and mountain steppes to mixed, open juniper and deciduous forests and alpine meadows. The country is crossed by several mountain ranges (Pambak, Geghama, Vardenis, Zangezur etc.), separated with river valleys, the largest of which are Arax, Debed, Akhuryan, Arpa, and Voghji rivers.

Armenia also has numerous smaller rivers running down the mountain slopes, waterlogged meadows and marshes, and various artificial wetlands, such as irrigation canals, fish farming ponds and reservoirs. Natural lakes of variable size found throughout the country, mostly in highlands, the largest of them are Lakes Sevan and Arpilich. The landscape of southern Armenia is particularly rocky, and high cliffs and deep canyons are abundant here. In all regions from lowlands to mid elevations around human habitations are scattered cereal and vegetable fields, gardens and orchards.

These conditions result in unusually rich diversity of flora and fauna in a relatively small country’s territory. Up to the present at least 372 bird species have been reliably recorded in Armenia, of which over 240 species breed here. Many European bird species are represented in Armenia by regional forms, which are normally encountered during a birding trip to the country, while a spring-summer trip of 8-10 days one’s list typically reaches 200-220 species, stuffed with almost all of the Caucasian specialities.

Lakes Sevan and Arpilich hold the world’s largest breeding colonies of Armenian Gull, Citrine Wagtail [recently established as a breeder here], while the latter lake also supports a small breeding population of Dalmatian Pelican. Fish farms in the Ararat plane are home to Glossy Ibis, Pygmy Cormorant, Marbled, Ferruginous and White-headed Ducks. The reeds and scrub here host Ménétries’s, Moustached, Paddyfield and Savi’s Warblers; on the surrounding salt planes White-tailed Lapwing breed and banks of canals are inhabited with White-winged and Whiskered Terns and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater.

The deciduous mountain forests are full of a variety of birds, among which are Lesser-spotted Eagle, Black, Green and Middle-spotted Woodpeckers, samamisicus Redstart, Greenish Warbler, Mountain Chiffchaff, Red-breasted and Semi-collared Flycatchers. The talus slopes that have scrub above the timberline are home to Caucasian Grouse, ‘magna’ Bluethroat and Radde’s Accentor, while in the alpine meadows with mountain springs Horned Lark, ‘Caucasian’ Twite and Red-fronted Serin are found. Crags and scree adjoining the alpine meadows are inhabited by Caspian Snowcock, Crimson-winged Finch and Wallcreeper.

Armenia holds an excellent selection of diurnal and nocturnal birds of prey, including the four European vultures, Short-toed Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Lesser Kestrel, Lanner, Eagle Owl and an isolated relict population of ‘Caucasian’ Tengmalm’s Owl.

Arid hills with rock outcrops in the Arax valley host Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Finsch’s Wheatear, Pale Rockfinch, Trumpeter and Mongolian Finches and Grey-necked Bunting. The foothills of mountains are inhabited by Bimaculated Lark and armenicus Stonechat, in dry gorges with shrubs you can find Eastern Rock Nuthatch, White-throated Robin, Eastern Orphean and Upcher’s Warblers.

Visiting extreme south of the country near the border with Iran can produce observations of Black Francolin, recently discovered here See-see Partridge, chrysopygia Red-tailed Wheatear and Sombre Tit.

Situated on an important migration flyway Armenia offers superb opportunities to see, among many others, such passage migrants as Demoiselle Crane, Black-winged Pratincole, Broad-billed, Terek and Marsh Sandpipers, Pallas’s Gull, Calandra Lark and others. Raptor passage is spectacular and migrants include Eastern Imperial, Greater-spotted, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Pallid and Montagu’s Harriers and Lesser Kestrel. More numerous are Lesser-spotted and Steppe Eagles, Black Kite, ‘Steppe’, Long-legged and Honey Buzzards.

May-June are the best months to visit in spring and summer and during the whole of September and October in autumn. The 8-12 days should be considered as the minimal period to get most of the country’s specialties. Road conditions have been significantly improved during the last few years, but long distance driving is nevertheless slow due to the snaking character of most highways and omnipresent mountain passes. Most of the off-road tracks in remote areas and those leading up to mountains require 4WD vehicles with an experienced driver. These could now be rented locally with or without an optional driver. Various hotels, B&Bs and house-stay-type accommodation are available in all regions of the country, while camping is also possible. Even during the hottest summers, when temperature in lowlands exceeds 30-40c one should expect drastic weather changes high in the mountains, where sudden rain or hail storms are not unusual. Food in Armenia is cheap and diverse and traditional dishes are typically rich in herbs and vegetables, grown in the country.

The richness in birds and other wildlife in conjunction with the famous hospitality of the local people, delicious cuisine, numerous ancient historical and cultural monuments and some of the most impressive scenery in the Western Palaearctic, makes Armenia a worthwhile and rewarding destination for every keen birder. With the handful of resident observers and the lack of a local birdwatching club, large amounts of valuable bird observations from Armenia are still coming from visiting birders. And there are always chances for new discoveries here, as many parts of the country still remain under-watched. Experienced birders and tour operators, who wish to submit their observations from the country to the Armenian Bird Records Database, may do so at the following email address: aves(AT)armeniabirding.info

Top Sites

Armash Fishponds

Information

Satellite View

Situated in the arid and salty semi-deserts of the Arax Valley, is one of the best known birding sites in the country. This is the largest fishery in the area with over 20 ponds where various Carp species are farmed. There is much marginal vegetation in places and reedbeds can be extensive providing excellent habitat for a range of waterbirds during the breeding season, passage periods and winter. With the loss and degradation of other wetlands in Armenia this site is becoming increasingly important and thoroughly deserves official protection. Breeding species include Pygmy Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe and ducks including Ruddy Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck and small numbers of Marbled Duck. Several pairs of White-headed Duck and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters are found to be regular breeders here. Larger wading birds are common and include Glossy Ibis and White Stork as well as Little, Black-crowned Night, Squacco and Purple Herons and Little and Cattle Egrets. White-tailed Plover and Savi`s Warbler are recent colonists, Collared Pratincole, Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers also breed. A good range of wetland warblers is possible in the reedbeds here with Cetti`s, Sedge and Moustached, Paddyfield, Reed and Great Reed all present. Other passerines include Bearded Reedling, Lesser Short-toed Lark, ‘Black-headed’ Wagtail and a thick-billed race of Reed Bunting.

Mount Aragats

Website

Satellite View

This mountain lies to the north-west of Armenia`s capital, Yerevan, and reaches 4090m. It is an excellent area for montane species Horned Lark, Alpine Accentor, Wallcreeper and Snow Finch occur in the more upland areas around Lake Kari along with high-altitude specialities of the area such as Water Pipit, ‘Caucasian’ Twite and Crimson-winged Finch. More widespread upland birds include both rock thrushes, Black Redstart, Northern Wheatear and Ring Ouzel. Western Rock Nuthatch, Ortolan Bunting and Red-billed Chough are common. Raptors are impressive and include Short-toed, Booted and Lesser Spotted Eagles and Long-legged Buzzard in summer and Pallid Harrier and Steppe Eagle in autumn. The lower slopes and scrub hold more of the area`s specialities such as Radde`s Accentor, ‘Caucasian’ Bluethroat, White-throated Robin and the skulking and elusive Barred Warbler. Lesser Grey Shrike also occurs as well as Lesser Whitethroat Cetti`s Warbler and Black-headed Bunting. More wooded areas are home to Goshawk, Mountain Chiffchaff, Golden Oriole and Syrian Woodpecker. Arid foothills of Aragats host Finsch’s and Isabelline Wheatears, Bimaculated Lark and ‘Armenian’ Stonechat.

Contributor

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 363

As at July 2018
See: http://www.armeniapedia.org/index.php?title=List_of_Birds_of_Armenia

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTravel Checklist

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

Useful Reading

A Field Guide to Birds of Armenia

By Martin S Adamian & Daniel Klem, Jr. et al| American University of Armenia | 1997 | Paperback | 220 pages, 61 plates with colour illustrations; 348 colour distribution maps, b/w line drawings |

ISBN: 0965742911

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Handbook to the Birds of Armenia

By Martin S Adamian & Daniel Klem | American University of Armenia Corporation | 1999 | Hardback | 649 pages, Tabs, fold-out reference map |

ISBN: 0965742938

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Armenian Bird Cencus

Website

Armenia is situated at the junction of two - European and Irano-Anatolian - zoogeographical provinces. It is a mountainous country with elevation between 375 and 4090 meters above sea level, with contrast climatic conditions and a large range of habitats from dry semi-deserts to alpine meadows. Being located between Black and Caspian seas, Armenia is actually one of the bridges, connecting the temperate zone of Eurasia with Middle East and Africa. All those factors substantially determine the richness of birds in Armenia. At present there are 372 species of birds, recorded in Armenia, including 234 breeding and 138 migratory or wintering species (see Checklist to Birds of Armenia). High species diversity in Armenia and in the whole Caucasus was one of the reasons to include the region into the list of 35 Global Biodiversity Hotspots.

Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds

Website

Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds (ASPB), established in 2002, is a non-governmental organization which strives to conserve birds, habitats upon which they depend and areas of strategic importance to birds through active involvement of local communities using birds as important advocacy tool. Since 2007 Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds is the only affiliated partner of BirdLife International, and since 2009 is the first official partner of IUCN in Armenia.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

NP Arevik

Information

Satellite View

Arevik National Park, is one of the four protected national parks of the Republic of Armenia. Occupying an area of 344 km2, it is located in the southern Syunik Province of Armenia. Among over 180 species of birds recorded in the national park, there are number of species included in Red Book of the Republic of Armenia: lammergeyer, griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, Levant sparrowhawk, woodchat shrike, and others.

NP Dilijan

Information

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Dilijan National Park, is one of the 4 protected national parks of the Republic of Armenia. Occupying an area of 240 km², it is located in the north-eastern Tavush Province of Armenia. It is known for its forest landscapes, rich biodiversity, medicinal mineral water springs, natural and cultural monuments. Birds are also abundant represented by 150 species including black grouse (Tetrao mlokosievicsi), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), bearded eagle (Gypaetus barbatus aureus), Caspian snowcock (Tetraogallus caspius) and others. Over 40 species of mammals are registered in the national park such as red deer (Cervus elaphus), brown bear (Ursus arctos), fox (Vulpes vulpes), lynx (Lynx), wolf (Canis lupus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), wild cat (Felis silvestris), roe (Capreolus capreolus), badger (Meles meles), squirrel (Sciurus anomalus) and others.

NP Lake Arpi

Information

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Lake Arpi National Park[1] is one of four protected national parks of the Republic of Armenia. Occupying an area of 250 km², it is in the northwestern Shirak Province. Formed in 2009, it is located around Lake Arpi at the Shirak and Javkheti plateau, at a height of 2000 meters above sea level. The park is surrounded by the Yeghnakhagh mountains in the west and the Javakheti Range in the northwest.

NP Sevan

Information

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Sevan National Park, is one of the 4 protected national parks of the Republic of Armenia, founded in 1978 to protect Lake Sevan and the surrounding areas. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Nature Protection and includes a research center, which monitors the ecosystems, and undertakes various conservation measures. Licensed fishing on the lake is also regulated. Up to 267 bird species have been recorded in Sevan Basin.

S Arzakan-Meghradzor

Information

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The Arzakan-Meghradzor Sanctuary is a protected area in the Armenian Kotayk Province. The sanctuary covers an area of 135.32 km² in the Hrazdan forest. The sanctuary protects mountain forests consisting mainly of oak trees. This environment forms a valuable habitat for animals like the brown bear, roe deer and the caucasian black grouse.

SR Erebuni

Information

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Erebuni State Reserve is nature protected area of Armenia located in the Yerevan, located around 8 km southeast of the centre of the city in the District of Erebuni. At a height between 1300 and 1450 meters above sea level, the reserve occupies an area of 120 hectares, mainly consisted of semi-deserted mountains-steppe

SR Goravan Sands

Information

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Goravan Sands Sanctuary, is a state protected area in Ararat Province, Armenia.

SR Khosrov Forest

Information

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Birdlife in the reserve accounts for 56 per cent of the avifauna in Armenia. There are 192 bird species found in reserve from 44 families. From them 63 species are residing, 83 nesting, 83 occurring from migrations, 11 wintering, 10 vagrants and 5 casual.

SR Shikahogh

Information

Satellite View

Shikahogh State Reserve is Armenia’s second largest forest reserve, covering some 10,330 ha of land, and located in southern Armenia in the Syunik Province. Environmentalists have said it has been largely unaffected by Armenia’s massive post-Soviet deforestation due to its remote location and care shown by residents of nearby villages.

Wetlands of International Importance

Website

Armenia presently has 2 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 492,239 hectares.

Guides & Tour Operators

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

Arara - Bird Watching Tour in Armenia

Tour Operator

Despite the fact that Armenia is a small country it has a surprisingly rich diversity of flora and fauna. About 345 bird species are recorded here! By choosing our exclusive Birding Tour in Armenia you will have a great opportunity to take part in a 10-day journey and observe many kinds of semi-desert, forest, high-mountain and water birds. At Lake Sevan, you will visit the Gull Island and observe endemic Armenian Gulls (Larus armenicus) and various migrant waders. Moreover, you will visit various ancient attractions and get in touch with ancient times!

Birdwatching Breaks

Tour Operator

Our tour covers the main birdwatching areas of Armenia, a country slightly smaller than Belgium. We start in Yerevan before travelling north to Dilijan, a forested region with breeding Semi-collared and Red-breasted Flycatchers. Several birding sites are close to Yerevan including Lake Sevan and an Armenian Gull colony…

Ecotour Armenia

Tour Operator

The company offers various guided tour packages as well as services for individuals and groups. We are providing the high-level services and support in the all stages of tour planning according to the client’s specifications.

Ecotourism Armenia

Tour Operator

…Up to the present about 347 bird species have been recorded in Armenia, of which about 237 species breed here. Many of European bird species are represented in Armenia by particular subspecies, while almost all of the Caucasian specialities are habitually encountered during a birdwatching trip…

Voyage Armenia - Birds of Armenia

Tour Operator

Trip Reports

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CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2008 [May] - Nigel Redman

Report

This tour to Georgia and Armenia encompassed the full range of altitudes and habitats of the Caucasian region, from lowland marshes in the Armash region to snowfields in the high Caucasus…

2010 [May] - Nigel Redman

Report

Our tour to Georgia and Armenia encompassed the full range of altitudes and habitats of the Caucasian region, from lowland marshes in the Armash region to snowfields in the high Caucasus…

2012 [May] - Mark Finn

Report

…The forests at Dilijan gave us the chance to study Semi-collared and Red-breasted Flycatchers, Green Warbler and Levant Sparrowhawk. Lake Sevan produced a surprise with a pair of summering Greater Scaup and colonies of Armenian Gulls. The journey south to Meghri added the localised Lesser Kestrel, Persian Nuthatch, White-throated Robin and Sombre Tit…

2013 [May] - Garry Armstrong - Georgia & Armenia

PDF Report

…Working through the scrub turned up 2 Mountain Chiffchaff, quite distinct from Common Chiffchaff when seen well, as well as a Lesser Grey Shrike, a Black-eared Wheatear among many Northern Wheatear and several Ring Ouzel which turned out to be common around the village. Snow-cocks were calling…

2014 [05 May] - Thomas Pettersson

PDF Report

This is a short report with information on logistics and, of course, the birds we saw. The time of visit was a compromise. We combined this trip with a visit to Greater Caucasus in Georgia and we actually wanted to go earlier to improve the chances to catch up with high altitude species in Georgia. On the other hand this would mean that lat e migrants should not have arrived in Armenia. Furthermore early May in Armenia is usually a very rainy period, with more stable weather later in month. In hindsight we were very lucky with the weather, calm or weak winds throughout and only a couple of sh owers on one day.

2014 [05 May] - Wim Heylen - Georgia & Armenia

PDF Report

The Armenia leg of the trip was organised through the Armenian Soc iety for the Protection of Birds (ASPB) - c ontact person is Tsovinar Hovhannisyan ( armbirds@yahoo.com ) .

2016 [05 May] - Jeff Hopkins - Armenia & Georgia

PDF Report

Birding in Armenia and Georgia ( W ith a F ew Steps Into Azerbaijan and a S ide of Turkey) April -­‐ May 2016 by Jeff Hopkins I have always wanted to visit the Caucasus, even since before I was a birder. There was just always something intriguing and exotic about it to me. So when I saw Birdquest offering a short tour to Georg ia, I jumped at the opportunity to go there and to Armenia. Birding -­‐ wise both countries are fantastic with some really special species. I wound up with 169 species and 16 l ifers. I’d recommend both for any birder.

2016 [05 May] - Petri Hottola - Armenia via Georgia

PDF Report

The main target species of the trip were as follows: For Georgia – Caucasian Grouse , Cauca sian Snowcock , Güldenstädt’s Redstart and Great Rosefinch . For Armenia – Dalmatian Pelican , Caspian Snowcock , See - see Partridge , Radde’s Accentor , Eurasian Crimson - winged Finch , Mongolian Finch and Black - headed Bunting . Even though my life list already was around 7.300 in April 2016 , I still missed some relatively common species such as the pelican and the bunting .

2016 [05 May] - Steve Piotrowski - Armenia & Georgia

Report

This was to be Waveney Bird Club’s eighth foreign tour and undoubtedly our most adventurous yetvbearing in mind that we were charting unknown territory and visiting two former Soviet-bloc countries that no one in the party had been to before

2016 [10 October] - Joachim Bertrands - Armenia & Georgia

PDF Report

In total we saw 239 species, an astonishing number given the time of the year which made us miss a few ones like White - throated Robin, Pale Rock Finch and Bimaculated Lark. Most targets where seen however, and we were rewarded with some bonuses. More info can be found further in this report! Hope it comes in handy.

2017 [06 June] - Paul Harmes & Hasmik Ter Voskanyan

PDF Report

...We made a second stop as we ascended into the foothills , where a 30 - minute p ause in an area of mountain steppe produced views of White - throated Robin , Ring Ouzel, Common Whitethroat and Red - backed Shrike...

Museums

American University of Armenia - Acopian Center for the Environment

Webpage

The Environmental Conservation and Research Center (ECRC) was established in 1992 to work towards fulfilling AUAs mission to promote sustainable development in Armenia. The Center is generously endowed by Mr. Sarkis Acopian, and in 1997 the Sarkis Acopian Chair in Environmental Conservation was established.

Other Links

Birding Armenia

Website

Armenia has an extraordinary 349 species of birds. By comparison, the whole of Europe has 550 species and the entire landmass of the former Soviet Union has 750. Of the 29 orders and 187 families of birds worldwide, Armenia is home to 18 orders and 58 families…

Birding the Limits of the Western Palearctic - Armenia

Website

The former Soviet Republic of Armenia lies at the southeastern corner of the Western Palearctic, between Turkey and the Caucasus Mountains. It is mountainous throughout, Topping 4,000m at Mount Aragats and drop- ping to 600m in the Arax Valley by the Iranian border, Armenia`s western landscape is over- shadowed and dominated by the biblical Mount Ararat in Turkey. Its avifauna is amazingly unspoiled and rich in diversity, due to the mainly traditional farming methods still employed and the large areas of semi-natural habitat remaining.

Birds in Armenia

Website

Photos

Checklist to Birds of Armenia

Checklists

Protecting birds in Armenia

Article

Founded in 2002 by experienced and dedicated conservationists, the Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds (ASPB) has grown over the past decade and has developed into a leading bird conservation organization in Armenia. As affiliate of Birdlife International, ASPB is involved in research and conservation projects, education and awareness raising programs.