With one foot on Europe and the other on Asia, Istanbul is exactly on the crossroads of bird migratory routes. It is squeezed not only between two continents, but also two climate systems, the European and Mediterranean climate. The northern shores are fringed with humid forests, whereas the southern shores are drier. The sea shore and lagoons provide excellent birding opportunities.

A – Hills along the Bosphorus

The narrow sea strait between Europe and Asia pushes all bird migration happen over this narrow corridor. 5 months a year, bird migration can be enjoyed. White Stork, Black Stork, Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk can be seen in highest numbers. A good day in April or September can yield over 10.000 birds a day!

B – Belgrade Forest

An early morning visit to this mature beack/oak forest yields a good collection of forest birds, including Marsh Tit, Hawfinch and Short-toed Treecreeper. Semi-collared Flycatcher regularly breeds in selected sectors of the forest. Grey-headed, Grey, Great-spotted, Middle, Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers can be regularly seen.

Black Sea Coast

This is the place to look for divers, waterfowl, gulls and terns. Spring and autumn provide exiting times to see the migration of birds along the shore.

C – Lake Terkos

The wooded shores of the lake gives a good feeling to be out in nature. Spring and summer visit yield bee-eaters, orioles and warblers. The reedbeds are home to Purple, Little and Squacco Herons and Pygmy Cormorants. The pristine habitats near the lake is home to Short-toed (Snake), Greater Spotted and Booted eagles.

D – Lake Büyükçekmece

This lake is probably the ‘hottest’ birding spot in the whole city. The lagoons south of the lake hold Mediterranean, Little, Yellow-legged and Slender-billed gulls, waders and herons whole year around. In cold winters waterfowl is abundant and include Red-breasted Goose, Whooper Swan, Red-crested Pochard and White-headed Duck. In summer Black-headed Bunting and Calandra Larks can been seen in the fields north of the lake.

List of Interesting Species:

  • Yelkouan Shearwater    Puffinus yelkouan
  • Pygmy Cormorant    Phalacrocorax pygmeus
  • Great White Pelican    Pelecanus onocrotalus
  • Red-breasted Goose    Branta ruficollis
  • Ruddy Shelduck    Tadorna ferruginea
  • Levant Sparrowhawk    Accipiter brevipes
  • Steppe Eagle    Aquila nipalensis
  • Chukar    Alectoris chukar
  • Great Black-headed Gull    Larus ichthyaetus
  • Laughing Dove    Stigmatopelia senegalensis
  • Syrian Woodpecker    Dendrocopos syriacus
  • Olivaceous Warbler    Hippolais pallida
  • Isabelline Wheatear    Oenanthe isabellina
  • Semicollared Flycatcher    Ficedula semitorquata
  • Masked Shrike    Lanius nubicus
  • Rosy (Rose-coloured) Starling    Sturnus roseus
  • Black-headed Bunting    Emberiza melanocephala