Migratory Birds of Turkey

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As a stopover or breeding point for several bird species migrating between Africa-Europe and Africa-Asia, Turkey is the gateway for both wintering and summering birds. In this article I have prepared for you, you can find the main migratory bird species whose routes pass through Turkey.


Storks spend the spring and summer months in Europe and Scandinavian countries, and the winter months in Africa and the Far East. They arrive in Turkey in March from Africa and migrate from Hatay city which is on the southeast Anatolia, then migrate in flocks to Europe and the Balkans via Istanbul and Thrace. The reason storks do not move away from land while migrating is that the warm air thermals they need to fly without flapping their wings for a long time do not occur over the sea. Storks and their massive nests can be seen around Ephesus Ancient City.


Although the smallest vulture species in Turkey and Europe, the small Turkish vulture is endangered, its largest habitat in Europe is Anatolia. Ankara’s Beypazarı and Kirmir Valley are the most important breeding and feeding areas for this bird. After spending the winter in Africa, small vultures travel thousands of kilometers from European countries to Turkey in March to breed. Breeding in these regions where they spend the spring and summer, the vultures go back to Africa at the end of September with their growing young. This monogamous species migrates in pairs during the spring months, the breeding period, and builds their nests in high places they find suitable.

Little Turkish Vulture – Migratory Birds of Turkey


A migratory bird with long legs and a long neck, the crane has fluffy feathers and a fancy appearance. The habitat of this beautiful bird, which is also the subject of our folk songs and fairy tales, is reeds. Cranes migrate from the north to the south of the Black Sea from July to October to spend the winter months, and from south to north in spring and summer. Cranes migrate in groups of up to 400 individual birds in number and flutter back to the northern regions in March to breed.

The main migration route of the cranes, which reside in wet meadows around rivers and lakes during the breeding season, starts from Crimea and continues towards the Central Black Sea. From there, some cranes fly over Central Anatolia to the eastern Mediterranean coast and reach the Egyptian coast by flying over the Mediterranean and Cyprus, while other groups descend to Israel through Adana and Hatay plains, and from there to Africa.

Cranes in Ephesus Swamp Reeds – Migratory Birds of Turkey


White pelicans, a very large species of the pelican family, migrate from Africa to Europe every year in spring. After spending the winter months in Africa, which has a warm climate, white pelicans enter Turkey through Hatay and Adana provinces on the south and continue to flap their wings in the western region of Turkey passing over my hometown of Ephesus, Kuşadasi, Izmir reaching the Danube River Delta in Romania via this route. Every year, more than 30 thousand white pelicans stop in crowded groups in various parts of Western Turkey. This species adapts well to aquatic life, and its short and strong legs and webbed feet allow it to take off from the water.

Pelican In Izmir (Smyrna) Bay – Migratory Birds of Turkey


A bird of prey with narrow and long wings, a small head and a long tail, the hawk lives mainly in forests with wetlands. Like many other migratory birds, the hawk migrates from many parts of Europe, where it spends the summer months, to tropical climates in Asia and Africa for the winter. The main habitat of the species, which can be seen in Scandinavia, Russia, and many parts of Europe, extends from the Caspian Sea to Thailand. Its migration route in Turkey includes almost all cities with forested areas in our country including Izmir, Istanbul, and Ankara. It is possible to see hawks migrating in the skies of our Anatolia between April and October.

Turkish Hawk – Migratory Birds of Turkey

Forest Eagle

The forest eagle, a medium-sized eagle, is a species found in northern Iran, Turkey and Eastern Europe. While Central and Eastern Europe is its breeding area, it migrates to Central and South Africa to spend the winter. In spring, it frequently passes through Turkey, especially the Bosphorus. This species makes long flights using thermal currents and its habitat and migration routes are wider than other migratory birds, as its diet consists of small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, some insects, and birds that it can hunt.

Turkish Forest Eagle – Migratory Birds of Turkey *

Hire A Licensed Tour Guide In Turkey

Turkey possesses many treasures which are waiting for your discovery. Ancient cities and amazing history of Turkey and also animals of Turkey such as Migratory Birds of Turkey are waiting for you. Contact me to learn more on Migratory Birds of Turkey and also to hire a private tour guide in Turkey. See you soon, Hasan Gülday!

Hasan Gülday

Hasan Gülday. Professional licensed tour guide working in Turkey.

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