Birding in Romania

Birding in Romania is a unique and rewarding experience for nature enthusiasts. With an active birding community and a diverse range of bird species, Romania is home to around 370 different types of birds, including some that are rare and endangered. Some that are worthy of note include Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliacal), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), Great Bustard (Otis tarda) and Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula).

Romania is on important migration routes from south to north in spring and the reverse in winter. Birds migrate from other parts of Europe and the Mediterranean and from as far afield as Siberia, Mongolia, China and the Arctic. 

Whiskered Tern
Whiskered Tern – Chlidonias hybrida Andrei Prodan

The country is home to several important birdwatching sites, which offer the perfect opportunity to see and photograph a variety of different species in their natural habitats.

One of the best places to go birdwatching in Romania is the Danube Delta, located in the eastern part of the country. The Danube is the second largest river in Europe and its Delta is home to over 260 species of birds, making it one of the most important birdwatching destinations in Europe. The Danube Delta has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991 and is considered to be one of the most important wetlands in the world, in terms of biodiversity third only to the Galapagos Islands and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It is the only delta in the world that has been entirely declared a Natural Reserve.

The Birds of the Danube Delta

The Danube Delta is home to a large population of Pygmy Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) and the biggest colony of Great White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) outside Africa.

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The Delta is also home to several species of birds of prey, including the vulnerable White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Short-toed Snake-eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Eurasian Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo),Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and Eurasian Hobby (Falco Subbuteo).

Pygmy cormorant
Pygmy Cormorant – Phalacrocorax pygmeus Andrei Prodan

Other species that can be found in the Delta during migration include the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus). There are also many different species of waders and shorebirds, for example Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius), Dunlin (Calidris alpina), Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii), Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) and Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)

During the summer, the Danube Delta is inhabited by a wide range of bird species including Purple Herons (Ardea purpurea), Dalmatian Pelicans (Pelecanus crispus), Rollers (Coracias garrulus), Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster), Hoopoes (Upupa epops), Pallas’s Gulls (Larus ichthyaetus) and many more.

During winter, on the Black Sea coast, you can find Smew (Mergellus albellus), European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis), Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) and, on Dobrogea‘s Fields, Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus), Great White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons), Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus) and endangered Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis)

Although in the past few years numbers of Common crane (Grus grus) have been diminishing in the Danube Delta and it can usually only be found during winter migration on the west side of the country, but Romania as a whole has became a favourite place for Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus). During the year a lot of Greater Flamingos migrate across the country and a few have clearly preferred to remain. It is still not known if they are breeding in Romania, but they behave like sedentary birds.

Birding in Other Parts of Romania

Another great place for birdwatching in Romania is the entire Dobrogea area which consists of Babadag Forest, the Razelm-Sinoe lagoon area, Vadu, Techirghiol Lake, the Dobrogea plateau and the Black Sea coast. This part of the country offers a lot of birds of prey, warblers, woodpeckers, owls, gulls, etc.

In addition to the renowned birdwatching destinations of the Danube Delta and Dobrogea, Romania boasts a variety of other important sites for birding enthusiasts. One such site is the Neajlov Delta or Comana Area, located in the southern part of the country. This area is considered the second most biodiverse location in Romania after the Danube Delta. 

White-tailed eagle
White-tailed Eagle – Haliaeetus albicilla Andrei Prodan

Another lesser-known birdwatching spot can be found in the heart of Romania’s capital city, Bucharest. The Văcărești Delta, a hidden gem within the urban landscape, serves as real proof of what happens when humans do not intervene in nature. 

Dumbrăvița Lake in Brașov County, located in the central region of the country, is another noteworthy destination. The lake is host to a diverse range of bird species including the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), herons, egrets, birds of prey, shorebirds and different species of ducks. 

Other choice birdwatching locations include the banks of the Olt, Mureș, Prut and Siret rivers, the “Cazanele Dunării” area with “Moldova Veche” island, and the “Balta mică” Natural Park of Brăila county. 

Why Go Birdwatching in Romania?

For those new to birdwatching, Romania offers a variety of guided tours and birdwatching trips led by experienced guides who can help you find the best spots to see some top species and teach you how to identify them. These tours, available in multiple languages, can be tailored to suit your specific interests and needs.

Purple heron
Purple Heron – Ardea purpureaAndrei Prodan

For the experienced birders Romania offers the delights of the Danube Delta, Dobrogea area and other sites in the country with perfect opportunities to see and photograph rare and exciting avian beauties in their natural habitats.

In conclusion, Romania is an ideal destination for birding, offering a wide range of bird species and important birdwatching sites. Whether you are an experienced birder or just starting out, Romania is a destination not to be missed. 

Please find below some helpful checklists that you will need during your birdwatching holiday in Romania.

Birds of the Danube Delta – beginners’ checklist 

Birds of the Danube Delta Complete Checklist 

Birds of Romania Checklist 

Andrei Prodan

Mahmudia, Danube Delta, Romania – January 2023

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