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Birding in Siberia

Birding enthusiasts looking for a challenge and the opportunity to spot some rarely sighted feathered treasures may want to consider a trip to Siberia, where vast evergreen forests, spectacular lakes and wetlands, along with the Siberian taiga provide habitats for a wide variety of birds, some of which are permanent residents, with others being migratory. Endangered and vulnerable birds found in Siberia include the Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides), Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus), Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis), Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri), Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii), Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), and Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga). The Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus) and Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarious) are considered to be critically endangered, bordering on extinction.

The Siberian Crane, also known as the Snow Cane or Siberian White Crane, is almost completely white in color, apart from black primary feathers which are only visible when the bird is in flight. Siberian Cranes migrate either to China or Iran for the winter months, making the longest migration journey of all the crane species. Due primarily to habitat destruction and hunting, Siberian Crane populations have declined dramatically and they are listed by the IUCN as "critically endangered". Although very territorial in nature, Siberian Cranes may form small flocks as they feed throughout the day, sometimes submerging their heads entirely in their quest for underwater vegetation. They appear to prefer vegetation but are known to eat small rodents, fish and earthworms and swallow grit to assist them in crushing their food. The female generally lays two eggs which she will incubate as the male stands guard. It is common for one of the fledglings to kill the other, making it difficult to increase the population in the wild.

The Sociable Lapwing, also known as the Sociable Plover, breeds in open grasslands in Siberia, with three to five eggs being laid in a nest on the ground. As the name suggests, these waders are very sociable birds and will often join flocks of Northern Lapwings where they feed on insects in grasslands or cultivated fields. Although it has been acknowledged that populations of the Sociable Lapwing have declined, it has been difficult to pinpoint why this is the case, other than habitat degradation. Certainly, birding enthusiasts exploring Siberia will want to add the Sociable Lapwing to their list of birds to look out for.


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