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Bialowieza Forest - BirdForum Opus

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Famous as the last home of the endangered European Bison, this forest is the largest of the few remnants of the original forest which once covered much of Europe. Of the nearly 600sq km of Bialowieza Forest, almost 50km2is protected as a national park.

As well as the forest, made up mainly of Oak, Lime Alder and Pine, there are open clearings, park-like areas and wet marshes, the variety of habitats enabling a very wide range of birds to breed. 250 species have been recorded and more than 170 have been known to breed.


Notable Species

Breeding birds include both storks and Common Crane, various owls and eight species of woodpecker. Great Grey Owl has been reported most recent years from the Bialowieza Forest and raptors such as Greater Spotted Eagle and Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and Booted Eagle are more regular but can be elusive.

Hazel Grouse is common but Black Grouse is now very rare and Western Capercaillie may now be extinct in the Polish part of the forest. Smaller woodland birds are abundant and much easier to find and include eastern specialities such as Collared Flycatcher and Red-breasted Flycatcher, River Warbler and Thrush Nightingale.


Birds you can see here include:

Grey Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Western Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, White-tailed Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Common Kestrel, Northern Hobby, Hazel Grouse, Black Grouse, Western Capercaillie, Common Quail, Spotted Crake, Little Crake, Corn Crake, Common Crane, Common Snipe, Eurasian Woodcock, Green Sandpiper, Stock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Eurasian Pygmy Owl, Great Grey Owl, Tawny Owl, Tengmalm's Owl, European Nightjar, Common Swift, Common Kingfisher, European Roller, Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Wryneck, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Wood Lark, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Tree Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Common Wren, Dunnock, Eurasian Robin, Thrush Nightingale, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush, Eurasian River Warbler, Savi's Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Barred Warbler, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Greenish Warbler, Wood Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Common Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Collared Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Willow Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Penduline Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Common Jay, Spotted Nutcracker, Common Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Rook, Northern Raven, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Rosefinch, Hawfinch, Ortolan Bunting, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting

Other Wildlife

As well as the European Bison the forest is home to a wide range of other mammals including European Elk and Red Deer, Beaver, Wild Boar, and carnivores such as Grey Wolf, Lynx, Pine Marten and the Raccoon Dog, introduced from the Asian Far East.

Site Information

Although known to be present some forest species are notoriously difficult to locate and perhaps the best way to see some of the special birds of the area is to contact local ornithologists.

History and Use

To do

Areas of Interest

Most visitors tend to stay in the Hotel Iwa in the grounds of the Palace Park or Park Palacowy on the edge of Bialowieza village. Here many of the smaller birds of the area can be found, Hawfinch, Common Rosefinch and European Serin are common and a variety of warblers including Marsh Warbler, Great Reed Warbler and River Warbler breed around the ponds.

Alternatively there are several campsites in the area, notably at Grodek south-east of Bialowieza.

Siemianowka Reservoir lies just north of Bialowieza and can add many more species to a trip list at any time of year. It can easily reached by road via Hajnowka or by track via Janowo and Narewka.

Access and Facilities

The forest is easily reached by road or rail from Warsaw to Bialystok, and from there take Route 19 towards Lublin, turning off at Zabludow on Route 685 to Hajnowka and then Route 689 to Bialowieza.

The area of the forest under National Park status which lies immediately north of the village cannot be entered except when accompanied by an official guide. This can be arranged in the village and for some of the more elusive species this may be the only way to guarantee finding them. However, the majority of birds can be seen in the accessible parts of the forest which has numerous paths and tracks, a map of which is available from the Hotel Iwa.

The forest around the village of Pogorzelce is good for many of the woodland passerines as well as White-backed Woodpecker and other woodpeckers, and may even produce a sighting of Bison. There is a boardwalk trail close to the village which leads the visitor through mature forest with the possibility of Hazel Grouse and Three-toed Woodpecker.

External Links

Content and images originally posted by Steve


valdi99's review Read the trip report at travellingbirder website


Happy birding! Pros

  • Excellent habitats
  • the last one european primeval forest


  • Vast space with very limited car access to the forest