Mongolia has an incredible number of native bird species occupying its diverse ecosystems. Types of birds include resident birds, which are breeding birds that stay all year round, migrant birds, and wintering birds who escape the cold weather in the north. Mongolia is a breathtakingly beautiful country with its pristine landscapes, grasslands, mountains, alpine forests and deserts. Even though the country seems like a vacant desert, there is a wide distribution of flora and fauna in the 10% forest cover.
The native birds of Mongolia
The Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus), also known as Slavonian grebe is a native waterbird of Mongolia. Its name is derived from the distinctive golden-yellow patches of feathers behind the eyes, which look like short horns. The horned grebe has a straight stubby bill and a flat-topped head, especially on the rear side. The ‘horns’ are only on display during the breeding season and can either be lowered or erected during the breeding season. This species is also widespread in Europe, Asia, and North America.
Caucasian Great Rosefinch
The Caucasian Great Rosefinch (Carpodacus rubicilla) is native to Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, China, Georgia, and Afghanistan. This bird can be found in natural habitats of temperate grasslands and tundra landscapes. The rosefinch’s habitat is the alpine and subalpine areas with sparse vegetation. Rosefinches mainly feed on seeds, shoots, buds and flowers of the small alpine plants and occasionally on small insects and berries. The breeding season begins in late May and extends to August. The Carpodacus rubicilla is a resident bird and altitudinal migrant during the non-breeding seasons where it moves for short distances.
The Hoopoe (Upupa epops) has a huge range and can be found in Europe, Africa, and Asia. This bird is named after its vocalization as it produces a ‘hoop hoop hoop’ sound. It has a pinkish-brown plumage with alternating black and white bars. This makes it conspicuous and easily recognizable. The hoopoe feeds on small invertebrates and can be found looking for food in short grass and bare soil. Currently, the conservation status of the hoopoe is of least concern.
The Barn swallow has a cobalt blue color on the top side and tawny color on the underside. The barn swallow flies low near the ground or water surface while searching for flying insect for food. They build their cup-shaped mud nests from exclusively human-made structures. You can find them in open habitats from parks, fields, ponds, meadows, roadway edges, marshes, and coastal waters.
The Lesser Sand plover (Charadrius mongolus) is a wading shorebird with greyish-brown upperparts, black forehead, and white abdomen. The diet of the sand plover includes crustaceans, insects, molluscs, and worms. The sand plover has also been observed eating seeds. The range of the sand plover includes Southern Mongolia, Siberia, the Himalayas and western China. It is a migratory species, spending parts of winter in eastern and southern Africa, the Arab peninsula, India and the middle East. On rare occasions, it may spend winter in Europe. During the breeding season, it inhabits tundra, steppe, and deserts, where it nests on the bare ground.
Other native birds of Mongolia include the Eurasian Treecreeper, Black-Capped Kingfisher, Azure Tit, Greater Painted Snipe and the Ortolan Bunting.