Text: Isabela Foustanou
Cover photo: Albert Stoecker
Located on one of the main bird migration routes across the Mediterranean, Cyprus is a major staging post used twice a year as birds move between Europe, Africa and Asia. The sheer numbers of birds stopping over on the island of Aphrodite during spring and autumn migration is impressive, as literally millions pass through the island. According to estimations, during their migration more than 150 million birds fly over Cyprus, whereas the total number of documented bird species found on the island surpasses a total of 400. Cyprus has been recognized by BirdLife International as an endemic location for birds of global importance since this is the only place on earth that you will find birds like “Skalifourta” or Cyprus Wheatear (Oenanthe cypriaca) and “Trypomazis” or Cyprus Warbler (Sylvia melanothorax) nesting.
Photography: Dave Nye
Pink flamingos, seagulls, ducks, herons, nightingales, hangbirds, ravens, chickadees and carrion buzzards are only a few of the millions of winged visitors that attract thousands of birdwatchers, ornithologists, photographers and nature lovers, who flock to the island in order to admire this impressive avian world. Therefore, Cyprus is the ideal destination for those who wish to combine their holidays with the noble hobby of watching birds in their natural habitat. Cyprus’ main migratory species can be spotted in all types of habitats: rocky shores, the peaks of Troodos mountain, rural areas, wetlands and brushwood. The optimal sighting period is either at the beginning of their migration – early February to late May, or from early August until October. Bird watching is one of the most popular activities worldwide and all you need to get started is a pair of binoculars, a good bird recognition guide, a camera and a thirst for freedom...
- Birds find their way by sensing the Earth’s magnetic fields and use the apparent position of the sun and stars to navigate...
- Birds understand that it is time to migrate by the change in daylight.
- Most birds fly at low altitudes, ranging between 150 and 600 metres.
- They prefer to migrate at night, to reduce the risk of being hunted and to avoid overheating because of the rise in their body temperature during long flights.
- During their journey they can cover between 10,000km to 20,000km of constant flight!
- During the course of their life, migratory birds will actually fly a distance equal to three times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, and back!
Cyprus: An important place for birds
- 20.000 flamingos land on the lakes of Cyprus during winter.
- 61 species are primarily Winter visitors.
- 400 and more species is the total recorded number of birds on the island
- 150.000.000 birds fly over Cyprus during their migration.