Birdwatching: The Caucasian Five

Straddling Europe and Asia, the Caucasus region stands like an island at the joining of two seas, and is home to extraordinary natural diversity. Here, you'll encounter a wide variety of environments and inhabitants, including birds, animals, and plants. In the southern Caucasus lies Georgia, home to myriad different species that make this country’s nature so unique. In general, species characteristic of both Europe and Asia coexist in the Caucasus, and particularly in Georgia.

The Caucasian Five

About 255 different species of bird nest in Georgia. Indeed, a true naturalist would be delighted to see every one of them, but of particular note are five species known as the "Caucasian Five": the Caucasian snowcock, the Caucasian grouse, the Caucasian chiffchaff, the rosefinch, and the white-winged redstart. The first three of the birds live exclusively in the Caucasus region.

Birdwatching Season and Location

For a birdwatching experience that will take your breath away, look no further than the peaks of Stepantsminda. Infrastructurally well-developed, easily accessible, with an extensive ornithological research background, this town and its surrounds are regarded as primary locations for birdwatching in Georgia. Invasive hippophae groves are widespread in Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) municipality, and during the winter, white-winged redstart and rosefinch feed on their fruit. These vibrant birds can frequently be seen perched on shrubs.

Birdwatching in Stepantsminda is a unique experience, and you should plan your trip here well in advance and in great detail to ensure you witness the Caucasian Five with your own eyes.

Spoiler alert: spotting the Caucasian Five is not easy, but very much possible in late April or early May. At this time, the Caucasian chiffchaff has returned from its wintering grounds, and the rosefinch and white-winged redstart have not yet migrated to the highlands, where they nest at an altitude of 3,000 meters. Meanwhile, the Caucasian snowcock and Caucasian grouse are easily visible through a telescope or binoculars as they fly lower than usual during mating season. 

Make travel arrangements in advance to ensure that you have at least three mornings in Stepantsminda, and keep in mind that the best time of day to watch the birds is in the morning.

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