Poland Birding Tours

The Republic of Poland (“Poland” hereafter) is a large country, the same size as the US state of New Mexico, in central Eastern Europe with a population of 38.5 million people. Its northern coastline is the Baltic Sea but on all other sides it is landlocked, sharing its borders with Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia. Warsaw, the capital of Poland, sits just to the east of the center of the country and is home to around 3.1 million people.

Throughout history, Poland has been a prosperous country. The Kingdom of Poland was formed in 1025 and remained in place for the next 500 years. Poland’s growth and prosperity led to its joining with neighbors Lithuania to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569. This single nation became one of the largest and most populous nations in 16th and 17th century Europe, extending for 390,000 square miles (1,000,000 square kilometers) across the east of Europe. This did not last however, and from the 18th century onwards Poland became divided and conquered by many foreign powers including Prussia, Russia, Austria, and later Napoleon of France. In the 20th century Poland suffered greatly during both World War One and World War Two, perhaps more so than any other country in this period, and later from the Soviet Union. Poland joined the European Union in 2004.

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Poland’s geography varies greatly across the country. The north and west of the country are part of the Northern European plain and are generally low-lying areas with large river valleys and marshes. A vast area of lakes in the northeast of the country leads into immense forests which cover the area around the border with Belarus, including the world famous Białowieża National Park. The south of the country is mostly mountainous with the Tatra Mountains (part of the Carpathian range) being the highest point. These mountains run along Poland’s border with Slovakia and are considered some of the most beautiful mountains in Europe. The summit of Rysy at 8,199 feet (2,499 meters) is Poland’s highest point. The climate of Poland is mostly temperate with warm to hot summers in lowland areas and very cold winters across the country.

Poland is one of the best countries for birding in Europe and it is one of our favorite destinations. Following International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy (v10.2 in December 2020) the bird list of Poland stands at 471 species, with 28 of these being globally threatened. Some of the most important species for foreign birdwatchers include Great Snipe and Aquatic Warbler – Poland is the best place in the world to see these rare birds, and Wallcreeper, a sought-after monotypic family, also breeds in the high mountains. Furthermore, Poland is one of the best countries to see the majority of European Woodpeckers. Poland has 175 Important Bird Areas (IBAs), sites identified by BirdLife International as having high value to birds. Our birdwatching holiday in Poland will take in some of these fantastic, bird rich areas, including Białowieża (Bialowieza) ForestBiebrza River ValleySiemianwóka ReservoirRoztocze, and the Tatra Mountains (Tatrzański National Park).

We have two fantastic Poland birdwatching tours timed to provide optimum birding experiences in the country, each outlined below. We can also easily organize custom bird holidays here, so do get in touch.

Poland: Best of Eastern Europe

Our spring Poland tour features many great species, some highlights of this trip are summarized below. The excellent habitats of the Biebrza marshes and surrounding area hold Ferruginous DuckEuropean Turtle DoveCorn CrakeLittle CrakeCommon CraneBroad-billed SandpiperTemminck’s StintGreat SnipeWhiskered TernWhite-winged TernBlack StorkWhite Stork, and Little Bittern. Breeding passerines are also well represented here, and we will look for Great Reed WarblerAquatic WarblerMarsh WarblerIcterine WarblerRiver WarblerSavi’s WarblerBarred WarblerEurasian Penduline TitBluethroatCitrine WagtailCommon Rosefinch, and Ortolan Bunting. These marshes are also home to Eurasian BeaverMoose (Elk), and Wild Boar.

In the forests and surrounding grasslands of western Poland we will search for Hazel Grouse, ten of Europe’s eleven woodpecker species, including Black WoodpeckerSyrian WoodpeckerEurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, and White-backed Woodpecker, as well as other interesting species such as Red-backed ShrikeEurasian Golden OrioleSpotted NutcrackerThrush NightingaleRed-breasted Flycatcher, and Collared Flycatcher. With luck, we may also have sightings of European BisonGrey WolfEurasian Lynx, and Wild Boar.

Birds of prey in the above forest and open habitats include Short-toed Snake EagleLesser Spotted EagleGreater Spotted Eagle, Northern GoshawkMontagu’s HarrierWhite-tailed Eagle (Poland’s national bird), Red-footed Falcon, and Eurasian Hobby. We will also search suitable habitat for owl species such as Ural OwlEurasian Pygmy Owl, and Short-eared Owl.

Finally, in the Carpathian Mountains we will hope to come across a totally different suite of birds including WallcreeperEuropean Honey BuzzardGolden EagleCommon FirecrestRing OuzelWhite-throated DipperAlpine AccentorWater PipitHawfinch, and many more species. These mountains are also home to some of Europe’s iconic mammals and herptiles (reptiles and amphibians). While nothing is guaranteed, with luck, we may come across European BisonGrey Wolf, (European) Brown BearEurasian LynxEuropean Wild CatNorthern ChamoisSpeckled Ground SquirrelFire Salamander, and Aesculapian Ratsnake (Europe’s largest snake).

Poland: Birding the Baltic Coast and East in Fall

Our fall tour of Poland will see us enjoy the best the east of the country has to offer. Here we will explore the ancient forests and marshlands that are home to fascinating birds. We then move up to the Baltic Sea coast. This will see us come face to face with migration at its best, as vast numbers of seabirds, wildfowl, and shorebirds (waders) move through the area. On land, the bushes and trees will be teeming with migrant passerines and other exciting species.

Key species for this tour include Hazel GrouseSpotted Nutcracker, six woodpecker species including Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker and White-backed WoodpeckerCommon Crane, waterbirds including Common PochardSmewVelvet ScoterTundra Bean GooseBlack-throated Loon (Diver), and Horned (Slavonian) Grebe, shorebirds like Spotted RedshankPurple Sandpiper, and Jack Snipe, birds of prey ranging from the massive White-tailed Eagle to the rare Greater Spotted Eagle, owls including Eurasian Eagle-Owl and Eurasian Pygmy Owl, plus a range of passerines including European Crested TitGreat Grey ShrikeWillow TitBramblingTwiteBohemian Waxwing, and rarities like Red-throated PipitYellow-browed Warbler, and Pallas’s Leaf Warbler.

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Poland: Best of Eastern Europe April 2023

Poland: Birding the Baltic Coast & East in Fall October 2023

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