Water birds monitoring on Lake Baikal

Water birds monitoring on Lake Baikal

2018 – 2020

For 20 years there has been a problem of prolonged water shortage on Baikal, resulting to a significant decrease of water level in the lake and its tributaries. Water birds, living on Baikal, experience difficulties with finding the nesting sites and food. What is more, every year the situation is getting worse, jeopardizing the existence of different kinds of birds. Through conduction of the corresponding studies, the Lake Baikal Foundation decreases the risk of extinction of water reservoir’s habitants. 

The Foundation’s project on water birds monitoring on lake Baikal in the situation of long-lasting low-water period is aimed to investigate the breeding settlements and welfare of the seabirds of Baikal, identify the relationship between the lake’s problem and the changes of birds’ population. 

The investigations were conducted with the financial assistance of Lake Baikal Foundation as a part of the «Baikal Initiative» grant competition for young scientists. The head of the project was Alexander Povarintsev, research associate of the ISAU named after Ezhevsky, senior lecturer of the Applied Ecology and Tourism Department.

In 2020 it is planned to continue the research as a part of international programme ICARUS (monitoring animal migration and tracking the migratory patterns using satellite imagery)


Prolong the research on the present state of water birds in areas of their mass inhabitation in the south of Lake Baikal and to use possibilities of the recently starting international programme ICARUS for researching bird migrations with the modern methods. 


  • To provide grant assistance to ISAU named after Ezhevskyfor implementing the corresponding project. 
  • As a part of assistance to conduct the following works in 2018-2020:
  1. To finalize the comparison between the present population’s situation of colonial birds in the southern Baikal and their status in the low-water period in early 1980s and high-water periods in 1980s and 1990s.
  2.  Process the obtained data and propose the forecasts for the further development of the situation. 
  3. Study spatial relations of the local population, including the usage of modern hi-tech methods. 

What was done:

  • The Foundation’s grant in 2019 amounted 210 000 rubles.  
  • The total budget amounted 720 000 rubles. 

Results in 2018: 

  1. From 7 to 19 June, a scientific expedition of monitoring for water birds was held in the southern part of Lake Baikal in the situation of long-lasting low-water period.
  1. During the expedition, scientists found 24 breeding settlements of water birds (grebes, copepods, ciconiiformes, seagulls) with a total of about 15,600 individuals.
  2. In the course of the research, scientists obtained data on the number and distribution of 5 species of birds in the delta included in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation – the Black Stork, the White-tailed Eagle, the Peregrine Falcone, the Caspian tern, the Spoonbill.

Scientists have determined that the population of Caspian tern remains at the same level. The colony, located in the Kabansky reserve, according to the records, contained 905 individuals. Four pairs of eagles were also found on the territory of the reserve, three of them had breeding success: 1 to 3 young birds were sitting in the nests. Another nest with one young bird was found outside the reserve.

In addition, during the research, 13 species of birds from the Republic of Buryatia Red Book were encountered, among them: red-necked grabe, Eurasian bittern, falcated duck, spotbill duck, spotted eagle, crested honey buzzard, Japanese quail, Swinhoe’s snipe, gray crane, Chinese scrub warbler, bearded reedling, azure tit, yellow-breasted bunting.

Results in 2019:

  1. A field research on the census of colonial and rare birds in the Selenga River delta was carried out on 3-12 June and 4-6 October 2019, within the agreement on the scientific cooperation with Baikal’ski State Nature Reserve.
  2. 39 colonies of water birds were found (including Podicipediformes, Pelecaniformes, Ciconiiformes, and Laridae) and 5.4 thousands nests of Great Cormorant and 3180 breeding individuals of other colonial birds were counted. 
  3. It was identified that in autumn the population of water birds in 2019 was twice less than in 2018. The possible reasons of the birds’ population reduction – summer draught and the fires on the North region. 
  4. The population growth of Great Cormorant in Selenga River delta in 2019 was not detected. The appearance of the bird in the southern part of Baikal has not been recorded.  
  • In June-July 2019 the scientific research was carried out on the territory of Maloye More Strait, the delta of the Goloustnaya River, the rocks of the western coast from the Goloustnaya river to the Babushka Bay, and the island of Baklaniy Kamen were explored. During the investigation the scientists found and described the nests of Great Cormorants, Grey Heron Ardea cinereal and silver gull. During the feeding period (July 2019) material of the nutrition was collected from the Mogolian Gull and Great Cormorant chicks.


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Ученые: на Байкале подтверждено обитание 5 видов птиц, занесенных в Красную книгу России, Восток Телеинформ, 02.07.18Ученые подтвердили обитание пяти краснокнижных птиц на берегах Байкала

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Баклан закончился? Твой Иркутск, 18.06.2019

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