Birding Factoids

336 species in 
North Korea
Nearly 400 species in 
South Korea

No endemic species
30 speciality species
28 endangered species 

Checklist of Korea BirdsTours and GuidesEco-LodgesSpeciality BirdsMap and General Information
Help to protect the World's Most Important Site for Baikal Teal (Anas formosa), and a wintering area for Oriental White Stork (Ciconia boyciana). 
Click here to help!

 Check out Dr. Cho's Photo Gallery of Korean Birds

Korean Specialities
Black-billed Magpie - Korean National Bird - Photo copyright Juhanni Kyyro
Photo copyright Juhanni Kyyro

Fairy Pitta - ENDANGERED - Photo copyright Birdlife International

Photo copyright Birdlife International

Ruddy Kingfisher - Photo copyright by Kim Hyun-Tae

Photo copyright Kim Hyun-Tae

Chinese (Swinhoe's) Egret - Photo copyright Karl Ng

Photo copyright Karl Ng

Chestnut-flanked White-eye - Photo copyright Kim Hyun-Tae

Photo copyright Kim Hyun-Tae

Tiger Shrike - Photo copyright Laurence Poh

Photo copyright Laurence Poh

Baikal Teal - ENDANGERED - Photo copyright Koji Tagi

Photo copyright Koji Tagi
    ....Birds Korea - this site is a "one-stop shop" for everyone interested in 
      Korean birds and Korean conservation - from local birders and overseas eco-tourists to the curious armchair birder, from members of the media to members of the scientific community. Site includes information on Wetlands/Key Sites, Key Korean Species, Latest 
      Bird News, Tours/Guiding, Birding in Korea, News, ID Notes and  Flagging/Banding.

    ....Birdwatching Sites in Korea - South Korea is one of the best 

      winter-birding and shorebird-watching destinations anywhere - and wetlands will probably be at the core of any birders' plans to visit here. The following sites have therefore been selected from the many potential ones worth a visit - in order to help you have the the best chance to see some of those species which are easier or better to see in South Korea than anywhere else in the world: Baikal Teal, Normann's Greenshank, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Saunders's Gull, Chinese Egret etc etc. In addition to the obviously world-class sites (Sawmangeum, Geum Estuary, Haenam, Suncheon Bay etc) several small sites have been especially included for those business-trip or casual birdwatchers (marked with a +) who are unable to make time to get out of the city.
    ....Birding Korea - This is an English language site with the mission 
      statement of "Working for the conservation of wetlands and birds in South Korea and the broader Yellow Sea eco-region, through research, education, planning and cooperation." Lots of interesting stuff for the birding traveller.
    ....Birdwatching Sites in Korea - This website provides detailed maps
      of the best birding sites in Korea, with brief information on the likely birds to be found at each site. The slow-loading home page is worth the wait!
    ....Discovering The Other Korea - The period from December
      to March is the peak season for winter bird watching in Korea. Hardy birders braving the cold weather tramp through desolate fields under a winter sky are rewarded with splendid group dances and superb flying by thousands of migratory birds. More than 100 species of birds migrate from Siberia and Northern Manchuria to winter in Korea, and over 100 more species pass through Korea on their way further south. Includes a list of recommended birding sites.
    ....Pintail's Home - this Korean high school teacher's web page contains
      a checklist of Korean birds, with photos.
    ....Wetlands - Korea's most-threatened habitat: by Nial Moores, 
      from OBC Bulletin 36, December 2002.  South Korea lacks endemic bird species, and is rather poor in terms of avian dry land diversity compared with other East Asian countries, but its wetlands and waterways are extremely important for the future conservation of migratory waterbird species, around 13 of which are globally threatened, and for the future well-being of the human population.
    ....Migrant Bird Watching at Youido Pam Islets - As winter advances,
      the influx of migrant birds is making the waterside of Youido Han Riverside Park the ideal place for bird-watching. The City of Seoul's Han River Management Office has put in place an ideal observation site where nature-lovers can appreciate the beauty of nature.
    ....Korean Wetlands - this site provides a map of Korea identifying
      all key welands locations. Where there are wetlands, there are birds. But, if you check out the Gallery on this site, you will find a depressing picture of the history and future of the wetlands!
    ....Trip Report: South Korea - Spring 2002. By Wilton Farrelly. 
      This was the first ‘organised’ birding trip to South Korea in spring. The purpose was to see shorebirds and to experience spring migration. The trip was a huge success with two firsts for Korea (Crag Martin and Ferruginous Flycatcher), excellent wader counts including sightings of Little Whimbrel and Asiatic Dowitcher. We also had Baikal Teal and Swan Geese on exceptionally late spring dates as well as excellent numbers of migrants and a supporting cast of many globally rare species e.g. Nordmanns Greenshank, Black Faced Spoonbill and Chinese Egret. The areas visited were primarily tidal flats at Saemangeum and around Gunsan and one day at Seosan. The rest of the time was spent on an island called Eocheong Do, 3 hrs by ferry from Gunsan on the west side of Korea. This island had only ever been birded once before (by Nial Moores) for two days about a week prior to our arrival! Indeed we were the first Westerners that most people on the island had ever seen.
    ....Trip Report: South Korea - December 6-17, 2001:The Sunbird Winter
      Tour - by Nial Moores. Although many winters can be really severe by December (with night temperatures down to –20C), December 2001 was extraordinarily mild, and our tour started with sunshine and temperatures soaring to a relatively balmy 8C most days (even reaching 14C on ‘sub-tropical’ Jeju on the 11th). The trip (food especially apart…river snail soup anyone?), was largely a great success, and we recorded about 160 species in just 12 days, including the much-wanted Black-faced Spoonbill, Swan and Lesser White-fronted Goose, Baikal Teal (with one flock of 265 000 plus an outstanding highlight!), Scaly-sided Merganser, Steller’s Sea Eagle, three species of Crane, Relict and Saunders’s Gulls, Japanese Waxwing, Siberian Accentor and Daurian Jackdaw. 
    ....Trip Report: Korea - Seoul, May 25 - 31, 1998 -
      by Eric Toorman. The expectations were not high for several reasons: the time of the year generally is very quiet (in the middle of the breeding season), most bird species in Korea are found there in winter. Fortunately, it turned out much better than anticipated. This web-page also contains some photos of typical Korean birds.
    ....Trip Report: Seoul. This trip report is provided courtesy of Urs
      Geiser's Trip Report Archive. South Korea, July 24-30, 1994 - by Urs Geiser. I arrived in Korea in the middle of a heat wave with highs of 95-103°F every day. Even though the summer rains had stopped early this year and there was a drought in East Asia, the air was still quite humid, making outdoor activities somewhat unpleasant. Still, I managed to find a few green spots in Seoul that had some birds, although not in large numbers nor variety. 
    ....Trip Report: Korea. This trip report is provided courtesy of Urs
      Geiser's Trip Report Archive. December 29, 1993 - January 6, 1994 - by Steven Feldstein. The purpose of our trip was to spend time visiting with her relatives, but I managed to squeeze in a few hours of birding on most days. This was my second trip to Korea, but that trip was during the summer. I was particularly excited about seeing winter birds, since many birds that winter in Korea are seen in places in North America such as Attu and St. Lawrence Island. 
    ....Trip Report: South Korea. This trip report is provided courtesy of Urs
      Kate Trainer. Includes information on Kyong-Ju, Hupo, and Sorak-San.

    Factoids taken from Where to watch birds in Asia  - by Nigel Wheatley

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Tours and Guides

...>> A Birding Pal is not a paid guide, but someone who likes to help out of town visitors. You can become a Birding Pal today! Help someone to enjoy your local birding spots and find a pal to help you when you travel. Click here for Korean Birding Pals, or join to be a Birding Pal!
Spoonbill Sandpiper - Photo copyright Ruud and Kitty Kampf
Photo copyright Ruud and Kitty Kampf
    .....WBK Tours - As well as organised group tours, WBKBirding 
      Korea offer fully guided personal tours based around your dates and the birds you want to see - subject to staff availability. We will of course arrange accomodation and car-hire, and generally do whatever we can to make your trip to Korea a memorable and successful one.


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Pygmy Woodpecker - Photo copyright Kim Hyun-Tae
Photo copyright Kim Hyun-Tae


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Endemics and Specialities

in Korea

Information on endemics and specialities is derived from Sibley & Monroe checklists and bird distribution lists in Thayer's Birder's Diary - Version 2.05, supplemented by material found in Where to watch birds in Asia  - by Nigel Wheatley. and with additional information from BirdArea from Santa Barbara Software. Asian speciality birds, while not endemic, are those that can only be found in three or less countries of Asia. Information on endangered birds is derived from the IUCN Red List, Birdlife International.  The endemic, endangered and speciality birds may be uncommon, extremely rare vagrants, may be extirpated in the country now or may only be present in migration. However, documented sightings of each species noted below have been made in Korea. 

Endemics in Korea
Endangered Birds in Korea
(endemics are printed in bold italic)

Breeding Birds

Non-Breeding Birds

___ Baer's Pochard
___ Black-faced Spoonbill
___ Chinese Egret
___ Crested Ibis
___ Crested Shelduck
___ Fairy Pitta
___ Great Bustard
___ Japanese Murrelet
___ Oriental Stork
___ Rufous-backed Bunting
___ Scaly-sided Merganser
___ Baikal Teal
___ Greater Spotted Eagle
___ Hooded Crane
___ Imperial Eagle
___ Japanese Night-Heron
___ Lesser White-fronted Goose
___ Marsh Grassbird
___ Noordman's Greenshank
___ Red-crowned Crane
___ Saunders's Gull
___ Short-tailed Albatross
___ Spoonbill Sandpiper
___ Stellar's Sea-Eagle
___ Swan Goose
___ Swinhoe's Rail
___ White-naped Crane
___ Yellow Bunting

Other Near-endemic and Speciality Birds in Korea
(adapted from Where to watch birds in Asia  - by Nigel Wheatley.)

___ Black-backed Wagtail
___ Black-tailed Gull
___ Bull-headed Shrike
___ Chinese Grey Shrike
___ Chinese Penduline-Tit
___ Grey-capped Greenfinch
___ Hazel Grouse
___ Japanese Cormorant
___ Japanese Grosbeak
___ Japanese Paradise-flycatcher
___ Japanese Wagtail
___ Japanese Waxwing
___ Japanese Wood-Pigeon
___ Long-billed Plover
___ Mandarin Duck
___ Ochre-rumped Bunting
___ Pallas's Bunting
___ Pygmy Woodpecker
___ Relict Gull
___ Ruddy Kingfisher
___ Rufous-backed Bunting
___ Siberian Accentor
___ Slaty-backed Gull
___ Snowy-browed Nuthatch
___ Spectacled Guillemot
___ Tristram's Bunting
___ Varied Tit
___ Vinous-throated Parrotbill
___ Yellow-billed Grosbeak
___ Yellow-throated Bunting

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