Species diversity and population density of birds on mountain forest plots near “Roza Khutor” ski complex

Results of monitoring in the second half of 2013

Avian composition and population density of nestling species

In 2013 a total of 24 avian species were recorded (table 1). These species include 2 Falconiformes, 1 Galliformes, 1 Caprimulgiformes, 32 Piciformes and 17 Passeriformes. The numerous species are represented by 3 species: blackbird, coal tit and chaffinch. There are 10 common species identified: nightjar, spotted and middle woodpeckers, black woodpecker, grey wagtail, blackcap, spotted flycatcher, song thrush, common and black-headed nuthatch. A total of 11 species are rare birds: sparrow hawk, common buzzard, hobby falcon, Caucasian grouse, white wagtail, jay, mistle-thrush, common treecreeper, gold-fronted finch, scarlet grosbeak, bullfinch and hawfinch.

The avian species diversity continues to be not very high, and the overall trend is its further reduction. Most of avian species belong to common or rare species. In spite of the changes in the ornithological diversity, this region continues to play an important role for alpine forest and alpine meadow avian species.

Продолжает оставаться не высоким видовое разнообразие птиц на объекте орнитологического мониторинга, имеющее тенденцию к дальнейшему сокращению. Большинство видов птиц относится к обычным или редким. Однако, несмотря на изменения в видовом разнообразии орнитокомплекса, этот район продолжает оставаться значимым для обитания горнолесных и горнолуговых видов птиц.

The total avian population density in the mountain forest is 169 individuals per square km (table 2), the predominant species being blackcap, blackbird and chaffinch.

Thus a change is observed in predominant avian species and the total population of birds on the monitored areas continue to decline, as compared to previous years.

Features of flyway

In 2013 an early onset of autumn migration were observed again, which was expressed by early arrival of quail, corncrake, wood-lark, wheatear, nightingale and other birds. One of the migration features this year was high abundance of corncrake which was not the case in the previous years. Birds were flying along the Mzymta valley and across some mountain ridges, in particular, across the Aibga crest. In August 2013 an active flyway of some predatory birds (common buzzard, honey buzzard, moor buzzard) and Passeriformes such as swallow and martin was observed (Table 3).

The territory near the monitored site continues playing a significant role for transit of migratory birds.

Status of rare birds populations

On the monitoring areas, rare and endangered species included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation and Red Book of Kransodar kray practically do not occur on a continuing basis. Nevertheless, some endangered birds can be encountered here, primarily during nomadic migration.

Booted eagle

couple was noted in the summer 2013 on the Aibga ridge.

Golden eagle

This bird is encountered less frequently more recently, which may be explained by lack of aggregations of wood-pigeons in the Mzymta valley, the primary food for eagles in winter in Prichernomorie. Lower occurrence of golden eagle may be associated with the increasing disturbance due to the construction activity. In 2013 a golden eagle was seen twice near the ornithological monitoring site on the Aibga crest.

Bearded vulture

Like golden eagle, this species is not as frequently seen as previously. Changes in the forest landscape (forest clearing and buildings in high mountain) seem to influence the way the birds use their traditional feeding areas and now bearded vultures stay away from these. Nevertheless, in 2013 bearded vulture was seen twice in summer time near the Aibga crest.

Griffon vulture

In the latest years in the Mzymta floodplain this bird was not observed, which is most likely due to the construction activity on the mountain forest landscape. Yet, in the summer 2013 the bird was periodically encountered on different parts of the Aibga. This is probably because the trophic conditions for griffon vultures are worsening on their nestling sites.


Continues to nestle in the immediate vicinity of the monitoring site. The status of the species population in 2013 is acceptable, the population is growing and frequency of occurrence is higher during migration period. In the summer 2013 peregrine was seen flying over the Aibga.

Caucasian grouse

The monitoring area is actually the southern border of the distribution area for this species. The population of Caucasian grouse is generally not high. In 2013 a grouse nestle was identified on the Aibga crest and birds were encountered several times in their typical habitat - on the upper border of forest vegetation, in rhododendron shrubs and on subalpine meadows.

Table 1.Species composition and abundance

Notation:     +++ - numerous species;     ++ - common species;     + - rare species

Table 2.Birds populations on the ornithological monitoring site

Table 3.Species composition of migratory birds on the ornithological monitoring area

Notation:     +++ - numerous species;     ++ - common species;     + - rare species

Results of monitoring in the first half of 2013

During the ornithological survey of the “Roza Khutor” ski complex in the first half of 2013 a total of 24 avian species were recorded. Of them, 2 species are Falconiformes, 1 is Cypseliformes, 1 is Cuculiforemes, 4 are Pciformes and 16 are Passeriformes.


Common during migrations. In the spring a single bird was noted on 04.04.2013 flying over the beech-hornbeam forest. Also, on 09.05.2013 another sparrow hawk was seen over a clearing in the woods.

Common buzzard

Common nestling non-migratory species. Can be encountered during migrations. The inspected buzzard nestling site was located on a steep slope with tall oak trees in the immediate vicinity of settlements, gardens and clearings.


Rare nestling species. Nestling sites are presumed to be in tall den trees. There are no swift nestling stations in settlements because no multi-story buildings are available there.


Rare nestling species. First occurrence was recorded on 18.04.2013. Later the birds were seen periodically, their vocal activity however was limited. By 09.05.2013 the birds’ activity was growing. On 23.05.2013 a male cuckoo performing a mating ritual was recorded, however later they were not visible.

Green woodpecker

Common nestling non-migratory species. From the end of February on the permanent observation station near the wood clearing surrounded by mixed forest (beech-hornbeam, oak) birds were noted routinely showing sometimes vocal activity. Starting from 10.03.2013 the activity of woodpeckers began growing. In this area woodpeckers’ voices were recorded regularly. Later on 17 и 20.03 the birds activity began declining, but on 21.03.2013 the activity went up again. In the early April, the birds’ voices were recorded rarely. Their activity began growing only by the mid summer.

Black woodpecker

Rare nestling non-migratory species. Birds were recorded several times by voice – 01.05 and 02.05.

Spotted woodpecker

Common nestling non-migratory species. In winter and early spring (February-April) this bird was recorded in beech, hornbeam and alder forest. In May it occurs most frequently where alder trees grow. On 02.05.a woodpecker female was tapping in the alder forest.

Middle spotted woodpecker

Rare nestling non-migratory species. One of the woodpecker nestling grounds was detected on the plot with tall oaks by the wood clearing. A male performing a mating ritual was recorded on this clearing on 08.03, which was repeated till 11.04. birds were recorded again in this area in the mid summer (in spite of regular monitoring). Woodpeckers were recorded by their voice on 18-20.06. During 25-28.06 they were as normal, most likely, young individuals were on the nestling ground at that time.


Common nestling migratory species. Nestling in settlements.

Red backed shrike

Common nestling migratory species. Nestling in bush on the forest edge. First appearance was recorded on 04.05. On this day a single male was seen on nestling ground. On the same site, a couple (male and female) was recorded on 09.05, their tread was noted. The second couple was recorded on 300х300 m plot on 18-20.06 only. On 25-28.06 the birds were hustling with their clutch


Common nestling non-migratory species, typical of forest habitat. Their high vocal activity was noted in the end of February. Besides single birds and pairs, groups of 3 individuals were noted. The jay population was kept at a low level. The latest dates of their mating vocal activity was 18.04. By the beginning of May (09.05.) the jay population started to grow, then it was declining at the end of the month (30.05.) and increasing again by the end of June (25-28.06.).


Rare nestling non-migratory species. Normally 1 or 2 birds on flyway were recorded over the permanent monitoring area, their nestling place being somewhere nearby.


Abundant nestling migratory species. Nestling in the forest with pronounced underwood, sometimes prefers gardens. The first emergence (mating voice) was recorded on 10.04. During the entire April the vocal activity of blackcaps was low. It started growing by the beginning of May (01.05). During the nestling period in the mid-summer (18-20.06.) the birds preferred more humid parts of the forest by creeks. Their vocal activity was gradually declining by the end of June (25-26.06.), and was much lower on 29-30.06.

Common whitethroat

Common nestling migratory species. Nestling on wood clearings with high grass and sparse bush. They flew in on 02.05. A mating male was noted on this day. During the nestling period the population was stable. On 30.05 a bird was recorded carrying material for a nest. By 18-20.06 the birds activity declined.

Brown willow warbler

Rare nestling migratory species. The first appearance was recorded in the mid-March (13.03.). The first signing of males on nestling places was noted on 17.03. These birds usually stick to forest edges. Vocal activity was recorded until the beginning of May (02.05.).

Red breasted fly catcher

Rare nestling migratory species. The bird was noted on one part of the old hornbeam-beech forest. A singing male was recorded on 02.05, later it was not visible until the 20 s of June. On 25-28.06 two single birds were seen in a garden not far from the above mentioned forest.

Robin redbreast

Common nestling non-migratory species. Nestling in forest and on forest edges. In the spring, the vocal activity was heard from the mid March (13.03.). By the 21.03 the singing activity was growing. By the beginning of April (04.04.) Robin redbreasts were least visible. However as soon as by 10.04 their population became lower. The male singing was recorded till the beginning of May (09.05.).


Abundant nestling non-migratory species living in forest. The first mating singing was recorded on 29.02. The birds’ activity remained stable until around the 20th of March. Starting from 21.03 the activity was growing and fading away by 19.04. The decrease in vocal activity was likely to be associated with emergence of the first brood. The first young birds were noted in the study area on 01.05. However, in early May the vocal activity of males was on the increase again. It was going down on 18-20.06 and continued decreasing on 29-30.06. Separate males were displaying mating behavior, but after that their songs were not recorded.

Song thrush

Common nestling migratory species. In the spring the singing male voice was first recorded on 14.03. its mating signing was repeatedly heard on the sparse hornbeam forest until the beginning of April (04.04.). Later the birds were visual on the forest edges. The latest male singing was recorded on 03.05. After fledging song thrushes leave their nest places AT least they were not recorded in the monitoring area in June.

Coal tit

Rare nestling non-migratory species. A pair of coal tits were recorded the on breeding grounds at the end of February (29.02.). Starting from the mid March (19.03.) the birds started nestling in one of nest boxes and on 17.03 a complete nest was found there. In mid-March a pair of blue tits were flying near the nest box occupied by coal tits and later they occupied a neighboring box 10 m away on another tree. On 04.04 a total of 7 eggs were indentified in the monitored nest. Interestingly, the eggs were covered with building materials. In early April a sharp cooling occurred, with the air temperature decreasing below 0° С. Covering of the eggs with building materials in the coal tit nest, most likely, prevented its overcooling prior to hatching. Similar pattern in the birds’ behavior was noted for other species, namely, great tit.

On 10.04. the clutch was being hatched and on 22.04 a total of 7 small 2-day old birds were found there, the young left the nest on 09.05.

Blue tit

Rare nestling non-migratory species Typical habitats are sparse forest and edges Pairs of blue tits were noted on nestling grounds at the end of February (29.02.). One of them occupied a nest box, in which a nest of great tit with incomplete clutch occurred. Blue tits built a new nest over the old nest of great tit. On 18.04. a clutch of 9 eggs was being hatched. The small birds emerged on 01.05. Of the nine eggs only two birds emerged. This low breeding success was probably due to a sharp cooling in April in the study area.

Great tit

Abundant nestling non-migratory species. Prefers forest edges, but can also be encountered in forest. At the end of February (29.02.) lekking males were recorded on the nestling grounds. The lek mating period was extended likely due to occurrence of two breeding cycles. A singing male was recorded on 25-28.06. A nest with incomplete clutch (2 eggs) was detecyed in one of the nest boxes on 04.04. like the coal tit nest it was covered with construction materials, which prevented its overcooling during the April spell of cold weather. The nest was then abandoned because of a death of one bird in the couple .

Around the 20th of June newly built nests and nests with clutches were identified in the monitoring area. From 18 to 20.06 a nest in the nest boxes was found which was ready for residing and there was a hatched clutch of 8 eggs in another nest. In the later nest small birds emerged on 23-24.06.


Rare nestling non-migratory species. Typical of oak forest. On one of the areas the first lekking voice was recorded on 29.02, the vocal activity increasing by mid March(13.03.). Later it was not heard often but repeated recorded around the 20th of April (19.04.).


Abundant nestling migratory species. Encountered on flyway as well. Prefers nesting in forest. In winter and early spring the birds stick to forest edges, clearings and gardens. The number of chaffinches varies as a function of meteorological conditions. The are on the increase when snow falls and cold weather sets in and get stable after warming. The first mating voices were recorded in mid March (13.03.). The nestling population of the birds was kept invariably at high level. No fluctuations in the vocal activity of chaffinches were recorded, it was lasting till early May- the last mating voice was recorded on 09.05.

Results of monitoring in 2012

In 2012 a total of 27 avian species were recorded on the monitoring plots. The numerous birds are represented by rock pipit and chaffinch. The common birds are also 8 species: common cuckoo, common bee-eater, yellow-billed chough, raven, blackcap, mountain ouzel, common blackbird and blackheaded nuthatch. Rarely occurring were 16 species: goshawk, buzzard, hobby falcon, Caucasian grouse, tawny owl, gray and white wagtails, jay, common wren, hedge sparrow, mountain warbler, robin, mistle thrush, coal tit, gold-fronted serin, scarlet finch.

Thus the species diversity continues to be rather low (32 species in 2010), even though there is a slight increase in 2012. The relative population of numerous birds has changed as compared to the last year for all groups. In 2012 chaffinch joined the numerous birds, but coal tit was no longer among them. Of the common species only 1 species (blackheaded nuthatch) retained this status both in 2011 and 2012. The rare species are four – black-headed nuthatch. Green warbler, robin and mistle thrush. This suggests that the stability of ornithological complexes continue to change. The population density of birds in the beech forest was 275 individuals per 1 sq km. The total density of birds on the monitoring route continues to decrease as compared with the previous years

On the monitoring areas there is no permanent presence of endangered species such as white-tailed eagle, golden eagle, lammergeyer and griffon vulture) included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation and Red Book of Kransodar kray (except Caucasian grouse). Nevertheless, some endangered birds can occur here, primarily during nomadic migration.

Black stork

During 2012 the occurrence of this species in the Mzymta basin and neighboring areas has increased. Hence, there is an increasing likelihood of occurrence of migratory birds in the vicinity of the monitoring location.


This bird continues nesting in the immediate vicinity of the ski complex. The status of this bird population in 2012 is evaluated as satisfactory, with its population and occurrence increasing during migrations.

Results of monitoring in 2011

On the mountain forest plot in Roza Khutor a total of 18 avian species were recorded in 2011, primarily forest species. The numerous species were only two: rock pipit and coal tit. They were not abundant in 2010. There were 6 common species: white wagtail, jay, blackcap, blue tit, great tit and chaffinch. Rarely occurring were: spotted woodpecker, hedge sparrow, red-breasted flycatcher, green warbler, common wheatear, common blackbird, mistle thrush and nuthatch

Thus there is a decline in the species composition as compared to the last year from 32 (2010) to 18 (2011).also the composition of numerous species change and forest avifauna includes some migratory birds nestling in high mountains (rock pipit).

The birds population density on the monitoring area was 387.5 individuals per 1 sq km. This figure is much higher than in the last year (140.5 individuals per 1 sq km). generally the changes in the total density The dominant species are gray wagtail, jay, common blackbird and chaffinch. The same species were predominant in 2010. High abundance (5% and more of the ornithic population) was noted for raven, coal tit and great tit. Overall, the avian population density gets stabilized following systematic decline in their total population density and structure may be indicative of instability of their communities which is associated with changes in landscape due to construction activities

In 2011, like in 2010, the numerous transient birds were buzzard, sparrow-hawk, common bee-eater, barn swallow and chaffinch. The flyway of rock pipit and house martin was also noted in 2011. Interestingly, congregations of rock pipits were seen in unusual habitats: on waysides and small forest openings. The main direction of migration remained the streamway of the Mzymta. Birds were also flying across the mountains, but sticking to the river streamway in any case. Most of transient birds did not stop in the area of the ski complex. Overall, like in the previous year, no major changes are seen in the pattern of birds migration in the area of the ski complex

On the monitoring areas there is no permanent presence of endangered species included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation and Red Book of Kransodar kray. Nevertheless, some endangered birds can occur here, primarily during nomadic migration.

On the monitoring areas there is no permanent presence of endangered species included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation and Red Book of Kransodar kray. Nevertheless, several endangered species were seen during nomadic migration such as black stork, white-tailed eagle, golden eagle, imperial eagle, lammergeyer, griffon vulture and peregrine

Species composition of birds for the alpine meadow monitoring plot on the territory of the Roza Khutor ski complex, 2011

Results of monitoring in 2010

In Roza Khutor in 2010 a total of 32 avian species were recorded on the mountain forest plot, primarily forest ones. The numerous species, like in 2009, were 3 species: blackcap, common blackbird and chaffinch. The common species were represented by 8 species: common cuckoo, barn swallow, house martin, jay, raven, song thrush, coal tit, great tit. Comparing the data obtained in 2010 with previous years, we see an increase in species diversity of nestling birds. This is probably explained by stabilization of the communities of mountain forest nestling species after the forest stopped to be cut out on the are to be constructed. It was noted that forest-steppe species (such as red-backed shrike and wood pigeon ) tended to penetrate into forest. On the other hand, there are no mountain forest indicator species – green warbler and bullfinch- were not noted here for a number of years. The avian population density and structure on the ornithological monitoring area has not changed significantly. The population density on the mountain forest part of the ornithological monitoring route was 140. 5 individual per 1 sq km in 2010, which is not very different from the 2009 figures (186.5 individuals per 1 sq km)

On the mountain meadow part of the Roza Khutor area under monitoring only 9 species were identified in 2010.the numerous was only rock pipit. The recorded common species are buzzard and scarlet finch. In general the structure of avian communities on the mountain meadow part of the monitoring route was stable like in the previous years

Species composition of birds for the mountain meadow monitoring plot on the territory of the Roza Khutor ski complex, 2010