Ornithology and birdwatching in BiH

06.07.2018 at 09:31

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Dr.sci. Dražen Kotrošan, is employed in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina as an ornithologist. He performs the duties of the Head of the Department of Natural Sciences. He is also the founder of the Ornithological Society Naše ptice. Author and co-author of more than 300 scientific, professional and popular articles, monographs and other publications. Author and co-author of several exhibitions. Associate on several documentary films about birds. More than 35 projects. Team Coordinator who won the First Quarry Life Award in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2012.

Ornithological Society "Naše ptice" is a non-governmental, non-profit, non-political and volunteer organization, founded in 2003 in Sarajevo, engaged in ornithology, ecology, marking and protection of birds and their habitats. Society's activities include an educational program, which is aimed at educating the public on the importance of protection of the birds and their habitats, bird watching trainings and practical ways to help birds, research and conservation programs, which includes a variety of actions and projects through which they collect data on significant areas for birds in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the state of populations of rare and endangered species, phenomena that endangers birds and their habitats, as well as  publishing activity, which is reflected in the fact that since 2005 Society regularly publishes "Newsletter of observers of birds in Bosnia and Herzegovina", as well as a series of educational materials, monographs and other publications within various projects (www.ptice.ba).

Dražen is our guide through the world of birds and bird lovers.



Thanks to the exceptional diversity of habitats from sea level to the highest mountain peaks, a large number of bird species are encountered in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which represents an excellent basis for the development of birdwatching as a tourist branch. bird watching is becoming increasingly popular among young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina every year, but we are still far away from the countries nearby (Croatia and Serbia), and especially from more developed countries such as Great Britain, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium... Although no tourist agency  in Bosnia and Herzegovina offers bird watching as part of the arrangement, besides Denis Bohm and his agency Wild Herzegovina, the number of birdwatchers coming to us every year is increasing. Smaller groups of bird watchers are coming with individual guides from Slovenia and other countries, and guests from Arab countries also show a growing interest. It should be emphasized, however, that if we want to promote birdwatching, we need to preserve the karst fields, the swamps, the mountains and other habitats, and not just think of turning them into energy fields and wind farms.


Today, only Nature Park Hutovo blato allows boat tours and bird watching. However, thanks to the support of the MAVA Foundation and EuroNature, which supported several projects in the karst fields in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and with the support of the Ornithological Society "Naše ptice" and the "Naša baština" Association, our partner from Tomislavgrad, we built two bird watching tower on Buško lake and Ždralovac on the Livno field. Three rest- stations with information boards and tourist signaling were made in the Duvanjsko polje, which is the beginning of creating preconditions for launching birdwatching as touristic activity. There are some other activities planned on Blidinje and Vran, and right now a manual we prepared for the needs of future tourist guides who will be specialized in bird watching is in process of publishing. 


Mostly everyone knows about Hutovo blato and Livno field, our ornithological pearls. Bardača used to be a pride in ornithological sense, but today it’s dried up and almost completely destroyed. However, it is necessary to point out that all of our karst fields, from Mostarsko blato to Duvanjsko polje, are still a real challenge for ornithologists, but they also tend to degradation. On the other hand, a few swamps like Tišina or ponds like Saničani are also extremely attractive bird watching destinations. Finally, the mountains that our county is famous for are real challenge for bird watchers, and we can say that a real adrenaline test is waiting for you if you go looking for some species on any of them. 


The basic equipment for bird watching are binoculars, field notebooks and some of the type-specific manuals. The next step is to own a telescope, which is particularly useful for observing birds on water surfaces. Over the last decades, with the development of digital photography, there are more and more people dedicated to bird photography and there is almost no observer who do not own the camera. All other equipment is a matter of personal needs for more complex research. Of course, research like bird marking nevertheless represents a more professional approach to birds.


Caution is the first thing we point out to everyone when they leave for field to observe the birds. Unfortunately, Bosnia and Herzegovina carries a burden of recent bloody past and traces of that time in the form of minefields and residual individual explosive devices are present everywhere. Bird watching is extremely attractive and sometimes you forget about these deadly traps. Another tip is moderation and adherence to ethical principles, especially when it comes to bird photography. Many people are willing to take photographs at any cost, destroying habitats, endangering youngs and so on.



European Day of Bird Watching, at the beginning of October. There are educational programs such as Spring Alive and scientific bird tracking such as the Winter Wetfish Counting (IWC). Every year "Naše ptice" organizes Ornitofestival, in partnership with local organizations, every year in different city, with the aim of promoting ornithology, bird watching, protection of birds and their habitats, birdwatching development as a tourist offer and a general gathering of bird lovers.

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