Nallıhan Bird Sanctuary

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Nallıhan Bird Sanctuary is an artificial wetland ecosystem located in the Davutoğlan village within the Nallıhan district of Ankara province, Turkey. It was formed at the confluence of the Aladağ Creek with the Sarıyar Dam, which was put into service in 1959. The sanctuary is situated on the historical Silk Road and is approximately 130 km from Ankara and Eskişehir, 300 km from Istanbul, 100 km from Bolu, and 30 km from Beypazarı and Nallıhan districts.


Nallıhan Bird Sanctuary is one of the important bird areas in Turkey and is designated as the “Nallıhan Bird Sanctuary” due to its rich bird diversity. The 425-hectare area, where birds are more densely observed, was designated as a Wildlife Development Area and hunting was prohibited in 1994. With the ban on hunting, restrictions on human activities, and increased public awareness, birds have gained a safe habitat for breeding and habitation.


The ecological diversity of the area, including willow groves, reed beds, tamarisk trees, extensive agricultural fields, poplar groves, steppe areas, rocky ravines, and hills, provides habitat and abundant food sources for various species of birds.


So far, 191 bird species have been observed in Nallıhan Bird Sanctuary. Not only the sanctuary but also the entire Sarıyar Dam is significant for bird life. During the winter, Sarıyar Dam provides habitat for thousands of waterfowl. During the annual Mid-Winter Waterbird Count, it has been observed that the number of waterbirds wintering at the dam exceeds 50,000 in some years. Species such as the great crested grebe, common pochard, red-crested pochard, pygmy cormorant, great black-headed gull, and black-headed gull constitute a significant portion of the wintering birds.


The willow grove formed at the confluence of the Aladağ Creek with the dam is one of the most important breeding habitats for fish-eating bird species in Turkey. Within the 5-hectare willow grove area, 190 pairs of little egret, 170 pairs of grey heron, and 140 pairs of night heron breed. Grey herons prefer the upper and middle branches of willow trees for nesting, while little egrets use branches closer to the top and/or middle branches. Night herons utilize the lowest branches of willow trees for nesting. They build 8 to 15 nests in each willow tree. Additionally, two pairs of black kite have been recorded incubating near the colony in nearby willow trees. The reed bed area in the sanctuary is used for breeding by several species, including little bittern (>5 pairs), little crake (2 pairs), squacco heron (2 pairs), garganey (20-30 pairs), common moorhen (15-20 pairs), and purple swamphen (10 pairs).


The rocky ravines extending to the east and south, located behind the Bird Sanctuary, provide important breeding habitats for black storks and raptor species. It has been recorded that 4 pairs of black stork, 1 pair of red kite, 2 pairs of long-legged buzzard, and Eurasian rock thrush breed in this area. The Important Bird Areas of Turkey update also mentioned that 20 pairs of black kite and black stork breed in the region (2004). Since a comprehensive breeding study has not been conducted in the area so far, it is estimated that these numbers are higher. A detailed breeding study is expected to reveal numerous bird species, especially raptors, that nest in the area.