Europe and Central Asia
24 Jan 2019

Incredible flock of 5 million bramblings wows Slovenia

Bramblings in Slovenia © Ruj Mihelic
Bramblings in Slovenia © Ruj Mihelic
By Tjaša Zagoršek

Slovenia is witnessing an incredible birding event this winter. One so rare, it only happens once or twice in a decade – a huge flock of five million bramblings.

Over the past two months, our Slovenian BirdLife partner, DOPPS, has received many excited calls from keen birdlovers reporting sightings of enormous numbers of birds filling the skies over the Zasavje Valley in central Slovenia. After viewing footage sent in by the public, ornithologists at DOPPS were delighted to discover that an incredible, once-in-a-decade natural event was occuring – a spectacular gathering of some five million bramblings.

© Ruj Mihelic

With its black head, orange breast and white belly, the small male brambling is a distinctive looking member of the finch family. This widespread, migratory species is a regular winter guest in Slovenia and is often seen in very large flocks of many thousands. But a flock numbering millions is a rare occurance.

In winter, bramblings tend to favour beech woodland and farmland fields near woods and experts are suggesting that the strong growth of beech trees in the region may account for the unexepected number of visitors. 

© Tomaz Mihelic

As leading ornithologist Tomaž Mihelič explains ''At first, when we started receiving calls it was hard to believe that this was happening. But when the specific weather conditions are right and the growth of European beech has been so substantial, this  is possible. Seeing this incredible scene live was true poetry in motion.''

DOPPS has confirmed that this wintertime wonder is even bigger than those in the Bohor region in 2004-05 and around Trnovski forest in 2008-9 when flocks of around two million were recorded.


Tjaša Zagoršek, DOPPS – BirdLife Slovenia

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