Joost van der Ven, in his book “Looking at Birds in the Kyrgyz Republic” devotes a special chapter to cranes and the migratory routes that bring three different species to Kyrgyzstan. 

These long legged, long necked, migratory birds with powerful wings, live either in marshlands on the steppes where they feed on plants, insects and even small animals. 

In Spring, (typically in April), the birds fly from the region to the West of New Delhi in India – to their summer nesting grounds in Siberia. Some fly up over the Western part of the republic and then turn East along the valley of the river Chui and the shores of Lake Issyk Kul, where they are joined by others who have flown through the Central Tien Shan. 

In June, the non-breeding or moulting birds start to gather for the return journey and can be seen at the Tash Otkool reservoir to the North of Bishkek – actually, this is in Kazakhstan, so there are visa problems for anyone who wants to go and see them.  

In Autumn by about September, the birds repeat the route in reverse – although apparently they are not as disciplined in following the route as in the spring.  

Species of cranes are found throughout the world, except (for some reason) in South America, and they are given a place in many cultures. There is a Russian tradition that the soldiers when the die in battle turn into these birds.

They are mentioned in some of the guide books to Central Asia, and we sometimes get asked if it is possible to see them. Hence the special mention here…