Gizilagach State Reserve

Country/territory: Azerbaijan

IBA Criteria met: A1, A3, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3 (2005)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 132,500 ha

Protection status:

Azerbaijan Ornithological Society
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2008 medium unfavourable medium
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Gizilagach Bay, an open bay connected to the Caspian, and Kichik (Little) Gizilagach Bay, which is a freshwater reservoir separated from the sea by an artificial dam and is greatly silted-up and overgrown. The relief is characterized by alternating low ridges, open hollows and ancient, silted-up channels. Emergent vegetation includes beds of Phragmites, Scirpus and Juncus. Adjacent, low-lying semi-desert areas with Artemisia, Salsola and dry scrub with Rubus.

Key biodiversity
The IBA holds the largest colonies of Ciconiiformes in Europe, though there has been a decline: from 225,000 pairs of 10 species in 1957 to c.60,000 pairs in the 1980s. Other breeding species include Botaurus stellaris, Ardea purpurea, Tadorna ferruginea, Himantopus himantopus, Chlidonias leucopterus, Merops superciliosus (500-700 pairs), and passerines such as Passer hispaniolensis (colonies of 500-10,000, once 70,000, nests). Until recently, an immensely important stop-over and wintering site, but waterbird numbers (ducks and Fulica atra) have fallen dramatically: from 10 million in 1930, to 5-7 million in the late 1950s, to 1,500,000 by the end of the 1960s, to 338,000-715,000 in the 1970s and to 200,000-400,000 at the beginning of the 1980s. A total of 50,000-170,000 diving ducks were reported during the mid-1980s (see also F. atra in Table), but total (ducks and F. atra) in 1989 only 40,000. In January 1991 there were 628,370 waterbirds (mostly wildfowl, but also 243,250 Fulica atra, 12,970 Phoenicopterus ruber, 1,750 Pelecanus), then in 1996 there were 180,000-362,000 waterbirds. Species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Haliaeetus albicilla, Aquila clanga (both winter). At least 19 species of shorebirds winter (e.g. 1,200 Recurvirostra avosetta in 1996) and large flocks of Alauda arvensis in 1996 contained many Melanocorypha leucoptera.

Non-bird biodiversity: There are more than 360 species of plants, 54 species of important fish species, 14 species of amphibians and reptiles and 23 species of mammals were found in the border of Reserve.

Raptors MOU - IBA listed under Table 3 of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gizilagach State Reserve. Downloaded from on 22/03/2019.