Moscow nature: who can tell birds apart by their sounds?

There are over 2,000 types of plants and 280 kinds of animals in Moscow

People who live in rural areas always want to come to the city. City residents, on the other hand, want to spend as much time as they can in nature. This is why people who live in cities pay special attention to plants and animals. But you don’t have to leave Moscow in order to hear the sounds of birds and marvel at the beauty of flowers, bushes and trees. There is plenty of plant and animal life in the Russian capital.

Suffice it to say that the Red Book of Moscow has 480 different kinds of animals, plants, and mushrooms. You can see most of them in specially protected natural areas. As of today, these areas make up 17 percent of the city’s territory. Protected areas are spaces that house natural sites that have special cultural, scientific, aesthetic and therapeutic value. There are a total of 118 such areas in the capital.

This includes landscape and natural reserves, natural parks and natural monuments, as well as natural and historical parks. The latter take up the most space among specially protected natural areas in Moscow. for example, Sokolniki Park is located on a total area of 229.2 hectares.

By law, people cannot distort landscapes, start fires, burn grass or dried leaves, cut down trees, hunt, walk dogs, and drive in specially protected natural areas. Breaking these regulations can result in a fine ranging from 500 to 300,000 rubles.

In Moscow, over 75,000 hectares of land have received the status of specially protected green areas. It is forbidden to work with toxic chemicals, hunt, develop deposits, and engage in agriculture or capital construction in these areas.

Specially protected areas in Moscow are home to several environmental areas. For example, you can learn more about the capital’s plant and animal life at the Vorobyevy Gory reserve, Kuzminki-Lyublino Park and Bitsevskiy Les Park, as well as at Serebryany Bor. The trails at Kuzminki-Lyublino Park and Bitsevskiy Les are equipped to accommodate children with disabilities. In Kuzminki, the trail stretches for over five kilometers. From April to October, the park hosts tours where participants learn how to tell birds apart by the sounds they make and study the quality water in the Goledyanka River.

At Serebryany Bor, there is an entire bird city along the nature trail, with bird houses, feedboxes for ducks, and aviaries for herons and vultures. Over the past few years, environmental scientists have noted that there is a population growth among rare birds. The number of several kinds of rare birds is gradually growing and reaching safer levels. For example, there are more black woodpeckers, windhovers, goshawks, and red-footed falcons. Some of them are endangered species.

Moreover, specially protected natural areas house many plants that are included in the Red Book of Moscow, including the mayflower, the unspotted lungwort, the hollow-root, the yellow anemone, the wood anemone, the cow lily, Solomon’s seal, the bitter peavine, the cowslip paigle, and lily of the valley.

The Moscow Department of Environmental Protection has set up working groups on the development, improvement, and protection of specially protected natural areas. These groups include environmental scientists, municipal deputies, teachers, and experts from the department, prefectures, and administrations.

Here are some examples of the flora and fauna in Moscow:

River warbler

About the size of a sparrow. Usually found in river floodplains. The nests are usually located at the base of a dense but short willow bush. The river warbler leads a somewhat secretive lifestyle. Runs or walks on the ground. It makes sounds similar to locust chirping. You can usually hear it in the evening or early in the morning.

White-backed Woodpecker

Is in the Red Books of many European countries. Looks like the more common pileated woodpecker, but is a bit bigger in size. Has a white or striped back. The males have a red cap with whitish specks, while in females the top of the head is black.

A white-backed woodpecker couple can cover an area 200 square meters in size while searching for food to give to offspring. Eats insects, berries, nuts. Usually builds nests in birch forests.

Tettigonia cantans

Can be found in tall grass, bushes and separately standing trees, in meadows and wastelands, forest glades and edges. Lays eggs in the soil, where they spend the winter. Adults can live on trees three to five meters tall. Feeds on plants or insects. They usually live alone, but if there are several grasshoppers in a small area, the male with the longest mustache becomes the leader.

Lily of the valley

A perennial plant. Usually found in specially protected environmental areas. Picking these wild flowers has been prohibited in Moscow since 1984. If the law is lifted, the plant would be at risk of extinction. The lily of the valley is often mentioned in myths, legends, and poetry. Medicine based on lilies are used to treat heart conditions. This plant is poisonous.

Corydalis solida

A perennial plant. Takes four years to blossom for the first time. Grows on specially protected areas, in large forests, or on steep slopes. Can also grow along the banks of rivers and streams. The bulb can be yanked out even if you pull on the plant lightly while trying to pick it, which is why a lot of plants perish. Picking these wild flowers has been prohibited in Moscow since 1984.



Founder: Department for External Economic and International Relations of the Government of Moscow

Address: Voznesenskiy Pereulok, 22, Moscow, 125009

Ph: +7 (495) 633-68-66, Fax: +7 (495) 633-68-65


Acknowledgements to:

PHOTO –,, ITAR TASS Agency, RIA-Novosti, Getty Images Russia, companies and organizations, represented in the issue.

If you wish to get new issues of Capital Ideas, please, apply to:

The magazine is registered with at the Federal Authority of Legislative Control in Mass Media and Cultural Heritage Protection. Media registration certificate ФС77-53716, issued April 26, 2013.

All reproduction permitted only with the Editor’s permission and reference to ‘Capital Ideas’.

Published with support from the Department for External Economic and International Relations of the Government of Moscow