7 Amazing Migratory Birds You Can Find at Suncheon Bay

Cranes in flight
Cranes in flight | © Brian Ralphs / Flickr
Mimsie Ladner

A wide estuary and tidal flatland, South Korea’s Suncheon Bay is inhabited by more than 200 species of birds. Many of them, including several endangered varieties, stop here along their migratory routes. Learn more about a few of these magnificent migratory creatures that call Suncheon Bay home below.


The mallard or wild duck is the largest and the most abundant duck in the world, and primarily inhabits the wetlands, marshes, ponds, lakes, rivers and flooded areas of the northern hemisphere. While the females of the species are brown in color and quite plain looking, the males (or drakes) have a shiny green head, a white ring around their necks and gray feathers on their wings and belly. Due to its beautiful aesthetic, the mallard duck is one of the most popular ducks for bird watchers and, unfortunately, hunters.

Mallards at Suncheon Bay Garden Expo

Common Shelduck

Common shelduck

Eurasian Curlew

Eurasian curlew is a wading bird. During its 5,000 kilometer migratory flight from Australia to Siberia, it loses half of its body weight. During this flight, it rests for two weeks at Suncheon Bay to rebuild its strength by consuming the rich food sources available in the wetlands. In addition to providing an abundance of nutritional food, the numerous beds of Suaeda japonica reeds and Phragmites communis (common reeds) serve as a natural shelter for the birds.

Eurasian curlew

Black-faced Spoonbill

Black-faced spoonbills are long-legged, long-necked wading birds that bear a resemblance to egrets. Their black, elongated beaks gradually narrow and flare out into a flattened disk with a nail at the tip. With a global population of around 3,300, they are the rarest and least-studied spoonbills in the world. The birds breed between March and September on small islands along the western coast of the Korean Peninsula to China’s Liaoning Province, with the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea being the biggest breeding area. In winter, the black-faced spoonbill migrates southward to their wintering grounds, stopping in Suncheon Bay.

Black-faced spoonbills search for food

Cattle Egret

The short, thick-necked cattle egret spends more time in fields than in streams. It scours for food at the feet of cattle (hence its name), or rides on their backs to pick at ticks. This stumpy white heron boasts yellow plumes on its head and neck during breeding season. Originally from Africa, where it forages alongside camels, ostriches, rhinos, and even tortoises, it is now found throughout the world.

Cattle egret


The dunlin is a recognizable shorebird all over the world. Its vivid reddish back and black belly and long bill differentiate it from almost all other shorebirds. In winter, it feeds in flocks – sometimes numbering thousands – roosting on nearby fields, salt marshes and shore during the high tide. The dunlin is one of many species that spends part of the year in South Korea and elsewhere in Asia, but travels to Alaska for the summer breeding season.

Dunlins in flight

White-Naped Crane

The white-naped crane is a large species of crane, it has a gray body, pinkish legs, a gray and white neck, a white head and characteristic red patches around its eyes. The birds inhabit grassy marshes, wet meadows and reed beds in broad river valleys. The eastern populations of the species migrate through the Korean peninsula, and winter in the DMZ between North and South Korea. Several hundreds of birds continue on to southern Japan, where they join a large wintering population of hooded crane.

White-naped cranes
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article