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Ventė Cape is a peninsula at the Curonian Lagoon, not far from the mouth of the Nemunas River, to the south of Ventė village. It is the most westward point of Šilutė district. It is mostly known for its ornithological station used for ringing migrating birds.
Ventė Cape ornithological station has a museum where visitors can learn about the nature of the delta and the ringing of birds. The station provides information on the history of bird migration studies and ringing, and provides visitors with a museum exposition of seacoast birds. A small display is also installed in the park’s information centre.
The history of Ventė Cape is very interesting. In 1360, Windenburg Castle and church were built here by the Crusaders which were later destroyed by lagoon waves. Stones of the castle were used to build a new stone church, however the tip of Ventė Cape still relentlessly eroded from the waves and the storms. The new stone church of Ventė collapsed in around 1700. In 1705, its remains were transported to Kintai and used in the constructions of Kintai church.
In 1929, a bird ringing station was opened in Ventė Cape by professor Tadas Ivanauskas, which is used to this day. This area is the main migration route of Lithuanian birds travelling to the south of Europe, the tropics and even southern Africa.
A lighthouse has been used on the tip of the Ventė Cape since 1863, because this area was particularly dangerous for ships and rafters. It is the oldest lighthouse of the seven lighthouses standing in Lithuania.
Ventė Cape lighthouse is a state-protected technical monument.
The first wooden lighthouse was built in Ventė Cape as early as in 1837. An oil lamp was used to light it. The current red brick lighthouse was built in 1852. It is 11 m high. Ventė Cape lighthouse is one of a few Lithuanian lighthouses which is available for visitors who can climb onto it and enjoy the views. Old iron stairs decorated with original ornaments lead to the observation deck of the lighthouse. This object is also important as a viewpoint tower providing scenic views of the Curonian Lagoon, the Curonian Spit and Rusnė Island. Visitors can even see the golden dunes of the Curonian Spit and Nida located 12-13 km to the southwest, as well as Preila which is located 8.5 km to the west.
Ventė Cape is an ideal geographical location for catching and ringing birds. The eastern cost of the Baltic Sea includes one of the largest bird migration routes. It is one of the most mysterious, unexplained and gripping phenomena of nature. Every year in the spring and autumn, millions of birds fly above our country while travelling to or from their native lands together with their young. In September-October, there are often days when more than 3 million birds fly over the Lithuanian seaside near Klaipėda in a single day, of which 70-80 percent turn towards the Curonian Spit and 20-30 percent continue their journey across the eastern coast of the Curonian Lagoon towards the Ventė Cape. When these birds reach the tip of the cape and see the vast waters of the lagoon, most of the smaller birds turn back, land on trees and bushes, and then once again try to continue their journey through the lagoon.
The ornithological station was founded in 1929 under the initiative of professor T. Ivanauskas. Sometimes up to 300 thousand birds per year pass through the Ventė Cape. Around 60-80 thousand birds per year are ringed in the station. A record was reached on 23 September 2002, when 6519 birds were ringed in a single day. The station has a museum which educates its visitors about the landscape of the Curonian Lagoon, the most characteristic biotopes and the most commonly encountered animals.
At first, birds were caught by placing nets on bushes and driving the birds into them. In 1959, special bird catchers were installed. Employees of the station built a bird catcher in the Curonian Spit in 1962 and began ringing migrating birds there (from 1986, the task of bird ringing in the Curonian Spit was passed on to the newly established bird ringing station in Juodkrantė). In 1978, a large bird catcher was installed in Ventė Cape which was lifted to a height of 25 meters.