India is home to over 1200 bird species, a record which very few countries can boast of. However this bird population is spread over the vast area of the county, from Himalayas in the North to Western Ghats in South, to the Central Plains to Desert and Shrublands of West to the Mangroves of East. Discover the best birding places in India as we present our curated list of the top picks
The network of seven interconnected freshwater lakes lends the name to this place. Sattal is in Nainital, in the lower Himalayan region at a height of 1,370 meters. With over 500 species of resident and migratory birds, this place is a birdwatcher’s heaven. Pangot, at a distance of 15 kilometers from Nainital is home to about 580 different bird species. A combined trip to these two locations of the Kumaon region provides the ultimate birding experience. You can spot Cheer Pheasant, Kalij Pheasant, and Koklass Pheasant, apart from the Himalayan birds, like the Himalayan Bulbul, red-billed blue magpie, Himalayan woodpecker, etc. in Pangot. Other birds like the blue-throated Barbet, black-headed jay, green-tailed sunbird, and russet sparrow are also common here.
Located in the western Himalayan mountain range in Uttarakhand, Chopta is a magnificent place in the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. The place is miles away from the city and the unspoiled region supports over 240 bird species. Thanks to the thick forests, rich in deodar, pine, and rhododendron, this amazing location is often referred as “Mini Switzerland”. The dense forests in these scenic mountains support rich biodiversity. You can spot birds such as Himalayan Monal, Crested Goshwawak, Upland Buzzard, Snow Patridge, Bearded Vulture, Scarlet Finch, Cheer Pheasant, Pied Thrush, and many other rare species.
The Jim Corbett National Park is famous for its tiger reserve and being the pioneer of the Save Tiger project. The 1300 square-kilometer park is in the Nainital and Pauri Garwhal districts of Uttarakhand. Dense forests, open grasslands, and river valleys provide an appropriate habitat for many species of flora and fauna. The region supports over 550 bird species, making it one of the richest bird regions of India. Some species that you can spot here are Cinereous Vulture, Booted Hawk Eagle, Bluetailed Be-eater, Indian Ring Dove, and Common Peafowl. The park is also home to some exotic species like Blue-winged Minla, Ultramarine Flycatcher, and Long-tailed Broadbill.
Around 200 kilometers south of Delhi lies the Keoladeo National Park of Bharatpur. The national park supports animals like wildcats, reptiles, and fish. It is also home to 64 families, 181 genera, and 375 species of resident and migratory birds. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is amongst India’s best birding spots and often called “Ornithologist’s Paradise”. Spread over about 30 square kilometers, the national park is an amalgamation of wetlands, swamps, woodlands, and dry grasslands. This diverse terrain supports an array of animal and bird species. Some prominent species that you can spot here are Sarus Cranes, Indian Peafowl, Painted Stork, Ruddy Shelduck, Spoonbills, Flycatchers, Shanks, and Hawks.
LRK (Little Rann of Kutch)
LRK is a flat, salt-encrusted desert and forms the southern extension of the Great Rann of Kutch. Spread over about 7200 square kilometers, the Wild Ass Sanctuary supports several bird species, numbering close to 200. The vast land has undulating sand dunes and sprawling wastelands, and yet it supports various majestic bird species. Great waves of migratory birds arrive in this region during the winters. Species like Common Crane, Demoiselle Crane, Lesser Flamingo, Dalmatian Pelican, Short-eared Owl, and Montagu’s Harrier can be spotted here.
Desert National Park
The expansive Desert National Park occupies 3162 square kilometers of the Thar Desert. The region experiences extremely hot and dry weather with little to no precipitation. These harsh conditions do not deter the several species of birds that live in the region or migrate seasonally. DNP is also home to the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard. Apart from them, you can also encounter species like Tawny Eagle, Desert Warbler, Black bellied and spotted sandgrouse, and rufous tailed shrike.
Great Rann of Kutch
The vast expanse of Great Rann of Kutch covers varied terrain- semi-arid desert, thorn forests, saline marshlands, and great grasslands. Located in Kutch, the largest district in India, the Great Rann of Kutch is at a strategic location that sees numerous migratory birds. Around 370 bird species, including local and migratory ones, can be spotted in the region. Birds like European Nightjar, Blue-cheeked bee-eater, European roller, and Great Whitethroat pass through here. Other species that you can spot include Tawny and Bonneli’s Eagle, Great Hypocolius, and Acquila Eagles.
This tranquil and unspoiled place in Kerala is one of the best places to do birding in South India. It is between the branches of Periyar River and the 25 square kilometer area supports rich biodiversity. Rain forests, deciduous forests, and marshlands provide appropriate habitat to the 250 species of birds here. The diverse bird-life of Thattekad includes the Oriented Bay Owl, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Grey-headed Bulbul, Black Baza, Malabar Parakeet, and Whistling Thrush, among many others.
Located in Karnataka, this region is filled with lush rainforests, river valleys and rich foliage. It offers great habitat to the diverse species of flora and fauna. Apart from wildlife safaris, whitewater rafting, and boating, this place is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, with over 250 different species living here. Out of the 9 species of Hornbills, 4 of them live here. Other bird species include yellow footed pigeon, Black Drongo, Asian Paradise Fly Catcher, and White-rumped Shama.
The forests of Sundarbans are at the southern tip of Bengal, where land meets sea and the rivers Ganga, Meghna, and Brahmaputra form the world’s largest delta. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers 4200 square kilometers in India and an even bigger area in Bangladesh. Although large parts of the Sundarbans are inhospitable and dangerous, the parts that are accessible play host to a variety of flora and fauna. Around 230 species of birds live here, like the Black-capped Kingfisher, Streak-throated Woodpecker, Grey-headed Lapwing, Small Minivet, Asian Openbill, Greenish Warbler, and Purple Sunbird.
The Mangalajodi wetlands, at the northern edge of Chilka Lake are home to about 300,000 birds belonging to over 100 different species. Migrating birds make their journey to the brackish lagoons of Chilka, all the way from Russia and Mongolia. The local villagers, who used to be expert bird-hunters, are now spearheading the community-based eco-tourism, and helping in the conservation efforts. The diverse populations of birds include sandpipers, egrets, garganey, Northern Pintail, Purple Swamphen, and Tufted Ducks.
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