When one thinks of India, visuals of festivals, colours, spices, temples and most certainly the Taj Mahal come to mind. After all, the subcontinent covers a staggering area of 3.29 million sq kms, where the language and culture changes every 100 kms. There is no doubt that India a true epitome of diversity when compared to any other country around the globe. In the case of birds, there is no exception either, with over 1200 species that can be seen here. Known for its geological prowess, the Indian subcontinent exhibits a wide collection of biodiversity that has evolved and adapted with its natural wonders over millennia. With an assemblage of landscapes ranging from the serene Himalayas in the North to the tropical Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, the sheer options presented to any birder is incredibly rewarding. A birding tour here involves wandering and navigating through different areas within the subcontinent as one seeks and records the feathered denizens with a sense great fulfilment. It is a country with an array of hotspots that leaves enthusiasts glued to their binoculars as they tick off checklists within days. Below are some of the most notable reasons why India is one of the top birding destinations of our planet –
- A Range of Landscapes
If one could hover like a Black Winged Kite and swiftly glance over the subcontinent, they would probably witness a mosaic of landscapes merge into one another with Deserts, Coastal Mangroves, Deciduous Forests, Evergreen Forests, Grasslands, Open and Cultivated Land, Scrublands, Wetlands and Mountain Ranges. India has a visually stunning diversity that is sure to take one’s breath away, making it ideal for a bird photography tour.
- Over 60+ Endemic species
Endowed with a range of geological entities, it is no surprise that a few species in India are inherently unique. With over 60 endemics seen nowhere else in the world, the species that reside here are most certainly bucket list worthy. Birds such as the Painted Francolin is widespread in the Northern part of the country while in the Northeast of India, we have birds such as the Bugun Liocichla, the Tawny Breasted Wren Babbler and the Manipur Bush Quail. However, it is the Western Ghats and the Andaman Islands that top the list with more than 40 endemics found in the country. While the former hosts species such as the Malabar Barbet, The Grey Jungle fowl, White Bellied Treepie and the Flame throated Bulbul, the latter is a stronghold for the likes of the Andaman Serpent Eagle, the Andaman Hawk Owl and the Narcondam Hornbill, to name a few.
- A Haven for Migratory Birds
With right conditions prevailing in most parts of the country with respect to the availability of food, weather and habitats, many migratory birds prefer India as an ideal pit stop to breed, refuel and even nest. These migrants are known to visit the region to winter here from Northern and Central Asia, while some even descend from Eastern parts of Europe. Migratory birds usually arrive post monsoons, which can be as early as August and depart as late as May in some cases. The most notable visitors are ducks, geese and waders that gather around wetlands, producing some enthralling visuals as they partake in a mass feeding frenzy.
- Over 450 classified ‘Important Birding Areas’
Marked as some of the most excellent indicators of healthy ecosystems, many of the Important Bird Areas of India include national parks, bird sanctuaries and an array of key birding hotspots that present a plethora of viewing options ranging from hiking to traversing by motorboat, canoe or even open jeep safaris. With such alternatives at one’s disposal, excursions through the different parts of the country could very well entail the complete birding experience for any birder.
- Other Wildlife and Cultural Opportunities
Another highlight worth mentioning is that you can club your birding excursions with other aspects of nature as well. With India harbouring a resplendent show of mammals, plants, reptiles and insects, this complete celebration of wildlife makes it the perfect hotspot for bird lovers and nature enthusiasts alike. Not only do you have the liberty to seek the rich avifauna but you can also compliment your birding tour with some fascinating mammals such as the Tiger, Rhino, Elephants, Gibbons and the rarely seen Red Pandas. India is also a land filled with a rich historical background, allowing you to club your journey by visiting either the Taj Mahal, the religious Ghats of Varanasi or even the World UNESCO Heritage Site of the Khajuraho Temples.