Birding Areas in India
It’s underrated when it comes to avian experiences, but India should be on every twitcher’s wishlist. From the lush hills of the south to the jungles of Rajasthan to the mountains of the Himalayas, there are a plethora of top-notch bird watching spots. Read on to find out more about the ins and outs of bird watching in India.
Best birding areas in India
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
The romantic Andaman Islands, which are strewn over the Bay of Bengal, roughly 1,300 kilometres from mainland India, are the perfect place to go birding if you want to feel like a castaway. The islands are home to woodpeckers, wood pigeons, cuckoo doves, treepies, black-naped orioles, and hawk owls, among other species, and are a tropical treasure trove of tweeters. You’ll also be able to don a snorkel and check out the colourful residents of the aquatic realm in addition to gazing up at the sky.
The easternmost state of India, Arunachal Pradesh, is on everyone’s bucket list for a variety of reasons. For the entire subcontinent, it is the country of the rising sun, with interwoven snow-capped mountains, interesting tribal culture, and a plethora of fairs and celebrations. However, it is one-of-a-kind because of the abundance of birds that can be found here. The avifauna of Arunachal Pradesh is particularly diverse. Zemithang, Sangti Valley, Baily Trails, Tawang area, Nameri, Dirang, Sela pass, Shangti Valley, Mandala, Eagle nest, and Bhalukpong are just a few of the protected locations worth mentioning for bird watching. In Arunachal Pradesh, there are 25 designated Important Bird Areas. Hundreds of avian species, including many migratory and endangered species, may be found only in the West Kameng and Tawang Districts.
Among all of them, the Mandala-Phudung forest region, which is also an Important Bird Area, is one of the most popular birdwatching destinations in Arunachal Pradesh (IBA). Gould’s Shortwing, Brown Bush Warbler, Red Crossbill, Blanford’s Rosefinch, Temminck’s Tragopan, Kessler’s Thrush, and White-bellied Redstart are among the bird species found in Mandala-Phudung. Sela Pass, at an elevation of 3,500 to 4,500 metres, is also a fantastic birdwatching spot. Blood Pheasant, Snow Partridge, Himalayan Monal, Gould’s Shortwing, Grandala, Tibetan Blackbird, White-browed Tit Babbler, three species of Grosbeaks, and species of Rosefinches are some of the important bird species seen at Sela Pass. Eaglenest, considered as one of the top birding sites in the world, is also a fantastic area to go birdwatching, with over 650 bird species in the sanctuary’s & surrounding woodland.
Assam, the land of mystique blue hills and valleys interspersed by hundreds of rivers and wetlands serve as a rare refuge for diverse life forms. Assam is home to more than half of the Indian subcontinent’s around 1200 species of avifauna, as well as 3107 species of flowering plants, 192 species of orchids, 185 species of reptiles, 190 species of mammals, and hundreds of bug and butterfly species. Bird Life International has notified roughly 20 distinct Important Bird Habitats in Assam, in addition to its well-known protected areas, and several others have already been added to the proposed list.
Studies undertaken so far in this particular area has enabled us to list as many as 109 species of birds including 10 types of Red Data Book species such as Asian Open bill Stork Anastomus oscitans, Lesser Adjutant Stork Leptotilos javanicus, Greater Adjutant Stork Leptotilos dubious, White Eyed or Ferruginous Pochard Aythya nyroca, Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri, Red-necked or Red headed Falcon Falco chicquera, Swamp Francolin or Swamp Partridge Francolinus gularis, Manipur Bush Quail Perdicula manipurensis, Jerdon’s Bushchat Saxicola jerdoni, Bristled Grass Warbler Chaetornis straitus. Fairly recently, Java Munia or Java Sparrow Lonchura oryzivora previously unrecorded from the Northeastern region of India, also has been sighted in the Deobali area.
Gujarat boasts an unrivalled range of eco-systems, which is reflected in the state’s diverse birdlife. Gujarat has deciduous forests like Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, vast grasslands of Kutch and Bhavnagar districts, scrub-jungles, river systems like the Narmada, Mahi, Sabarmati, and Tapti, a multitude of lakes and other wetlands known for their birdlife, and a long coastline with two gulfs, many estuaries, and a long coastline with two gulfs, many estuaries, and a long coastline with two gulf The wetlands of Gujarat are a birdwatcher’s delight, as they are located along vital flyways for millions of birds moving south in the winter.
Haryana has about 600 bird species, according to the most recent inventory available from Delhibird. Sultanpur Jheel (with its apartments facing the railway track, which are home to chats and coursers), as well as the nearby Basai Wetland and Bhindawas Lake Bird Sanctuary, are all within a one-day birding trip from Delhi.
In the winter, the village of Khedarh (near Barwala, Hissar district) has a large desert patch that is a sure spot for White-browed Bushchat — probably two individuals. Additional menu selections include Desert, Variable, and Isabelline Chats, as well as the possibility of seeing Sandgrouse species. On the 3rd of October 2002, a Rufuous-vented Prinia was discovered at Ottu Waterhead in Sirsa district. Ottu harbour boasts about 15,000 migratory water birds after a decent monsoon.
Karnataka is the third largest state in peninsular India. It is surrounded by Maharashtra to the north, Goa and the Arabian Sea to the west, Andhra Pradesh to the east and Tamil Nadu and Kerala to the south.
The state is blessed with one of the best forested regions of the country (more than 32,000sq km of forest cover). These are the Western Ghats, running parallel to the Arabian Sea coast on the west, along the length of the state.
The state enjoys a quite long winter and is a frequent stopover point for winter migrants. Bar-headed Geese can been seen in very big flocks in Mysore and some regions of north Karnataka. Karnataka also plays host to a large number of winter breeders like the Painted Stork, White Ibis, etc. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, situated about 80Kms from Mysore is one of the most active nesting areas.
Madhya Pradesh has a diverse landscape, yet over a third of the state is wooded. Dry thorn woods, tropical moist deciduous forests, and tropical evergreen forests are among the forest types. Reserve [for future logging] forest covers 58,733 km2, protected forest covers 35,586 km2, and unclassified forest covers 900 km2. There is little doubt that Madhya Pradesh’s natural beauty encompasses a diverse range of species, from tigers and leopards to antelopes and gazelles, as well as numerous mammals and reptiles and an abundance of bird life.
The state has a very rich avifauna with more than 500 species recorded from the state so far. If the subspecies are taken into account then the list is more than 540. Resident species 255; Local or International migrants 245; Stragglers or irregular visitors 40; Species known to be breeding 168; Species that breed in specific areas only 56; Species about which very little is known 87; Species about which knowledge is fairly good (e.g. Sparrows, Crows etc.) 25.Most of the Vagrants and Stragglers are marine species that are storm driven to the coast during the monsoon months. Most of the migrants are winter visitors; aquatic birds like ducks, geese, gulls, terns, cranes, flamingos, sandpipers etc. A number of harriers, cuckoos, swallows, warblers, chats, pipits and wagtails also arrive here in the cold season. Few species like Rain Quail, Pied-crested Cuckoo and Indian Pitta visit us at the beginning of the rainy season. Most of our bulbuls, babblers, sunbirds, munias, larks, woodpeckers, barbets, hornbills and owls are resident birds. Some birds are rare in the state being sighted only a few times (Ashy Minivet, Imperial Eagle, Scaup Duck, Pelican sp. etc.) There are birds that were thought to be extinct such as Forest Spotted Owlet Athene blewitti,, Jerdon’s Courser Cursorius bitorquatus and Pinkheaded Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea. Jerdonn’s Courser was rediscovered in the adjoining Andhra Pradesh (1986) and Forest Spotted Owlet was re-discovered in the Satpuda forests (1999).
The main birding habitats in the state can be broadly classified into forests, scrub & grass country, fresh water bodies, seashore, cultivated country and urban areas. About 22% of the total state area is under forest though true forest cover is hardly half of this area. Tropical Deciduous forest is the dominant vegetation type in the state. It is found all over the state in all divisions. Small pockets in the Western Ghats supports Evergreen and Semi Evergreen type. E.g. Bhimashankar, Matheran, Mahabaleshwar, Chandoli etc. Tropical thorn forest is the dominant type throughout the plateau area. Great Indian Bustard sanctuary is located within this belt.
Odisha or Orrisa as it used to be known, is a state located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. Chilka Lake, a brackish water coastal lake on the Bay of Bengal, south of the mouth of the Mahanadi River, is the largest coastal lake in India. It is protected by the Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary, which harbors over 150 migratory and resident species of birds.
Rajasthan is home to a wide range of bird species. In the state, almost 450 species can be found. National parks/sanctuaries, water bodies, grasslands, and river bottoms all provide excellent bird viewing opportunities. The Department of Forests is in charge of 28 national parks and sanctuaries in the state. The Keoladeo National Park, near Bharatpur, offers the best opportunities for bird watching. A day visit to this 29-square-kilometer area, of which around 6 square kilometres is water, can yield 100 species. Open-billed Storks, Painted Storks, Herons, Egrets, Spoonbills, Ibis, Kingfishers, Jacanas, Cotton Teal, Comb Duck, and Whistling Duck are just a few of the resident bird species.
Thousands of migratory ducks and geese, as well as waders, warblers, and other forest/land species, flock to its shallow lakes in the winter. Harriers, eagles, buzzards, falcons, kites, and Shikra are among the raptor species found in the park. Until around five years ago, vultures were a common sight here. Keoladeo National Park is one of Rajasthan’s two Ramsar Sites.
There is a great variety and abundance of the resident bird life, making this area arguably one of the richest areas of its size anywhere in the world. Dr Salim Ali – one of India’s foremost ornithologists has recorded 527 species of resident birds. In addition there are vagrants, and transients on migration. It is estimated that more than 30 percent of the species of the Indian Sub continent can be spotted in this region.
The State of Uttarakhand, formerly known as Uttaranchal is a state in the northern part of India. Uttarakhand has a diversity of flora and fauna. It has a recorded forest area of 34,666 km2 which constitutes 65% of the total area of the state. Uttarakhand is home to rare species of plants and animals, many of which are protected by sanctuaries and reserves. National parks in Uttarakhand include the Jim Corbett National Park (the oldest national park of India) at Ramnagar in Nainital District, and Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park in Chamoli District, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A number of plant species in the valley are internationally threatened, including several that have not been recorded from elsewhere in Uttarakhand. Rajaji National Park in Haridwar District and Govind Pashu Vihar National Park and Sanctuary and Gangotri National Park in Uttarkashi District are some other protected areas in the state.
This rich multitude of forest habitats supports an enormous diversity of bird life. Over 600 species have been recorded from this small state, which include residents, summer migrants from peninsular India and as far as north Africa, passage & winter migrants form the Palaearctic region & vagrants from adjoining areas. Although forested areas all over the state offer plenty of scope for bird watching, favourite birders’ destinations are a number of large protected areas some of the best places to watch birds in India.
West Bengal is an Indian state, located in Eastern India on the Bay of Bengal.
This telescoping of terrain has created marked altitudinal zonation in the humidity, rainfall, climate and vegetation. This factor is responsible for the great variety and abundance of the resident bird life, making this area arguably one of the richest areas of its size anywhere in the world. Dr Salim Ali -one of India’s foremost ornithologists has recorded 527 species of resident birds. In addition there are vagrants, and transients on migration. It is estimated that more than 30% of the species of the Indian Sub continent can be seen in this region.
The main towns in this region are Gangtok in Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong in the mountains of North Bengal, and Silguri in the plains of North Bengal. The nearest airport is at Bagdogra near Siliguri in the plains.