Endemic Birds of India

India falls under the Oriental Zoogeographical Region of the World.

This region includes the Indian Subcontinent, Southern China, Malaysia, Philippines, and the islands of and around Indonesia.

The majority of the areas denoted under this region are Tropical Forests, with considerable dry and partially desert areas in the North-western region where highly specialised adaptions are seen in species.

Species overlap in these regions across various orders and families, yet the taxonomical difference between them is not very dissimilar.

This variety in ecosystems results in India being one of the Worlds most Important Bird Areas – as is verified in the number of IBA’s & Ramsar Sites designated in India.

Number of Endemic Birds in India
No. of Ramsar Sites
Number of bird species recorded in India (both residential & migrant)
Number of Important Birding Areas ( IBAs ) in the country.

List of Endemic Bird Species found only in India

Extinct Birds of India

Natural History is fascinating, to know what creatures walked the very land that we presently roam, in the years that have gone by, makes one really wonder about what we really know about life. South Asia’s Tropical Forests are unique, and a huge variety of habitats and inhabitants are a matter of great importance in these parts.

The 20th Century has seen a majority of the forests disappear as population and industrialisation growth actively results into, and with it, various beautiful species.

There are a few examples of species which have gone extinct in the recent past in India, and a few too many which are on the brink of extinction as the populations of India unrelentingly goes past 1.3 billion people and a 5 trillion dollar economy. Although the following birds are not yet declared extinct due to reasonable doubt and criterion for declaration of the same, it has been long years without any evidence of their survival.

Pink Headed Duck

(Rhodonessa caryophyllacea)

The Pink-headed Duck, is a most beautiful waterfowl, and as with all things that shine, they are mercilessly extracted by the human race for their personal pleasure.

This shy yet striking bird existed in the wetlands of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal as well as the Northern and Eastern reaches of India. Although there are records in Peninsular India as well. It is thought to have bred amongst the marshy terrain of North-east India.

These birds inhabited swamps, grasslands and floodplains. Their occurrence was observed to be quite rare to begin with, and was observed that it preferred to be hidden amongst the well-covered areas rather than in the open lakes and rivers.

Their bodies are dark brown and necks long, with a pink head – which is much brighter in the males. Their bills and feet are pink-coloured as well.

Hunting was the main cause for the rapid decline as the Pink-headed duck was a prized catch amongst all waterfowl, subsequent habitat destruction due to the advent of agriculture was the death knell.

There are yet adventures by ornithologists and birders to find the Pink-headed Duck where there have been reported though unconfirmed sightings.

Enthusiast Mr.Richard Thorns from the United Kingdom has led several expeditions in the Kachin State near the Indawgyi River in Northern Myanmar and continues to do so today, thought without any luck just yet.

The difficult and undisturbed terrain of the area provides hope as do the hearsay sightings of the bird.

Himalayan Quail

(Ophrysia superciliosa)

Recorded at altitudes between 1650m and 2400m above sea level, this rarely occurring bird is believed to have existed in the Western Himalayas with several records from the state of Uttarakhand. Nainital and Mussoorie – now extensively commercialized hill-stations of the state show the highest incidence of the Himalayan Quail, which was hunted for its meat.

There are reports from Nepal as well, though unconfirmed.

Larger than its counterparts, the Himalayan Quail has a dark body and distinctive white spot near the eye, red bill and legs. Its tail is also believed to be slightly longer than other quails. The body of the male is darker than that of the female. Both have a visible supercilium.

They are recorded as being present in small flocks of 5-10 individuals or in pairs and prefer to inhabit grassland areas, feeding on the seeds. Retreating to hollows of the slopes in the heat of the day, they were often shot in such habitat by game hunters.

Migratory patterns, if any, are not clear, as sightings were limited during the monsoon season, with the increasing height and density of the grassland.

These birds do not take to flight easily and remain under cover until the very last moment – preferring to remain still in light of the danger. Their secretive nature is another factor in such few reports and it is considered that they were not a very common bird, to begin with, at least in the age of advent in the area.

Manipur Bush Quail

(Perdicula manipurensis)

Listed as “Endangered” by IUCN, the Manipur Bush Quail is said to have inhabited the grasslands of East India in West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Manipur.

Its colour is slaty grey, with a buff belly with cross-like markings on its feathers and belly. Its legs are orange. The male has a chestnut-brown colour on its face, which is absent from the female. Game hunting and habitat destruction is said to have wiped out these birds, despite their existence which was said to be rather common in some areas.

The birds existed in coveys of 4-5 individuals. They fed on insects and seeds.

Despite a recent sighting from a reputable source in 2006 at Manas National Park in Assam, there is no conclusive evidence that the bird still survives.

Locals, once made aware of the birds importance, have reported sightings around agricultural areas close by to forests.