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India Bird Watching

India’s 10 Most Beautiful Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise belong to the family Paradisaeidae and are usually associated with the countries of Papua New Guinea and Eastern Australia.

There are 42 species in this family of birds.

Asia is not far behind with a vast array of spectacular looking birds with their elaborate plumages, voices and courtship displays.

We make an attempt to draw our very own list of the 10 Most Beautiful Birds of Paradise from India :

1. Indian Paradise Flycatcher:
Terpsiphone paradisi

The Indian Paradise Flycatcher is a commonly occurring bird around most protected areas of India, save for arid and mountainous regions of India.

Lesser Florican

The long white ribbon-like tail flutters in the wind as it swiftly flies between the canopy. Younger males also have long ribbon like tails at maturity, however they can also develop a reddish morph.

Females have the reddish-orange morph throughout with a pale throat, and lack the long tail.

Not a bird which sticks around for too long, they are best seen in the summer time when they are out to court the females.

The drier jungle canopy also makes for better circumstances for seeing these birds.

Best Places to see Indian Paradise Flycatcher in India:
• Panna National Park, India
• The Terrai Belt, India
• Inner Terai Belt, Nepal

2. The Indian Peafowl:
Pavo cristatus

The Indian Peafowl is a common but extravagant species, much celebrated but probably not appreciated enough due to its vast distribution and common occurrence across the lowlands of India.

The Indian Peafowl is the National Bird of India, highly protected under law.

During the mating season in summer, the purple coloured males have gained their plumage and indulge in an entrancing mating dance.

They display it with aplomb in which the gathered females watch closely, not giving too much away, due to stiff competition at all times.

Females do not have the striking plumage of the males, and are more dull with a green coloured neck – in keeping with the need to blend in with surroundings during the nesting period.

The males can indulge in severe and gruesome fights, in the hopes of driving each other away from their harem.

Best Places to see the Peacock in India:

• All protected areas except mountainous and desert regions
3. Himalayan Monal
Lophophorus impejanus

This gorgeous bird is found in the Himalayan Forests between 2100m to 4500m above sea level.

Lesser Florican

The iridescent blue colour of the male along with the orange and green liken it to a peacock – however they are grossly different.

The female is brown in colour with heavy white streaked on its breast and barring on the wings.

Their breeding season is the summer, and coveys or congregations of birds can be seen up in the alpine meadows or plateaus.

Usually a shy bird, there are certain areas where they tolerate the presence of man – especially during the Summer.

Best Places to see the Himalayan Monal in India:

• Chopta Valley, Uttarakhand
• Tungnath, Uttarakhand
• Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary, Sikkim

4. Malabar Trogon:
Harpactes fasciatus

This Tropical Bird is found in moist forests of South India and Sri Lanka.

The Malabar Trogon is a striking species with a beautiful long and broad tail.

Males have a black head, blue eye ring & beak, bright red chest with a white ring around its neck. The wings are black and the outer part of the tail is chestnut.

The Females are dissimilar, they have a brown head, blue eye ring & beak with a chestnut coloured front.

These insectivorous birds flitter through the canopy and despite the colour, are difficult to spot at times.

A unique feature about Trogons is that their inner toes or inner digits are turned backward.

Best Places to see the Malabar Trogon`in India:

• Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala
• Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary & Molem National Park, Goa

5. Rufous Necked Hornbill
Aceros nipalensis

India is home to 09 species of Hornbills, all of them are beautiful. However, the Rufous Necked Hornbill which occurs in the North East of India is a real dazzler.

These omnivorous birds feed on a variety of vertebrates and invertebrates, and a huge range of fruits hence their importance to conservation of forests as seed dispersers is unparalleled.

They are sexually dimorphous. The males have a striking rufous mane. Rufous head, chest and belly with black wings.

The female is also striking with an all-black body. Both sexes have a bright orange gular puch, and shiny blue eye patches. The bills are large and have vertical slits running parallel across the upper mandible.

They resemble Mayan warriors and are just a treat to watch and photograph.

Best Places to see the Rufous Necked Hornbill in India:

• Nameri National Park, Assam
• Mishmi Hills, Arunachal Pradesh
• Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh

6. Long-tailed Broadbill
Psarisomus dalhousiae

Also known as the “Helmet Bird”, this adorable species occurs in the foothills of the Himalayas and the Forested regions of the Terai.

It is the only bird in the genus Psarisomus.

Its wings and front are green coloured and it has a blue tail. Its face is yellow with the famed black helmet which covers over half its face. A characteristic yellow patch around the ear is clearly visible as well.

This bird moves in flocks, thus ensuring safety in numbers. They can also be seen in mixed hunting flock, foraging in the forest.

They are primarily insectivorous and can feed on lizards, spiders and frogs as well.

Though found in flocks, they are hard to see and blend in with the foliage brilliantly.

Best Places to see the Long Tailed Broadbill in India:

• Pangot, Uttarakhand
• Sattal, Uttarakhand
• Mahanda Wildlife Sanctuary, West Bengal
• Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh
7. Fire-tailed Sunbird
Aethopyga ignicauda

The Fire-tailed Sunbird is another Himalayan Beauty which resides in the North and North-eastern forests of India.

Lesser Florican

The occur at altitudes of 1100m upto 4000m above sea level. They usually descend into the valleys during the winter.

The fully grown males are most easily distinguishable due to their fiery red tail streamers. A bright yellow chest and while belly are covered by the greyish coloured wings and the fiery red is resumed at the back and nape of the bird.

Females are rarely distinguishable from the females of the other Sunbird species of India, maintaining their placed green colour throughout.

Best Places to see the Fire-tailed Sunbird in India:

• Sela Pass, Arunachal Pradesh
• Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, Sikkim
• Barsey Rhodendron Forest, Sikkim
8. Black Baza:
Aviceda leuphotes

Birds of prey are usually not associated with pretty looks, but the Black Baza is a real looker!

It is comparatively a small bird of prey, of Length upto 35 cm, with a Wingspan upto 80cm.

This handsome bird is completely black in colour with a black crest. It has a white patch on its throat with white and chestnut brown barrings on the chest and belly. The ends of the outer parts of the wing are speckled with white and chestnut.

They breed in the evergreen forests of North-East India and visit the Peninsular Indian forests in the winter.

They feed on small vertebrates and invertebrates.

Best Places to see the Black Baza in India:

• South Andaman, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
• Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal
• Tinsukia, Assam
• Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala(winter)
• Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh(winter)
9. Beautiful Nuthatch:
Sitta Formosa

A large sized Nuthatch of 16 cm length, it is a strikingly beautiful bird from the Eastern Himalayas.

The colours and patterns are very distinctive azure, black and white patterns with the blue striking out clearly. The orange belly contrasts against the intricate patterns above.

The Beautiful Nuthatch is seen foraging on tall trees, and in mixed hunting flocks at altitudes of 950m to 2300m above sea level.

They make their nests in tree hollows. They are insectivorous, creeping on the barks of trees to eke out the caterpillars and insects present inside or amongst the leaves.

Not an easy bird to spot, it provides much excitement when sighted.

Best Places to see the Beautiful Nuthatch in India:

• Mishmi Hills, Arunachal Pradesh
• Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh

10. Indian Pitta:
Pitta brachyura

The word “Pitta” comes from the Telugu word, meaning small bird. They breed in the Himalayan Foothills and are summer visitors to Peninsular India.

They are locally referred to as “Navrang” because of the variety of colours on their body.

Its head is buffy with a black line in the middle and a black eye stripe. The white throat joins its buffy belly and underparts and concludes in a red vent. It has long legs relative to its body, and a short blue tail.

Its upper parts are green, with an electric blue shoulder patch. A white patch is also visible on its wings while in flight.

These birds are seen calling vociferously perched on trees, wit their characteristic Two-noted whistle which sounds like a slowed down version of the “whistle wolf”.

They are insectivorous and are often seen amongst the leaf litter on the ground, picking up the fallen leaves in search of insects and caterpillars.

Best Places to see the Indian Pitta in India:

• Any protected Central Indian Deciduous Forest(summer) : Kanha National Park, Pench National Park etc
• Any Protected Area in South India(summer)

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