Top 5 Migratory Birds in India

Bird migration refers to the regular seasonal movement of birds between their breeding and non-breeding (wintering) grounds. Many species of birds undertake long-distance migrations, traveling thousands of kilometers each year to reach their wintering grounds in search of food, a better climate, and breeding opportunities.

Birds migrate to India for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. Wintering grounds: Many species of birds that breed in northern latitudes, such as Europe and Asia, migrate to India to escape the harsh winters and take advantage of the milder climate and abundant food resources.
  2. Breeding grounds: Some species of birds that breed in southern latitudes, such as Africa, migrate to India to take advantage of the summer breeding season in the northern hemisphere.
  3. Food availability: India is home to a wide range of wetland habitats, such as lakes, rivers, and coastal areas, that provide important feeding grounds for many migratory bird species, particularly waterfowl.
  4. Geographic location: India is located along the Central Asian Flyway, which is a major migratory route for birds that extends from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean. This means that many migratory bird species pass through or over India on their way to their wintering or breeding grounds.

 

Some of the birds that migrate to India are-

 

  1. Ruddy Shelduck

The Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) is a waterfowl species belonging to the Anatidae family. The heads and necks of ruddy shelducks are a striking shade of rusty orange, while the rest of their bodies are a pale gray. They have a big, pointed beak and orange-colored legs and feet. These are medium-sized birds, measuring 58-70 cm (23-28 in) in length and 110-135 cm (43-53 in) in wingspan (43-53 in). Ruddy shelducks inhabit many wetland environments, such as lakes, rivers, and marshes, as well as agricultural fields and grasslands. They generally consume plant matter, such as grasses, seeds, and roots, in addition to aquatic invertebrates.

 

Ruddy Shelduck flying over the water

 

Here is some information about the migration of Ruddy Shelduck to India:

  • Time of migration: The exact timing of their migration can vary, but they typically arrive in India in November or December and stay until March or April, before heading back to their breeding grounds.
  • Place of migration to and from: Indian subcontinent is one of the main wintering areas for ruddy shelducks, which are migratory birds. The birds move south to spend the winter in India and other South Asian nations after breeding in central and southern Europe, Central Asia, and portions of China.
  • Where to find in India: In India, some of the best places to spot ruddy shelducks during their winter migration include Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, Sultanpur National Park in Haryana, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Rajasthan, Chilika Lake in Odisha, Pong Dam Lake in Himachal Pradesh

 

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2. Bar-headed Geese

Bar-headed Geese are a waterfowl species that breeds in the high-altitude areas of Central Asia and migrates to India for the winter. Medium-sized waterfowl, reaching up to 71 cm in length and weighing up to 2.5 kg, are Bar-headed Geese. They are recognized for their ability to fly at great altitudes and the striking black-and-white patterns on their heads and necks. They can fly across the Himalayas and reach altitudes of up to 9,000 feet.

 

Bar Headed Geese migratory bird in India

 

Here is some information about the migration of Bar-headed Geese to India:

  • Time of migration: Bar-headed Geese typically begin their migration in late September to early October, and arrive in India by November. They stay in India until around March or April, before returning to their breeding grounds in the north.
  • Place of migration to and from: As Bar-headed Geese move from their breeding grounds in Central Asia to their wintering grounds in India, they may be seen in a range of habitats, such as lakes, rivers, marshes, and agricultural fields. The wetlands of Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, the Dal Lake in Jammu and Kashmir, and the Bhagirathi River in Uttarakhand are a few of the main wintering locations for Bar-headed Geese in India.
  • Where to find in India: Bar-headed Geese can be found in a variety of habitats in India during the winter months, including lakes, rivers, wetlands, and agricultural fields. Some of the key wintering sites for Bar-headed Geese in India include the wetlands of Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, the Dal Lake in Jammu and Kashmir, and the Bhagirathi River in Uttarakhand.

 

3. Northern Pintail

The Northern pintail is a species of dabbling duck that breeds in the arctic regions of Eurasia and North America and winters in India. Medium-sized ducks, reaching up to 60 cm in length and weighing up to 800 grams, are northern pintails. They have long necks and bills, as well as identifying marks on their heads and wings. Females have a mottled brown and white look, whilst males have a chocolate-brown head and a white neck with a faint black stripe. Long necks and pointed wings distinguish northern pintails in flight, making them easily recognized.

 

Northern Pintail Duck

 

Here is some information about the migration of Northern pintail to India:

  • Time of migration: Northern pintails typically begin their migration from their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere in September and October, and arrive in India by November. They stay in India until around February or March, before returning to their breeding grounds.
  • Place of migration to and from: A range of habitats, including marshes, lakes, and paddy fields, are where northern pintails may be found throughout their migration from their breeding grounds in the northern regions of Eurasia and North America to their wintering grounds in India. The Chilika Lake in Odisha, the wetlands of Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, and the Dal Lake in Jammu and Kashmir are a few of the important wintering locations for Northern pintails in India.
  • Where to find in India: Northern pintails can be found in a variety of habitats in India during the winter months, including wetlands, lakes, and paddy fields. Some of the key wintering sites for Northern pintails in India include Chilika Lake in Odisha, the wetlands of Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, and the Dal Lake in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

4. Eurasian Teal

A tiny species of dabbling duck that breeds in northern Eurasia and migrates to India in the winter is the Eurasian teal, commonly referred to as the common teal. Eurasian teal is tiny ducks that may reach a length of 35 cm and a weight of 350 grams. They have a distinguishing green patch on their head, a breast that is chestnut in hue, and a body that is mottled with brown and white. The Eurasian teal is renowned for its swift flight and for its capacity to dive and swim underwater in order to feed on aquatic invertebrates and plants.

 

Eurasian teal in its natural enviroment in Denmark

 

Here is some information about the migration of Eurasian teal to India:

  • Time of migration: Eurasian teal typically begins their migration from their breeding grounds in northern Eurasia in August and September, and arrive in India by October and November. They stay in India until around February or March, before returning to their breeding grounds.
  • Place of migration to and from: Eurasian teal are migratory birds that travel from their breeding grounds in northern Eurasia to their wintering grounds in India. Their habitats include wetlands, marshes, and rice fields. The wetlands of Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, Chilika Lake in Odisha, and the Bhagirathi River in Uttarakhand are a few of the important wintering locations for Eurasian teal in India.
  • Where to find in India: Eurasian teal can be found in a variety of wetland habitats in India during the winter months, including marshes, lakes, and paddy fields. Some of the key wintering sites for Eurasian teal in India include the wetlands of Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, Chilika Lake in Odisha, and the Bhagirathi River in Uttarakhand.

 

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5. Pied Avocet

With its striking blue-grey legs, long, thin beak, and black and white plumage, the Pied Avocet stands out among other wading birds. It migrates to India during the winter after breeding in Europe and Asia. A medium-sized wading bird, the pied avocet may reach a length of 45 cm and a wingspan of 75 cm. They have a characteristic upturned beak and black and white plumage, which they employ to collect tiny crustaceans in shallow water. During their migration to India, Pied Avocets may be observed gathering in huge groups and are well-known for their beautiful and nimble flying.

 

Pied Avocet migratory birds flying in India

 

Here is some information about the migration of Pied Avocets to India:

  • Time of migration: Pied Avocets typically begin their migration from their breeding grounds in Europe and Asia in August and September, and arrive in India by October and November. They stay in India until around February or March, before returning to their breeding grounds.
  • Place of migration to and from: Pied Avocets travel from their breeding locations in Europe and Asia to their wintering locations in India, where they may be found in a range of habitats such as coastal mudflats, salt pans, and lagoons. The Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, Chilika Lake in Odisha, and Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu are a few of the major Pied Avocet wintering locations in India.
  • Where to find in India: Pied Avocets can be found in a variety of wetland habitats in India during the winter months, including coastal mudflats, salt pans, and lagoons. Some of the key wintering sites for Pied Avocets in India include the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, the Chilika Lake in Odisha, and the Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu.

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