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Best Birding Destinations of India

Top 15 Birding destinations in India

India’s diverse landscapes are a haven for birdlife from vibrant feathers and fluttering wings. Consisting of soaring Himalayan eagles to colorful flocks in coastal wetlands, this list uncovers the top 15 birding destinations, a treasure trove for nature enthusiasts!

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Rajasthan

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Rajasthan

The Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, also known as Keoladeo National Park, is a world-famous bird sanctuary and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to over 370 species of birds, including resident and migratory birds. Some migratory birds you can see here are Great White Pelicans, Bar- headed Goose and Siberian cranes. Resident birds include painted storks, black- necked stork and sarus crane.

The best time to visit the Bharatpur is during the winter season (October to March) when the weather is pleasant, and the migratory birds are present. You can explore the park on foot, bicycle, or rickshaw.

Sattal, Uttarakhand

Birding in Sattal Uttarakhand

Hidden amidst the lower Himalayas in Uttarakhand is Sattal, a cluster of seven interlinked freshwater lakes forming a paradise for birdwatchers. The diverse landscape and temperate climate attract a rich variety of resident and migratory birds.

Some exotic birds spotted here include Himalayan Griffon vulture, Common Hawk-cuckoo, Slaty-headed Parakeet, Kalij pheasant, Brown wood owl, black francolin, Rufous-chinned laughingthrush and more. The winter season (December-January) is ideal for spotting birds migrating from the upper Himalayas, while spring (April-May) showcases birds in their breeding plumage.

Little Rann of Kutch

flamingo in Little Rann of Kutch

The Little Rann of Kutch is a vast seasonal wetland in Gujarat, India. It’s one of the largest wildlife sanctuary in India and is famous for its abundance of birds. The sanctuary boasts over 400 species of birds, including rare species like lesser flamingo, demoiselle crane, common crane, Indian Sandgrouse, MacQueen’s Bustard.

The best time to visit the Little Rann of Kutch for birdwatching is from November to February.  During this time, the monsoons have filled the area with water, creating an ideal rest stop for resident and migratory birds. The vast mudflats teem with shrimp, attracting a spectacular flamingo migration.

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Thattekad Birds in India

Looking for an isolated adventure in a scenic location for birdwatching? Then Thattekad Bird sanctuary is your best bet! It is located amidst the picturesque Western Ghats, with a rich tapestry of evergreen forests, marshes, and small streams. This diverse habitat attracts a vibrant bird population.

The prime time to visit is between October and March. The cooler weather and dry season makes birdwatching more comfortable and coincides with the peak season for migratory birds. Early mornings are generally the best time to spot birds when they are most active.

Over 500 species of resident and migratory birds reside here. A few of the many feathered beauties you might encounter include Indian Pitta, Ceylon Frogmouth, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, black baza, drone cuckoo and Indian paradise flycatcher.

Nameri National Park, Assam

Surrounded by dense forests, grasslands, and rivers gives birth to a rich habitat for over 380 avian species in Nameri National Park. If you want to maximise on your chance of bird watching, plan a visit during the cool and dry winters, ideally between November and March. This coincides with comfortable birding weather and the arrival of migratory marvels like Amur Falcons and the majestic Pallas’s Fish Eagle.

Some endangered beauties found in Nameri are the White-winged wood duck and hornbill species like the Wreathed and Rufous-necked. Other residential birds residing here are kingfishers, babblers, and the Ibisbill, a bird with a uniquely curved beak.

Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Goa

The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Goa, named after the famed Indian ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali, is a harbour for birdwatchers. It is Goa’s only bird sanctuary and it protects a small but vital area of estuarine mangrove forests, which provide a critical breeding and feeding ground for birds.

More than 470 feathered friends reside here. Resident stars like White egrets, drongos, woodpeckers, blue-tailed bee-eaters, black kites, and jungle mynas call this place home. Migratory marvels like coots, pintail ducks, and maybe even rarer finds like the little bittern or red knot can be spotted in the winter.

Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh

Amidst Arunachal Pradesh, Namdapha National Park is a biodiversity hotspot boasting the eastern Himalayas’ northernmost lowland evergreen rainforests. There is an avian abundance in Namdapha boasting over 400 bird species.

The endangered stars consist of the rare White-winged Wood Duck and hornbill species like the Wreathed and Rufous-necked. Be on the lookout of imposing raptors like the Forest Eagle Owl with its piercing yellow eyes and the Mountain Hawk-Eagle soaring on high.

Colorful characters: like Satyr Tragopan and the Kalij pheasant with its vibrant plumage are also sighted here. You may be able to witness winter visitors like the Amur Falcon, known for its incredible long-distance migrations.

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, a lush 14-hectare breathtaking park on the banks of Kerala’s Vembanad Lake, is one of the best places for bird enthusiasts. Explore the sanctuary by foot or boat for the best birding experience.

Winter birds like Siberian crane, the graceful darter, and a variety of gulls, teals, and tern migrate from faraway lands like Siberia and the Himalayas. The peak season for these birds in between November to February.

Some local favorites at Kumarakon involve waterfowls, herons, egrets, owls, koels, and the unmistakable water hen. They can be spotted in the breeding season of June to August.

Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttarakhand

Hike through the dense forests on well-maintained trails or visit designated birdwatching spots for a focused search at Binsar wildlife sanctuary. With its diverse birdlife and stunning Himalayan backdrop, Binsar offers a mesmerizing birding experience.      

During winter (February to April), spot migratory birds like flycatchers and bulbuls adding to the avian symphony. It is also the breeding season for resident species like Himalayan bulbuls, thrushes and nuthatches.

October to November is the peak season for migratory birds. Keep an eye out for pheasants like the brightly colored Kalij pheasant and the koklass pheasant with its striking black and white markings.

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, Haryana

If you are looking for a quite escape from Delhi, the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, located near Gurgaon, Haryana, is an ideal spot for birdwatchers. The park offers walking trails, perfect for exploring the diverse habitats and birdwatching opportunities.

The winter season of October to February brings pleasant weather and migratory birds flocking here from Siberia, Central Asia, and Europe. Over 250 bird species visit or call Sultanpur home. Siberian cranes, greater flamingos, black-winged stilts visit the park yearly. Keep an eye out for local birds like ducks, pelicans, cormorants, egrets, and even the elusive Indian nightjar.

Mangalajodi, Odisha

Bird In Mangalajodi Odisha

Mangalajodi is a village located on the northern banks of Chilika Lake in Odisha, India, and an ideal, quite place for bird watchers. The vast wetlands of Mangalajodi attract thousands of migratory birds, especially during peak season, (November to March), with with over 150,000 birds.

Get completely immersed in this authentic experience by discovering the Odisha culture, boat rides and learning about the birds from the locals.    Birds like openbill storks, greylag geese, Brahminy ducks, spot-billed pelicans Eurasian spoonbills are sighted here.

This transformation from a village reliant on poaching to one that protects its avian treasures makes Mangalajodi a truly special place. The villagers, many of whom were once poachers, are now trained guides who lead tourists on bird watching tours. It’s a beautiful example of how conservation efforts can not only protect wildlife but also create a sustainable livelihood for local communities.

Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat

Nal Sarovar Bird In india

A hidden jewel near Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary is an astounding place for bird enthusiasts. The largest permanent freshwater lake in Gujarat forms a sprawling wetland and transforms into a vibrant tapestry of colors during the winter months.

One of the most distinctive features of Nal Sarovar is the way visitors can explore the sanctuary. Usually, jeeps or guided walks are the norm, here you can explore via country boats steered by local Padhar communities.

This unique combination of a rich birdlife and a traditional boating experience makes Nal Sarovar an unforgettable destination for nature lovers. More than 250 species reside here including greater and lesser Flamingos, pelicans, storks and egrets.

Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary, located near Chennai, is the second-largest brackish water lagoon in India. The brackish water, a unique mix of freshwater and saltwater, creates a rich ecosystem that attracts a diverse range of birds. More than 150 species of birds like ducks, teals, herons, egrets, Openbill Storks, Pelicans and Greater Flamingos visit or stay in the sanctuary.

The cooler temperatures in October to March and abundant food sources makes the place an attractive stopover for feathered visitors. The historical blend of Fort Geldria built by the Dutch and the Dutch colonial heritage adds to Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary’s beauty.

Khijadia Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat

White breasted kingfisher in Khijadia bird sanctuary

Khijadia spans over 600 hectares of marshlands and mangroves and provides a crucial habitat for over 310 stunning variety of birds. Plan your trip between November and February in the peak season for migratory birds.

Khijadia’s unique distinction lies in being recognized as a Ramsar Site, a wetland of international importance for maintaining ecological balance and biodiversity. Explore the network of nature trails or take a boat ride on the serene Jawahar Sagar Lake for a truly immersive experience.

The nearby Khijadiya village, recently awarded the title of “Jamnagar-Best Tourism Village 2023,” further enhances the charm of this sanctuary, allowing visitors to experience the local culture alongside the natural wonders. 

Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary, Maharashtra

Indian Pond Heron in Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary

Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary, cushioned near Pune, is a perfect place for birdwatchers, particularly to spot the graceful flamingo. The Greater Flamingos, with their rosy plumage, gather in large numbers, creating a breathtaking sight. These elegant creatures prefer shallow waters for feeding during the winter months.

The backwaters of the Ujani Dam create a vibrant ecosystem teeming with birdlife especially between December to March. Over 300 species have been recorded at Bhigwan including Black Ibis, Indian Thick- knee, Pied Avocet and Painted Storks.

It was once a place known for bird poaching, but the local communities have now become guardians of this avian paradise by leading boat tours, promoting sustainable tourism and ensuring the birds’ well-being.

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