10 Must Visit Bird Parks In India
1. Keoladeo/Bharatpur National Park (Rajasthan)200 kms from Delhi
Best time to visit - October to March
Keoladeo is a man made wetland with many seasonal lagoons that fill up during the monsoons. The receeding water in thewinters creating various habitats such as dry grasslands, swamps and wetlands attracting thousands of birds every winter. Keoladeo is one of the best birding areas in the world. Over 370 species of birds, 50 species of fish, 12 species of snakes and 7 species of turtles are found here. The park has high density of birds throughout the year and winters is the best time for migratory bird spotting. The park can be explored on cycles, cycle rickshaws or on foot. There are guides to help you out. The rare Siberian cranes used to winter in this park but this central population of Siberian cranes is now extinct. The migratory birds are Asian open billed stork, Tufted duck, Little Cormorant, Painted shoveler, Cotton teal, Ruff, Darter, Sarus crane etc. Among landbirds are a rich assortment consisting of warblers, babblers, bee-eaters, bulbuls, buntings, chats, partridges and quails. The Indian grey hornbill and Marshall's iora are also present. There are many birds of prey including the osprey, peregrine, Pallas' sea eagle, short-toed eagle, tawny eagle, imperial eagle, spotted eagle and crested serpent eagle.
2. Kaziranga & Manas National park (Assam)200 kms from Guwahati
Best time to visit - November - March
Kaziranaga National Park known as the World heritage site, although known for the great one-horned rhinoceroses has also been recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International for conservation of avifaunal species. It is home to a variety of migratory birds, water birds, predators, scavengers, and game birds. Birds such as the lesser white-fronted goose, ferruginous duck, Baer's pochard duck and lesser adjutant, greater adjutant, black-necked stork, and Asian openbill stork migrate from Central Asia to the park during winter. Riverine birds include the Blyth's kingfisher, white-bellied heron, Dalmatian pelican, spot-billed pelican, Nordmann's greenshank, and black-bellied tern. Birds of prey include the rare eastern imperial, greater spotted, white-tailed, Pallas's fish eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, and the lesser kestrel. Home to over 6 species of vultures only 2-3 remain now. Game birds seen here are the swamp francolin, Bengal florican, and pale-capped pigeon.
3. Thattekad Bird Sanctuary & Munnar (Kerala)60 kms from Kochi
Best time to visit - October - March
Thattekad is the first bird sanctuary in Kerala. Founded by Dr Salim Ali the sanctuary has over 280 species of birds. The sanctuary is a habitat for different varieties of cuckoos and a region of the sanctuary popularly called "Cuckoo Paradise". The famous Ceylon Frogmouth is also seen here. The Indian pitta, which visits the sanctuary during winter and spends almost six months here. Take a ride over an elephant's back along elephant trainer or hire a Jeep to move around. Rare birds as sunbird, shrike, fairy blue-bird, grey-headed fishing eagle etc can be spotted here. Beware of leeches, so use leech socks if planning to walk around. Munnar is 70 kms from Thattekad. Sightings of endemics like the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Nilgiri Pipit, Greyheaded Bulbul, Black & Orange Flycatcher, Broadtailed Grassbird, Crimsonbacked Sunbird, Greybreasted Laughing Thrush, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Indian Rufous Babbler, Whitebellied Blue Flycatcher, Whitebellied Shortwing, Whitebellied Treepie & the Wyanad Laughing Thrush can be the highlights of a birding trip to Munnar & surroundings.
4. Chilika lake (Odisha)
100 kms from Bhuvaneshwar
Best time to visit - October - March
Chilika lake is the largest coastal lagoon in India. The brackish water supports over 130 rare and endangered Irrawady dolphins apart form fish and other marine life. During the migratory season birds fly in from Russia and the Caspian sea. The lake has many small islands which has lots of birds including the spoon billed sandpiper, white ibis, grey lag goose, etc. The six main islands of Berhpura, Nalbana, Nuapada, Parikud, Phulbari and Tamapara offers promising sightings of birds. Apart from Birding the other activities here include fishing, angling and boating. Nalbana has sightings of flamingoes, pelicans, storks etc. A permit from the Forest dept is reqd to visit here as well as one take a boat ride of 2 hours from Barkul in Bhuvaneshwar to Nalbana. The local boatmen act as guides. irrawady dolphins are sighted best from Dumkudi and Somolo islands, and from Satapada village which is at the mouth of the lake.
5. Pangot, Sattal & Jim Corbet (Uttarakhand)330 kms from Delhi
Best time to visit - October to March
The Nainital area lies in the central Himalayas and is a vantage point to view the great Nanda Devi massif. The area and its surrounding hills has a record of 200+ Himalayan bird species. Look out for Red-billed Blue Magpie, Eurasian Jay, Black-headed Jay, Rufous Sibia, Streaked Laughingthrush, Crested Kingfisher and Collared Owlet. Do not miss Cheer Pheasant, Koklass Pheasant and Khaleej Pheasant here in Pangot. Sattal apart from the 7 beautiful lakes has more to offer like rey-hooded Warblers, Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Green-backed Tits and Blue-throated Barbets, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrushesand more Corbet National park has over 500 species of Birds both resident and migratory. Some include the crested serpent eagle, blossom-headed parakeet and the red junglefowl — ancestor of all domestic fowl.
6. Tal Chappar (Rajasthan)
210 kms from Jaipur
Best time to visit - September to March
Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is a sanctuary located in the Churu district of Rajasthan. It is well known for blackbucks. It is a flat saline depression locally known as a "tal" that has a unique ecosystem in the heart of the Thar Desert. The sanctuary area is mostly covered by grasses with a very few trees. It lies on the passage way of many migratory birds such as harriers. These birds pass through this area during September. Birds commonly seen in the sanctuary are harriers, eastern imperial eagle, tawny eagle, short-toed eagle, sparrow, and little green bee-eaters, black ibis and demoiselle cranes, which stay till March. Skylarks, crested larks, ring doves, brown doves and blue jays are seen throughout the year. Desert fox and desert cat can also be spotted along with typical avifauna such as partridge and sand grouse.
7. Little Rannof Kutch (Gujarat)100 kms from Ahmedabad
Best time to visit - October to March
Little desert of Kutch is a salt marsh located in Kutch, Gujarat. It is famous as the world's last refuge of the Indian wild ass (Khur) for the conservation of which it has been declared as the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary. Though a bleak landscape it is rich in biodiversity and is an ecologically important area for wildlife and many local and migratory waterbirds like cranes, ducks, pelicans, flamingos and land birds like sandgrouse, francolins and the Indian bustards
8. Eagle Nest, Missme hills, Naam Dapha (Arunachal Pradesh)Best time to visit November to April
Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area in the Himalayan foothills of Kameng in Arunachal Pradesh. Eaglenest is notable as a prime birding site due to the extraordinary variety, numbers and accessibility of bird species here. It is home to at least 454 species of birds including cormorants, herons, Black Stork, Oriental White (Black-headed) Ibis, ducks, hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and vultures, falcons, pheasants, junglefowl, quail, and peafowl, Black-necked Crane, rails, plovers, dotterels, and lapwings, waders, ibis, Stone-Curlew (Eurasian Thick-knee) and more. Eaglenest is home to at least 165 species of butterflies including Bhutan Glory, Grey Admiral, Scarce Red-Forester and more. Mishmi Hills is in the northeastern tip of India, in Arunachal Pradesh. There are about 680 bird species. Some of them are Sclater's Monal, Blyth's and Temmink's Tragopan, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Rufous-necked Hornbill, pale-capped Pigeon, Ward's Trogon, dark-sided Thrush, Green and Purple Cochoa, Rusty-bellied and Gould's Shortwing, Beautiful Nuthatch, Rusty-throated and Wedge-billed Wren Babbler, Fire-tailed Myzornis, at least four Parrotbill species, Black-headed Greenfinch, Scarlet Finch and Grey-headed Bullfinch. The endangered Red Panda is seen in the northern reaches and the Hoolock Gibbon is abundant. One of the most unusual ungulates found here is the Mishmi Takin. Serow, Musk Deer and the Himalayan Black Bear are also found. Namdapha National Park is the largest protected area in Eastern Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh. The area is also known for extensive Dipterocarp forests. The park has about 425 bird species with many more to be recorded from work in the higher areas. There are five species of hornbills recorded from the area. Several species of rare wren-babblers have been recorded in Namdapha. Other bird groups include laughing thrushes, parrotbills, fulvettas, shrike babblers and scimitar babblers. The snowythroated babbler is a rare species of babbler found only in the Patkai and Mishmi hills and nearby areas in Northern Myanmar, is found in Namdapha.
9. Bandhipur, Mudhumalai, Coorg & Coonoor
Bandipur National Park was established in 1974 as a tiger reserve under Project Tiger, is a national park located in the south Indian state of Karnataka. Peafowl are among the most commonly seen birds in Bandipur along with grey junglefowl, crows and drongos. Bandipur is home to over 200 species of birds including honey buzzards, red-headed vultures, Indian vultures, flowerpeckers, hoopoes, Indian rollers, brown fish owls, crested serpent eagles and changeable hawk-eagles. The Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary also a declared Tiger Reserve, lies in the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu. The protected area is home to several endangered and vulnerable species including Indian elephant, Bengal tiger, gaur and Indian leopard. There are at least 266 species of birds in the sanctuary, including critically endangered Indian white-rumped vulture and long-billed vulture. These include the unique near threatened black-and-orange flycatcher. Regional endemics include Malabar trogon and Malabar grey hornbill. Some rare birds of prey like the rufous bellied hawk eagle can occasionally be seen in this sanctuary. Kodagu also known as Coorg, is in Karnataka. Kodagu also offers a wide variety of birds, roughly around 300 birds have been sighted and reported over the years. Birds like the Malabar Trogon, the Nilgiri Laughing-Thrush, the Great Black Woodpecker, and the Malabar Whistling-Thrush can be seen here. Coonoor is the second largest hill station in the Nilgiri hills after Ooty.
10. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu)Best time to visit is November to March
85 kms from Chennai
The oldest and smallest water sanctuary in India,the Barringtonia mangroves of the sanctuary create a floating habitat for a variety of migratory birds. There are around 20,000 birds per season here sheltering and breeding in the submerged trees. One of the first birds to arrive at Vedanthal are Openbilled storks and breed twice during the same season before leaving the sanctuary.Egrets,Spot billed pelican, Painted stork, Great cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Darter, Eurasian spoonbill, Asian openbill, Black-headed Ibis, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Great Egret.are seen in large numbers. Mammals seen here are Jackal, Jungle Cat, Wild Boar, Black-naped Hare.