Jul 30, 2019

Best Bird Watching Tours in India

Tree is a symbol of liberty… (A pole of liberty)… Every bird occupying its twigs is messenger of love, faith, equality, & courage & every fluttering leaf is a national flag

– Baba Amte
- Varun Mani -

Birding in India is an almost ceaseless wonder. 1300-odd species amongst 9500 species recorded worldwide(or closer to 18,000 if new reports according to the American Museum of Natural History are to be consider).

From the 8.5 foot wingspan of the Himalayan Griffon to the smaller flycatchers and flowerpeckers, India bird diversity is massive, and the ‘twitchers’ of the world find great solace in visiting India for birding. A bid watching tour of India has something in store for everybody

No doubt, as wildlife enthusiasts or nature lovers, one can’t help but being curious about interesting species which the eye cannot avoid. Yet it takes a different level of interest(and a pair of binoculars of course) to take efforts to first identify, and then learn more about any particular species which catches the eye.

Lots attain satisfaction in big mammals, especially predators – and birds get neglected. However, those whose interests have transcended those of mammals and birds, and find amazing fascination in plants, butterflies and insects might cry foul too!

However, a love for birding remains with the author, and as you have landed on this page, one refrains from further utilising your time on indulgent thoughts. With too many to name, here is a short not on some of the iconic of birds in India :

Highlight species of India

  1. Great Indian Bustard :

    Best place to see this is at Desert National Park, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. At one point the Great Indian Bustard was earmarked to be the National Bird of India due to its precariously low population, the powers that be decided against it. The population may be under 100 individuals at this present time, with captive breeding the only possibility to save India’s heaviest bird at 15 kgs.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  2. Western Tragopan :

    Best seen at the Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh. It is a bird of the pheasant family, rarely seen except during the breeding season when the undergrowth reduces and signals its breeding season. The government has declared it the state bird of Himachal Pradesh, and it is estimated that only around 4000-5000 birds remain in the wild. They are found at altitudes between 1600-2800 metres above sea level.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  3. Himalayan Monal :

    Best seen at Chopta and Tungnath in Uttarakhand – it is an absolutely splendid bird located above 2000 metres, upto 4000m. Another bird of the pheasant family, with beautiful plumage – it is a rather shy bird but seems to lose it’s shyness in the above areas in the summer during its mating season in full splendor. Nepal has appointed it its National Bird.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  4. Green Avadavat :

    Best seen at Sirohi- Mount Abu. It’s finch-like bill and green colour allow it to feed on the seeds of grasses and small fruit while blending in to its surroundings. Habitat loss however and previously rampant trapping of the bird to be sold as a caged pet is cause for massive decline of this species. It is listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN. It is also an endemic bird of India.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  5. Bengal Florican:
    Observed amongst agricultural land by Naturalist Nikita Khamparia in the Inner Terai Region
  6. Bengal Florican :

    Best place to see it is at Kokilabari near Manas National Park – Assam. Part of the Bustard family, it is listed as Critically Endangered due to rapid habitat loss to agriculture, depleting grasslands, controlled burning and invasive species have resulted in its population limited to only a few places, mostly agricultural areas, in North India.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  7. Lesser Florican:
    Seen in the grasslands near Ajmer by photographer Rohit Gangwal
  8. Lesser Florican :

    Best seen in Ajmer at Sokhaliya Grassland in Rajasthan. Another cousin of the 02 afore mentioned bustards, it’s population is close to 1000. Their courtship dance is an absolute wonder, and it is during this time when they jump out of the grassland to reveal themselves.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  9. Ibisbill :  
    Seen by Naturalist Man Kumar Chaudhary in the Inner Terai region
  10. Ibisbill :

    Best seen at Nameri National Park, Assam. It breeds in the Himalayas but comes down to the foothills in the winter and is seen amongst large pebbles near river beds. It’s long Ibis-like bill enables it to hunt for insects between the rocks. It is a really unique looking and very beautiful bird – a photographer’s dream.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  11. Black-breasted Parrotbill :

    Best seen at Magruri Beel Wetland of Dibru-Saikhowa Tiger Reserve in Assam.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  12. White – Bellied Heron :

    Seen at Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh. It is a critically endangered species, with around 250 or so individuals only remaining. The White bellied Heron is India’s 2nd larget heron, standing at almost 05 ft in height. They only survive along fast-flowing rivers of Arunachal Pradesh, however, with many a dam project mooted by the Indian Government, it is the death knell for the Imperial Heron whom we know so little about.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  13. Brown Hornbill/Austen’s Hornbill :

    Best seen at Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam. Found in rainforests, this bird has a small distirubution in a few places in the North-east of India.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  14. Sikkim Wedge-billed Wren Babbler :

    Best seen at Eaglest Wildlife Sanctuary & Mishmi Hills in Arunachal Pradesh. A unique looking bird whch dwells amongst dense understory of the forests of North-east India.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  15. Bugun Liocichla :

    Only seen at Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh. It was discovered only in 2006! It’s tiny distribution and impending threat of logging threats the birds population.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  16. White-winged Wood Duck :

    Best seen at Nameri National Park and Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam. As the name suggests, this species prefers to stay in pools of water surrounded by forests and is quite a shy bird. It doesn’t migrate as it occurs in food rich areas of evergreen to moist tropical forests of North-East India, it is listed by IUCN as Endangered. Only a few hundred remain in India.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  17. Heart-spotted Woodpecker :

    Best seen at Thattekad Bird Sanctuary in Kerala. An eye-catching bird, endemic to the evergreen forests of South India.
    Smaller than your regular woodpeckers, it can be heard pecking loudly.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  18. Black and Orange Flycatcher :

    Best seen at the hills of Munnar & Ooty. It is endemic to the Western Ghats. Its lovely colour makes it an attractive bird to spot.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

  19. Forest Owlet :

    Best seen at Melghat Tiger Reserve. Such little is known about this bird, and so small its distribution, that the Forest Owlet was declared extinct in 1972, only 100 years after its discovery! It was “rediscovered” in 1997. It has a well pronounced white mask, unspotted head and undulating flight have led scientists to provide it with a genus of its own : Heteroglaux. It is found in 3 states of India : Mahrashtra, Madhya Pradesh & Gujarat mostly in dry deciduous forests. It is rare owing to the fact that only 1-2 juveniles survive from 6-7 nests. Its populaton in present day is at around 200-250 individuals giving it its endangered status by IUCN. It is endemic to India, and possibly to Central India as well.

    To know more about the bird : E-bird

Birding tours in India have endless possibilities, and these are only a few iconic species amongst many a species.

And if you would like to indulge in a birding tour in India, please endeavour to do so, keeping in mind the seasons and most importantly that it should be done in an ethical fashion without playing calls and getting close to nests.

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