Wings of Wonder: Top 20 Bird Sanctuaries in India for Migratory Bird Watching

India, with its diverse habitats and ecosystems, serves as a haven for migratory birds from around the world. From coastal wetlands to Himalayan lakes, here are the top 20 bird sanctuaries in India where birdwatchers can witness the spectacle of migratory birds in their natural habitats:Streaked Laughing Thrush


India, with its diverse habitats and ecosystems, serves as a haven for migratory birds from around the world. From coastal wetlands to Himalayan lakes, here are the top 20 bird sanctuaries in India where birdwatchers can witness the spectacle of migratory birds in their natural habitats:

Though we had gone to the Keoladeo National Park primarily to see the migratory birds, I was also secretly excited about the little birdies. In fact, it is these little magical creatures that I find most fascinating. Most of these little avians fall in the category of what are known as the songbirds or perching birds. These belong to the order Passeriformes and are also known as passerines. Red Vented Bulbul The strange thing about the category songbird is that it not only includes little birds with melodious songs. It also includes tuneless and discordant birds such as the crows, ravens, starlings, and magpies. And surprisingly, this category excludes the obvious contenders such as the koel and the common hawk cuckoo (papeeha). So, you will probably realize that the category "songbirds" isn't necessarily correct. Indian Robin As regarding the second name, perching birds, I don't even know what that means, considering that birds of prey are not included in this category. Anyway, both these classifications - songbirds as well as perching birds - are considered inaccurate today. Passerines is the safest and the most accurate classification to use. It isn't as lyrical though. So we will continue to use songbirds instead for the purpose of this article. Purple Sunbird Indeed, it was the songbirds that greeted us first as we entered Keoladeo National Park. A Brahminy Starling perched on the highest branch of a short tree turned her back to us as soon as we came within the clicking distance of it. Next it was a couple of Green Bee-eaters that flitted about before finding a comfortable seat on a wire. The light was perfect here, so it was a good photo-op. Yellow Wagtail And then the entire jungle burst into songs as little red-vented bulbuls got busy hopping from tree-to-tree. Though less talkative than Mynas, bulbuls too can create a constant chatter when they so choose. We stood there to enjoy their song for a bit. After all, we had almost the entire day with us. It was difficult to photograph these fast moving birds, but VJ managed to get a couple in a frame. Black Drongo However, not all songbirds are that talkative. In fact, you would hardly have ever heard a drongo say anything. These brooding black birds are usually seen sitting quietly on wires, without talking or moving. But Internet tells me that a drongo too can sing, even if it is just a scratchy, out-of-tune kind of song. Rufous Treepie Usually Rufous Treepies are quite gregarious. In Ranthambore, I have seen them flying out and perching on the arms of human to grab a wafer from their hands. These brave birds are also known as Tiger's Toothpicks as they have been known to pick the food from a Tiger's teeth as it sleeps. It isn't difficult to believe this. We saw only one of these at Keoladeo National Park and it didn't seem much in the mood for company. White-browed Wagtail The little birds manage to intrigue you enough to lure you towards the unpaved paths. VJ and I found ourselves leaving the main road quite often and straying onto the trails to click these quick, flitting passerines. There were so many that we saw but were not able to capture in the camera. There were Wagtails, prinias, and warblers. But we have very few photographs of them. The one above seems to be a White-browed Wagtail. Though for a long time, I was convinced that it was an Oriental Magpie Robin. Then the white patch between the neck and the wing forced me to look further. I might still be wrong though. Brahminy Starling Brahminy Starling has captured my imagination ever since I was a child. We used to live in Sarojini Nagar and Brahminy Starlings were regular visitors to our terrace. I was quite intrigued by the black "hair" these starlings sport. Of course, back then I did not know what these birds were called. Slowly the birds disappeared from Delhi and the next I spotted them was in Ranthambore. It was also here that I found out that they have this beautiful name - Brahminy Starling. Bank Myna Like the Brahminy Starling, the Myna too belongs to the starling family. I absolutely love the name "starling" though. It is prettier than the birds themselves. The myna above is a Bank Myna. You can identify it by the red patch beneath the eyes. The Common Myna does not have this. You will often spot the Bank Myna in a mixed flock with the Common Myna. House Crow I am still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that a crow is a songbird. I guess that may be one of the reasons why the classification "songbirds" went out of use. Besides that though, a crow is a pretty fascinating bird. It is intelligent and, therefore, fun to observe. I have often seen crows hiding their food quite ingeniously. I have seen them play tricks on other birds. It is a shame then that these crows are often hoodwinked by the Koel. Oriental Magpie Robin And here is the Oriental Magpie Robin. Both White-Browed Wagtail and Oriental Magpie Robin can be seen often in and around Delhi. Even though from a distance both the birds appear similar, once you know the differences, it is quite easy to identify the two species. Both Oriental Magpie Robin and White-Browed Wagtails have sing very melodious songs, so are a pleasure to listen to. Asian Pied Starling In total, 7 types of starlings can be seen in Keoladeo National Park - Common Starling, Rosy Starling, Purple-backed Starling, Asian Pied Starling, Brahminy Starling, Bank Myna, and Common Myna. Of these, we were able to see four. The one in the photograph above is the Asian Pied Starling. The orange beak helps in a quick identification. I would have also loved to see the remaining three. I have never seen them in my life. Indian Robin The little bird above can be seen quite commonly in and around Delhi. It is known as the Indian Robin, which is another beautiful name. Whenever I think of the sheer variety of birds Indian is blessed with, I thank God. These are magical creatures. One only needs to spend a few moments and observe. Indian Silverbill An Indian Silverbill has (as you may have guessed) an interesting bill. Rounded and parrotlike, this beak is one characteristic that makes it similar to its relative, the munia. We were headed back and were about to exit the park when we saw this bird perched on a tree, very close to a common cuckoo. The bird is slightly larger than a house sparrow. I had always assumed it to be that it would be smaller. The name makes one wonder.  Female House Sparrow A house sparrow is seen here perched on a branch. This photograph was clicked outside the National Park, very close to our resort. It is a shame that these lively, talkative birds have almost been wiped out from Delhi. Only a few years back these were present in large numbers, visiting balconies, making nests in every available cavity they could find. I truly miss their chatter. Common Tailorbird I admit that this isn't the best photograph of the tailorbird, but this is all that we managed to capture. I didn't have the heart to not include it in the post. This was the first time I was seeing this bird after all. These tiny birds make very innovative nests by stitching together two or more leaves. Another marvel of nature that leaves one speechless. Green Bee-eater And finally, the Green Bee-eater. In fact this was the bird that had greeted us as we had entered the park. Rather than the huge and magnificent migratory birds, it is these colorful, playful songbirds that I find more interesting. They add so much life and music to the world. It is really a shame that we only realize that they have vanished when it is already too late. However, recently I have heard that sparrows are returning to the city. I am yet to see the evidence, but I do hope it is true. Our coming generations deserve to have nature's musicians around.

1. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Keoladeo National Park), Rajasthan

Nestled in the heart of Rajasthan, the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, also known as Keoladeo National Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its diverse avian population. During the winter months, the park becomes a bustling hub of activity as thousands of migratory birds, including Siberian cranes, pelicans, and ducks, flock to its wetlands and marshes.

There's so much variety of birds in Keoladeo National Park that I can go on and on about the sheer variety of birds we saw there. It was certainly a joy and a learning experience. One activity that I did before we went to Bharatpur that helped us sight and identify birds during our trip was that we went through the website List of Birds at Keoladeo National Park and marked them in our copy of A Pictorial Field Guide to Birds of India. We also read a bit about these birds. This ensured that these birds were on the top of our mind when we visited Bharatpur and we could quickly mark them in our list. If you are planning to visit a place like Keoladeo National Park, it is recommended that you do some research before you head there so that you can make the most of your trip. White-throated Kingfisher. We have already talked about Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns and also about Storks and Cranes that we saw at keoladeo National Park. In this post, we will talk about all other waterbirds we sighted here. Let's start with one of the most common waterbirds, except cattle egret of course, that we can see around us even in urban areas. It is the White-throated Kingfisher. This beautiful bird is often found solitary, sitting on overhead power lines close to waterbodies in cities. We saw several of these birds in Keoladeo National Park, but only a couple were close enough to be clicked. Common Moorhen (Juvenile). Another waterbird that we saw almost as soon as we reached the wetlands was the Moorhen, a very common member of the rail family. In the above picture, you can see a couple of Juveniles swimming around. I first thought that these were females, however, upon reading further I found that males and females are almost indistinguishable in Moorhens. It is the juveniles that have brownish plumage. Full grown moorhens have deep brown wings with an almost black neck and body. Common Moorhen - full grown You can see full-grown moorhens in the above photograph. Another interesting fact about Moorhens is that the males of this species is also known as a moorhen and not a moorcock. A moorcock is a completely different bird. Moorhens usually form a monogamous pair and are territorial while breeding. Each pair builds several nests in its territory and each nest may contain 4-12 eggs, laid at the rate of one egg per day. Common Sandpiper Very close to the colony of Moorhens, we spotted this lone Common Sandpiper on a bark close to the waterbody. This is unusual because these are gregarious birds and are often seen in large flocks. The bird feeds on worms and molluscs and may even catch insects during flight. This was one of the few migratory birds that we saw at Bharatpur. Common Coot Common Coot was another migratory bird that we saw at Keoladeo National Park. This duck-like member of the rail family is also as territorial as the Moorhen, and more so during the breeding season. When not breeding, these birds form large flocks to stay safe. Common Coots do not make good parents when there is scarcity of food, because in such conditions, Common Coots bite their babies that beg for food to keep them quite. Sometimes babies may end up being killed because of this. Common Coot Both male and female Common Coots look alike, They are almost completely black with the exception of a white shield on their forehead and beak. The black is less pronounced in younger birds and they also lack the white shield. The black plumage develops at around 4-5 month of age. Both make and females are aggressive when it comes to protecting their nests and, when compared to other members of rail family, are less shy. Cormorants Cormorants are a common sight in almost all wetlands and are excellent divers. They use their webbed feet and wings to propel themselves when under water. They feed mostly on fish and have adapted to both saltwater and freshwater habitats. Keoladeo is home to Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, and Great Cormorant, and we were lucky enough to spot all. We will talk about the differences between these three types of cormorant a little later. Lesser Whistling Duck The Lesser Whistling Duck is also known as the Indian Whistling Duck, and are common aquatic birds in the Indian Subcontinent and South-East Asia. These birds usually feed during the night and can be found sunning themselves during the day. They sleep while standing, their neck curled to keep the sun away from their eyes. Males and Females are are alike in appearance. These ducks are resident at the Keoladeo National Park.  Ibises - Black-headed and Glossy We saw two types of Ibises at the Keoladeo National Park. Of them, the black-headed Ibis is the resident species. It is often confused with the white Ibis though its black neck and beak stand in stark contrast with its overall white plumage. Male and female are identical. During the breeding season, some Ibises may develop a black tuft of feathers on the tail. Ibises have adapted themselves to both natural and manmade waterbodies and are highly versatile. Lesser Whistling Ducks in the foreground, Ibises in the back The Glossy Ibis is a migrant species at the Keoladeo National Park. It can be seen keeping company with the black-headed Ibises, and is often mistaken as a black Ibis. It is a highly nomadic bird and birds may disperse after breeding. They feast mostly on aquatic insects and crustaceans and occasionally also on fish, lizards and other small aquatic animals. Aquatic birds are often seen in close company with different types of birds. In the above photograph, you can see black-headed and Glossy Ibises in company with Lesser Whistling Ducks and even a couple of egrets. Little Cormorant This bird with almost entirely black body is the little cormorant. It is slightly smaller than the Indian Cormorant and mostly forages alone or in loose groups of a few individuals. Unlike the Indian Cormorant, the little cormorant lacks a pointed head profile. The little cormorant is found in India, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Pakistan and Nepal. It is not found in the Himalayas though some solitary individuals have been sighted in Ladakh. Grey-headed Swamphen in the foreground; Common moorhens in the back This bird was earlier known as the Purple Swamphen, but the species has now been subdivided into 6 species, among them the Grey-headed Swamphen, which is found in the Indian Subcontinent. Now the Purple Swamphen is considered as a superspecies, whereas the each of the 6 sub-divisions have been elevated to the status of a full species. The male has an elaborate courtship display where it bobs up and down all the while holding weeds in its beak. It would be interesting to watch I am sure. But we were not so lucky. Great Cormorants The Great Cormorants are big birds, but their sizes may vary greatly depending upon the region they are from. These birds can be seen perched on trees around waterbodies in large groups. These birds have adapted themselves to a wide variety of habitats including saltwater and freshwater wetlands. Great Cormorants indulge in long-term pairing and one pair may continue to use the same nest year-after-year. Oriental Darter Oriental Darter bird is also known as the Snake Bird because of its long thin neck and the way it appears when it dives and swims in the water. Oriental Darter hunts with its body submerged and only the neck visible above the water. It spears the fish with this pointed beak and then brings it on the surface. It is often seen on rocks on the edges of wetlands, with its wings spread, sunning itself. Indian Cormorant The Indian Cormorant is also known as the Indian Shag and is mostly found in Indian Subcontinent. It is a mid-size cormorant which has a dark copper brown plumage. It has a long narrow beak that ends in a hook. Its head is slightly domed and the eye is blue. Male and Female Indian Cormorants are similar, but juveniles and non-breeding adults are lighter brown than the breeding individuals. Red-Wattled Lapwing The Red-Wattled Lapwing is a large plover that is commonly seen and heard in urban habitats as well. It's call that sounds like did-he-do-it can be heard commonly during the day and night. This is an alarm call that warns about the presence of humans or animals around. These birds are incapable of perching and are mostly seen on ground. Their chicks immediately after hatching start following the adults around for feeding. There are so many birds that we saw but could not click at Keoladeo National Park. And there were so many beautiful scenes of peaceful co-habitation among species that we found difficult to express through photographs. We saw feral cattle driving away herons and storks, but then simply letting them be. It looked like a giant playground for these different animals. But appearances are often deceptive and we know that the ultimate question is of survival. There is violence beneath the surface, and that is the reality, whether we like it or not.
Lesser Whistling Duck

2. Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary, Odisha

Located along the eastern coast of India, the Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary is Asia's largest brackish water lagoon and a haven for migratory birds. Home to over 160 species of birds, including flamingos, spoonbills, and herons, the sanctuary provides critical habitat for both resident and visiting avian species.

There's so much variety of birds in Keoladeo National Park that I can go on and on about the sheer variety of birds we saw there. It was certainly a joy and a learning experience. One activity that I did before we went to Bharatpur that helped us sight and identify birds during our trip was that we went through the website List of Birds at Keoladeo National Park and marked them in our copy of A Pictorial Field Guide to Birds of India. We also read a bit about these birds. This ensured that these birds were on the top of our mind when we visited Bharatpur and we could quickly mark them in our list. If you are planning to visit a place like Keoladeo National Park, it is recommended that you do some research before you head there so that you can make the most of your trip. White-throated Kingfisher. We have already talked about Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns and also about Storks and Cranes that we saw at keoladeo National Park. In this post, we will talk about all other waterbirds we sighted here. Let's start with one of the most common waterbirds, except cattle egret of course, that we can see around us even in urban areas. It is the White-throated Kingfisher. This beautiful bird is often found solitary, sitting on overhead power lines close to waterbodies in cities. We saw several of these birds in Keoladeo National Park, but only a couple were close enough to be clicked. Common Moorhen (Juvenile). Another waterbird that we saw almost as soon as we reached the wetlands was the Moorhen, a very common member of the rail family. In the above picture, you can see a couple of Juveniles swimming around. I first thought that these were females, however, upon reading further I found that males and females are almost indistinguishable in Moorhens. It is the juveniles that have brownish plumage. Full grown moorhens have deep brown wings with an almost black neck and body. Common Moorhen - full grown You can see full-grown moorhens in the above photograph. Another interesting fact about Moorhens is that the males of this species is also known as a moorhen and not a moorcock. A moorcock is a completely different bird. Moorhens usually form a monogamous pair and are territorial while breeding. Each pair builds several nests in its territory and each nest may contain 4-12 eggs, laid at the rate of one egg per day. Common Sandpiper Very close to the colony of Moorhens, we spotted this lone Common Sandpiper on a bark close to the waterbody. This is unusual because these are gregarious birds and are often seen in large flocks. The bird feeds on worms and molluscs and may even catch insects during flight. This was one of the few migratory birds that we saw at Bharatpur. Common Coot Common Coot was another migratory bird that we saw at Keoladeo National Park. This duck-like member of the rail family is also as territorial as the Moorhen, and more so during the breeding season. When not breeding, these birds form large flocks to stay safe. Common Coots do not make good parents when there is scarcity of food, because in such conditions, Common Coots bite their babies that beg for food to keep them quite. Sometimes babies may end up being killed because of this. Common Coot Both male and female Common Coots look alike, They are almost completely black with the exception of a white shield on their forehead and beak. The black is less pronounced in younger birds and they also lack the white shield. The black plumage develops at around 4-5 month of age. Both make and females are aggressive when it comes to protecting their nests and, when compared to other members of rail family, are less shy. Cormorants Cormorants are a common sight in almost all wetlands and are excellent divers. They use their webbed feet and wings to propel themselves when under water. They feed mostly on fish and have adapted to both saltwater and freshwater habitats. Keoladeo is home to Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, and Great Cormorant, and we were lucky enough to spot all. We will talk about the differences between these three types of cormorant a little later. Lesser Whistling Duck The Lesser Whistling Duck is also known as the Indian Whistling Duck, and are common aquatic birds in the Indian Subcontinent and South-East Asia. These birds usually feed during the night and can be found sunning themselves during the day. They sleep while standing, their neck curled to keep the sun away from their eyes. Males and Females are are alike in appearance. These ducks are resident at the Keoladeo National Park.  Ibises - Black-headed and Glossy We saw two types of Ibises at the Keoladeo National Park. Of them, the black-headed Ibis is the resident species. It is often confused with the white Ibis though its black neck and beak stand in stark contrast with its overall white plumage. Male and female are identical. During the breeding season, some Ibises may develop a black tuft of feathers on the tail. Ibises have adapted themselves to both natural and manmade waterbodies and are highly versatile. Lesser Whistling Ducks in the foreground, Ibises in the back The Glossy Ibis is a migrant species at the Keoladeo National Park. It can be seen keeping company with the black-headed Ibises, and is often mistaken as a black Ibis. It is a highly nomadic bird and birds may disperse after breeding. They feast mostly on aquatic insects and crustaceans and occasionally also on fish, lizards and other small aquatic animals. Aquatic birds are often seen in close company with different types of birds. In the above photograph, you can see black-headed and Glossy Ibises in company with Lesser Whistling Ducks and even a couple of egrets. Little Cormorant This bird with almost entirely black body is the little cormorant. It is slightly smaller than the Indian Cormorant and mostly forages alone or in loose groups of a few individuals. Unlike the Indian Cormorant, the little cormorant lacks a pointed head profile. The little cormorant is found in India, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Pakistan and Nepal. It is not found in the Himalayas though some solitary individuals have been sighted in Ladakh. Grey-headed Swamphen in the foreground; Common moorhens in the back This bird was earlier known as the Purple Swamphen, but the species has now been subdivided into 6 species, among them the Grey-headed Swamphen, which is found in the Indian Subcontinent. Now the Purple Swamphen is considered as a superspecies, whereas the each of the 6 sub-divisions have been elevated to the status of a full species. The male has an elaborate courtship display where it bobs up and down all the while holding weeds in its beak. It would be interesting to watch I am sure. But we were not so lucky. Great Cormorants The Great Cormorants are big birds, but their sizes may vary greatly depending upon the region they are from. These birds can be seen perched on trees around waterbodies in large groups. These birds have adapted themselves to a wide variety of habitats including saltwater and freshwater wetlands. Great Cormorants indulge in long-term pairing and one pair may continue to use the same nest year-after-year. Oriental Darter Oriental Darter bird is also known as the Snake Bird because of its long thin neck and the way it appears when it dives and swims in the water. Oriental Darter hunts with its body submerged and only the neck visible above the water. It spears the fish with this pointed beak and then brings it on the surface. It is often seen on rocks on the edges of wetlands, with its wings spread, sunning itself. Indian Cormorant The Indian Cormorant is also known as the Indian Shag and is mostly found in Indian Subcontinent. It is a mid-size cormorant which has a dark copper brown plumage. It has a long narrow beak that ends in a hook. Its head is slightly domed and the eye is blue. Male and Female Indian Cormorants are similar, but juveniles and non-breeding adults are lighter brown than the breeding individuals. Red-Wattled Lapwing The Red-Wattled Lapwing is a large plover that is commonly seen and heard in urban habitats as well. It's call that sounds like did-he-do-it can be heard commonly during the day and night. This is an alarm call that warns about the presence of humans or animals around. These birds are incapable of perching and are mostly seen on ground. Their chicks immediately after hatching start following the adults around for feeding. There are so many birds that we saw but could not click at Keoladeo National Park. And there were so many beautiful scenes of peaceful co-habitation among species that we found difficult to express through photographs. We saw feral cattle driving away herons and storks, but then simply letting them be. It looked like a giant playground for these different animals. But appearances are often deceptive and we know that the ultimate question is of survival. There is violence beneath the surface, and that is the reality, whether we like it or not.Oriental Darter


3. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka

Situated on the banks of the Kaveri River near Mysore, the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is a paradise for birdwatchers. The sanctuary's small islands and dense vegetation provide nesting sites for migratory birds such as painted storks, spoonbills, and egrets, offering excellent opportunities for close-up observation and photography.

4. Sultanpur National Park, Haryana

Located just a short drive from Delhi, Sultanpur National Park is a popular destination for birdwatching enthusiasts. The park's marshes, grasslands, and woodlands attract a wide variety of migratory birds, including Siberian cranes, flamingos, and bar-headed geese, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers.

However, we digress. Neither the bee hummingbird, nor the giant hummingbird is found in Costa Rica. However, Costa Rica is home to over 50 different species of Hummingbirds, and we were fortunate enough to see about 15 of them. We saw hummingbirds around Irazu Volcano near San Jose, in Monteverde, and at Papa Gayo peninsula.

5. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu

Established over 200 years ago, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is one of the oldest water bird sanctuaries in India. Situated near Chennai, the sanctuary hosts thousands of migratory birds, including pintail ducks, garganey teals, and coots, making it a birdwatcher's paradise in the southern part of the country.

Among the little round birds were the Plumbeous Water Redstart and the Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher. These were the cutest birds I have ever seen. Rather like the birds we draw as kids. A circle with legs, a tail and a beak. And these birds were at various stages of their lives. Some were adult, while others were juvenile. As a result, the color of the plummage varied considerably, making it difficult for amateurs like us to identify them as the same or different birds.Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher - Juvenile Male


6. Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat

Spread across the vast expanse of the Nal Sarovar Lake near Ahmedabad, this sanctuary is a haven for migratory birds, particularly during the winter months. Visitors can enjoy boat rides on the lake to observe flocks of flamingos, pelicans, and geese against the backdrop of serene wetlands and marshes.

Birds eluded us for most part of our trip to Dalhousie. They were no where to be seen when we arrived. The stayed hidden even when we spent our second day at the campus of Dalhousie Public School. They did, however, entice us by their constant singing and chirping. In fact until the morning of the third day, the only birds we had seen were some bulbuls and doves. Things were looking bleak.
Oriental Turtle Dove

7. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Nestled amidst the backwaters of Kerala, the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a tranquil retreat for birdwatchers seeking refuge in nature. The sanctuary's mangrove forests and waterways provide a habitat for migratory birds such as Siberian cranes, herons, and kingfishers, offering a peaceful sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The common Chiffchaff or simply Chiffchaff is a leaf warbler which is a non-breeding migrant from up north. Looking at the bird and its size, it is hard to imagine that it migrates all the way from Russia and other northern countries every winter. The warbler has dark beak and legs and dark upper parts and almost whitish belly.Common Chiffchaff


8. Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

Located on the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary is a haven for waterfowl and migratory birds. The sanctuary's brackish water lagoon attracts thousands of flamingos, pelicans, and ducks during the winter months, providing birdwatchers with ample opportunities for observation and photography.

Demoiselle Cranes (grus virgo) are a species of crane that breed in central Eurosiberia, ranging from Black Sea and Mangolia to North Eastern China, plus a small breeding population in Turkey. The birds fly south to Africa and Indian subcontinent to spend the winter months.

9. Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary, Maharashtra

Situated on the backwaters of the Ujani Dam, Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary is a hidden gem for birdwatchers in Maharashtra. The sanctuary's shallow waters and mudflats attract migratory birds such as greater flamingos, painted storks, and black-headed ibis, making it a paradise for avian enthusiasts in the heart of the state.

Tada is about 30 kilometers from Pulicat Bird Sanctuary, which is located near Sriharikota and is also home to Satish Dhawan Space Center, the famous rocket launch site. We started early from our highway hotel. Because of this we were able to start our drive through the Pulicat Bird Sanctuary at 7AM. Only after reaching there did we realize that the bird sanctuary is always open. It is basically a road through rice fields and lakes that connects Sriharikota to mainland.

10. Pangong Tso Bird Sanctuary, Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir)

Located at an altitude of over 4,250 meters above sea level, the Pangong Tso Bird Sanctuary offers a unique opportunity to observe high-altitude migratory birds in their natural habitat. The sanctuary's pristine lakeshores and barren landscapes provide a habitat for birds such as bar-headed geese, Brahminy ducks, and black-necked cranes, making it a must-visit destination for birdwatchers in Ladakh.

We had started early and discovered that birds too were relatively late-risers. In fact, we saw more birds on our way

11. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Goa

Named after the eminent ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali, this sanctuary is located on the western tip of the ChorĂ£o Island along the Mandovi River. The mangrove swamps and wetlands here attract a variety of migratory birds such as black-capped kingfishers, sandpipers, and terns, providing birdwatchers with a peaceful retreat amidst Goa's lush greenery.

You can go here anytime. When you search for the bird sanctuary on Google, you will find various timings on various websites. In reality these timings are those of a little gated facility with statues of birds. The area where the actual birds are, is actually open throughout the day.

12. Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh

Situated on the banks of the Yamuna River near Delhi, the Okhla Bird Sanctuary is a vital habitat for migratory birds in the National Capital Region. The sanctuary's marshes and wetlands provide refuge to species such as northern pintails, common teal, and gadwalls, making it a popular destination for birdwatching enthusiasts in Uttar Pradesh.

Himalayan Black-Lored Tit


13. Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Dubbed the "Birders' Paradise," Thattekad Bird Sanctuary is nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghats near Kochi. The sanctuary's dense evergreen forests and riverine habitats are home to migratory birds such as Malabar grey hornbills, Indian pittas, and white-bellied treepies, offering a haven for birdwatchers seeking rare and endemic species.

Grey Bushchat (Juvenile)Grey Bushchat (Juvenile)


14. Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary, Himachal Pradesh

Located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, the Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary is a sprawling wetland sanctuary that attracts migratory birds from Central Asia and Siberia. The sanctuary's reservoir and surrounding grasslands provide a habitat for species such as bar-headed geese, Brahminy ducks, and common coots, making it a hotspot for birdwatching in the Himalayan foothills.

Black DrongoBlack Drongo


15. Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu

Situated at the southern tip of India near Nagapattinam, Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary is a coastal haven for migratory birds. The sanctuary's mangrove forests, salt pans, and sandy beaches provide a habitat for species such as greater flamingos, Eurasian spoonbills, and pied avocets, making it a paradise for birdwatchers along the Coromandel Coast.

Nestled in the heart of Rajasthan, Bharatpur stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of history, the abundance of natural beauty, and the vibrant culture that defines this enchanting region of India. As you journey through its labyrinthine streets and verdant landscapes, you'll find yourself immersed in a world where every corner tells a story, and every sight leaves you awe-inspired.

16. Bhitarkanika Bird Sanctuary, Odisha

Located within the Bhitarkanika National Park, this sanctuary is a haven for avian enthusiasts. The mangrove forests and estuaries here attract a plethora of migratory birds, including Asian openbills, black-crowned night herons, and pied kingfishers. Visitors can explore the sanctuary by boat, marveling at the diverse birdlife amidst the tranquil surroundings.

Keoladeo National Park:    Once the private hunting ground of the maharajas of Bharatpur, Keoladeo National Park is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its avian diversity.  Home to over 370 bird species, including rare migratory birds like the Siberian crane, the park offers unparalleled opportunities for birdwatching and nature photography.  Visitors can explore the park on foot, bicycle, or rickshaw, soaking in the sights and sounds of this ecological treasure trove.

17. Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh

Situated in the Gurgaon district of Uttar Pradesh, Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary is a popular destination for birdwatchers in the National Capital Region. The sanctuary's shallow freshwater lakes and marshes provide a habitat for migratory birds such as Siberian cranes, greater flamingos, and Eurasian wigeons, offering excellent opportunities for birdwatching and photography.

Blue-throated Barbet, Birds add a lot of charm to our visits to our hometown in Himachal Pradesh. In fact, one of the most exciting aspects is the sheer variety of birds that one can spot there, right from our terrace. The secret behind this is the little stream that flows right behind our house. A dense vegetation that comprises of various types of trees, vines, and shrubs. Apart from leafy trees that provide shade and nesting opportunities, there were fruit trees and vines that provide food. There are also several types of insects that attract flycatchers, thrushes etc. Some of the trees have been trimmed recently so the warblers were very few. Blue-throated Barbet, The Blue-throated Barbet made a reappearance this time. The Chayote vine that my father-in-law had planted has spread across the stream and the Barbets are apparently nesting there and feeding on the chayotes every day. We had to be patient as the Barbets preferred to stay hidden in the vegetation, but finally our patience yielded results and it struck some nice poses. Blue-throated Barbet. Throughout our stay the only activity we saw this bird do was eating. And it made absolutely zero noise. Another observation was that this was a really restless bird and wouldn't stay at a single place for more than a few seconds. It would keep hopping to higher branches till it got out of the range of our basic camera and then relax. It would keep sitting there for hours, out in full view, keeping absolutely still. But yes, just out of the range of our camera. Indian Robin, The Indian Robin is a passerine bird that is widespread in the Indian subcontinent. The males of northern populations have a brown back, whereas those of the southern population are almost entirely black. They are commonly found in open scrub areas and often seen running along the ground or perching on low thorny shrubs and rocks. The long tail is usually held up to reveal the the chestnut undertail coverts.Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail. It is a misnomer to refer to this bird as a Fantail because the DNA analysis has placed this bird closer to the family of fairy flycatchers. And if you happen to observe the bird in action you will definitely realize that it is a flycatcher. The way it perches is very similar to the white-browed fantail, but a fantail behaves in a very different way. White-browed Fantail. The yellow-bellied fantail is actually a very cute little bird. It is tiny, only about 8cm long. It has a black eyeband, a bright yellow belly and dark brown / black upper parts. This is another quick bird that is not easy to capture in a camera. It took us quite a few tries and required a lot of patience to capture it on a camera. Grey-hooded Warbler. The White-browed Fantail, on the other hand, is almost 18cm long, more than double the size of the yellow-bellied fantail. This fan tail flits from branch to branch and is so called because it is often seen with its tail spread like a Japanese hand fan. This is an insectivorous bird. Grey-hooded Warbler. The grey-hooded warbler is a 10-12 cm long leaf warbler that has a sweet and cheerful call, which is music to one's ears. This little warbler eats everything from tiny spiders, catterpillars, insects, berries. It is found foraging for food in leafy branches. Grey-hooded Warbler. The grey-hooded warbler has bright yellow underparts and yellow streaks on wings and tail. It has white and grey stripes on its head and grey shades on its neck and tips of the wing and the tail. It is a pretty little bird and is a joy to have around your home. Common Tailorbird. We were at our grandparents' house and I happened to be looking out of their kitchen door when I spotted these cute little tailorbirds. At first I thought it was some sort of a warbler but wasn't sure. The birds flew away by the time I got my camera. However, one thing that I have come to appreciate about the mountains is that life there is mostly simple and often predictable. Therefore, I was fairly confident that the birds will be back at the same time the next day. I positioned myself close to the spot the next day at the same time, this time equipped with the camera and our inadequate lens. And as predicted, the birds were back at the same time. Grey Bushchat. The Grey Bushchat is a small passerine bird that is often seen perched on high wires. The male of the species is easily identifiable because of its black eyeband and white belly. The female is rufous brown in color and with much lighter eyeband. It feeds mostly on small insects, grasshoppers, etc, and is also known to occasionally feed on seeds.  Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail. The Grey Bushchat is found in the Himalayas, southern China, Taiwan, Nepal and mainland Southeast Asia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. Blue Whistling Thrush. One bird that we had seen often but hadn't really been able to identify was a large one that appeared black from a distance and was usually found very close to the stream. It had a yellow beak. This time we happened to spot it in sunlight and noticed that it wasn't actually black, but dark blue in color. And when it took flight, we got to hear its call as well. It was a shrill whistle-like sound. I guess this is where it gets its name - Blue Whistling Thrush. Great Barbet. The Great Barbet made another appearance behind our home. It too was attracted by the ripe Lonku fruits that lay scattered near the stream that flows behind our home. This time we managed to capture it in our camera. The bird is much more beautiful in reality though. This is really the largest Barbet you can find, and it sports all the colors Barbets are famous for - a little bit of green, a bit of blue, some purple, orange, yellow and also red.Blue-throated Barbet


18. Pakhal Wildlife Sanctuary, Telangana

Nestled amidst the lush forests of Telangana, Pakhal Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a rich diversity of bird species. The sanctuary's scenic reservoir and surrounding woodlands attract migratory birds such as painted storks, grey herons, and Indian cormorants, making it a paradise for birdwatchers in southern India.

Blue-throated Barbet, Birds add a lot of charm to our visits to our hometown in Himachal Pradesh. In fact, one of the most exciting aspects is the sheer variety of birds that one can spot there, right from our terrace. The secret behind this is the little stream that flows right behind our house. A dense vegetation that comprises of various types of trees, vines, and shrubs. Apart from leafy trees that provide shade and nesting opportunities, there were fruit trees and vines that provide food. There are also several types of insects that attract flycatchers, thrushes etc. Some of the trees have been trimmed recently so the warblers were very few. Blue-throated Barbet, The Blue-throated Barbet made a reappearance this time. The Chayote vine that my father-in-law had planted has spread across the stream and the Barbets are apparently nesting there and feeding on the chayotes every day. We had to be patient as the Barbets preferred to stay hidden in the vegetation, but finally our patience yielded results and it struck some nice poses. Blue-throated Barbet. Throughout our stay the only activity we saw this bird do was eating. And it made absolutely zero noise. Another observation was that this was a really restless bird and wouldn't stay at a single place for more than a few seconds. It would keep hopping to higher branches till it got out of the range of our basic camera and then relax. It would keep sitting there for hours, out in full view, keeping absolutely still. But yes, just out of the range of our camera. Indian Robin, The Indian Robin is a passerine bird that is widespread in the Indian subcontinent. The males of northern populations have a brown back, whereas those of the southern population are almost entirely black. They are commonly found in open scrub areas and often seen running along the ground or perching on low thorny shrubs and rocks. The long tail is usually held up to reveal the the chestnut undertail coverts.Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail. It is a misnomer to refer to this bird as a Fantail because the DNA analysis has placed this bird closer to the family of fairy flycatchers. And if you happen to observe the bird in action you will definitely realize that it is a flycatcher. The way it perches is very similar to the white-browed fantail, but a fantail behaves in a very different way. White-browed Fantail. The yellow-bellied fantail is actually a very cute little bird. It is tiny, only about 8cm long. It has a black eyeband, a bright yellow belly and dark brown / black upper parts. This is another quick bird that is not easy to capture in a camera. It took us quite a few tries and required a lot of patience to capture it on a camera. Grey-hooded Warbler. The White-browed Fantail, on the other hand, is almost 18cm long, more than double the size of the yellow-bellied fantail. This fan tail flits from branch to branch and is so called because it is often seen with its tail spread like a Japanese hand fan. This is an insectivorous bird. Grey-hooded Warbler. The grey-hooded warbler is a 10-12 cm long leaf warbler that has a sweet and cheerful call, which is music to one's ears. This little warbler eats everything from tiny spiders, catterpillars, insects, berries. It is found foraging for food in leafy branches. Grey-hooded Warbler. The grey-hooded warbler has bright yellow underparts and yellow streaks on wings and tail. It has white and grey stripes on its head and grey shades on its neck and tips of the wing and the tail. It is a pretty little bird and is a joy to have around your home. Common Tailorbird. We were at our grandparents' house and I happened to be looking out of their kitchen door when I spotted these cute little tailorbirds. At first I thought it was some sort of a warbler but wasn't sure. The birds flew away by the time I got my camera. However, one thing that I have come to appreciate about the mountains is that life there is mostly simple and often predictable. Therefore, I was fairly confident that the birds will be back at the same time the next day. I positioned myself close to the spot the next day at the same time, this time equipped with the camera and our inadequate lens. And as predicted, the birds were back at the same time. Grey Bushchat. The Grey Bushchat is a small passerine bird that is often seen perched on high wires. The male of the species is easily identifiable because of its black eyeband and white belly. The female is rufous brown in color and with much lighter eyeband. It feeds mostly on small insects, grasshoppers, etc, and is also known to occasionally feed on seeds.  Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail. The Grey Bushchat is found in the Himalayas, southern China, Taiwan, Nepal and mainland Southeast Asia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. Blue Whistling Thrush. One bird that we had seen often but hadn't really been able to identify was a large one that appeared black from a distance and was usually found very close to the stream. It had a yellow beak. This time we happened to spot it in sunlight and noticed that it wasn't actually black, but dark blue in color. And when it took flight, we got to hear its call as well. It was a shrill whistle-like sound. I guess this is where it gets its name - Blue Whistling Thrush. Great Barbet. The Great Barbet made another appearance behind our home. It too was attracted by the ripe Lonku fruits that lay scattered near the stream that flows behind our home. This time we managed to capture it in our camera. The bird is much more beautiful in reality though. This is really the largest Barbet you can find, and it sports all the colors Barbets are famous for - a little bit of green, a bit of blue, some purple, orange, yellow and also red.Common Tailorbird


19. Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Rajasthan

Formerly known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Keoladeo Ghana National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its avian diversity. The park's marshes, woodlands, and grasslands provide a habitat for migratory birds such as Siberian cranes, bar-headed geese, and Sarus cranes, making it a must-visit destination for birdwatchers in Rajasthan.

Blue-throated Barbet, Birds add a lot of charm to our visits to our hometown in Himachal Pradesh. In fact, one of the most exciting aspects is the sheer variety of birds that one can spot there, right from our terrace. The secret behind this is the little stream that flows right behind our house. A dense vegetation that comprises of various types of trees, vines, and shrubs. Apart from leafy trees that provide shade and nesting opportunities, there were fruit trees and vines that provide food. There are also several types of insects that attract flycatchers, thrushes etc. Some of the trees have been trimmed recently so the warblers were very few. Blue-throated Barbet, The Blue-throated Barbet made a reappearance this time. The Chayote vine that my father-in-law had planted has spread across the stream and the Barbets are apparently nesting there and feeding on the chayotes every day. We had to be patient as the Barbets preferred to stay hidden in the vegetation, but finally our patience yielded results and it struck some nice poses. Blue-throated Barbet. Throughout our stay the only activity we saw this bird do was eating. And it made absolutely zero noise. Another observation was that this was a really restless bird and wouldn't stay at a single place for more than a few seconds. It would keep hopping to higher branches till it got out of the range of our basic camera and then relax. It would keep sitting there for hours, out in full view, keeping absolutely still. But yes, just out of the range of our camera. Indian Robin, The Indian Robin is a passerine bird that is widespread in the Indian subcontinent. The males of northern populations have a brown back, whereas those of the southern population are almost entirely black. They are commonly found in open scrub areas and often seen running along the ground or perching on low thorny shrubs and rocks. The long tail is usually held up to reveal the the chestnut undertail coverts.Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail. It is a misnomer to refer to this bird as a Fantail because the DNA analysis has placed this bird closer to the family of fairy flycatchers. And if you happen to observe the bird in action you will definitely realize that it is a flycatcher. The way it perches is very similar to the white-browed fantail, but a fantail behaves in a very different way. White-browed Fantail. The yellow-bellied fantail is actually a very cute little bird. It is tiny, only about 8cm long. It has a black eyeband, a bright yellow belly and dark brown / black upper parts. This is another quick bird that is not easy to capture in a camera. It took us quite a few tries and required a lot of patience to capture it on a camera. Grey-hooded Warbler. The White-browed Fantail, on the other hand, is almost 18cm long, more than double the size of the yellow-bellied fantail. This fan tail flits from branch to branch and is so called because it is often seen with its tail spread like a Japanese hand fan. This is an insectivorous bird. Grey-hooded Warbler. The grey-hooded warbler is a 10-12 cm long leaf warbler that has a sweet and cheerful call, which is music to one's ears. This little warbler eats everything from tiny spiders, catterpillars, insects, berries. It is found foraging for food in leafy branches. Grey-hooded Warbler. The grey-hooded warbler has bright yellow underparts and yellow streaks on wings and tail. It has white and grey stripes on its head and grey shades on its neck and tips of the wing and the tail. It is a pretty little bird and is a joy to have around your home. Common Tailorbird. We were at our grandparents' house and I happened to be looking out of their kitchen door when I spotted these cute little tailorbirds. At first I thought it was some sort of a warbler but wasn't sure. The birds flew away by the time I got my camera. However, one thing that I have come to appreciate about the mountains is that life there is mostly simple and often predictable. Therefore, I was fairly confident that the birds will be back at the same time the next day. I positioned myself close to the spot the next day at the same time, this time equipped with the camera and our inadequate lens. And as predicted, the birds were back at the same time. Grey Bushchat. The Grey Bushchat is a small passerine bird that is often seen perched on high wires. The male of the species is easily identifiable because of its black eyeband and white belly. The female is rufous brown in color and with much lighter eyeband. It feeds mostly on small insects, grasshoppers, etc, and is also known to occasionally feed on seeds.  Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail. The Grey Bushchat is found in the Himalayas, southern China, Taiwan, Nepal and mainland Southeast Asia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. Blue Whistling Thrush. One bird that we had seen often but hadn't really been able to identify was a large one that appeared black from a distance and was usually found very close to the stream. It had a yellow beak. This time we happened to spot it in sunlight and noticed that it wasn't actually black, but dark blue in color. And when it took flight, we got to hear its call as well. It was a shrill whistle-like sound. I guess this is where it gets its name - Blue Whistling Thrush. Great Barbet. The Great Barbet made another appearance behind our home. It too was attracted by the ripe Lonku fruits that lay scattered near the stream that flows behind our home. This time we managed to capture it in our camera. The bird is much more beautiful in reality though. This is really the largest Barbet you can find, and it sports all the colors Barbets are famous for - a little bit of green, a bit of blue, some purple, orange, yellow and also red.Great Barbet


20. Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Gujarat

Located in the arid landscapes of Kutch, this sanctuary is a vital habitat for the endangered Great Indian Bustard. During the winter months, the sanctuary also attracts a variety of migratory birds such as houbara bustards, steppe eagles, and larks, providing birdwatchers with a unique opportunity to observe rare and elusive species.

These bird sanctuaries, scattered across India's diverse landscapes, offer a glimpse into the rich avian diversity of the country. Whether you're a seasoned birder or a nature enthusiast, these sanctuaries provide an opportunity to connect with nature and witness the beauty of migratory birds in their natural habitats.Almost fully grown babies of a painted stork standing in the nest


These bird sanctuaries, scattered across India's diverse landscapes, offer a glimpse into the rich avian diversity of the country. Whether you're a seasoned birder or a nature enthusiast, these sanctuaries provide an opportunity to connect with nature and witness the beauty of migratory birds in their natural habitats.

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