Birding in India

Birds in India
Birding in India
Birds in India
Birding Tour Experience
Bird Sanctuaries in India
Assan Barrage Bird Sanctuary
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary
Corbett National Park
Desert National Park
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary
Other Bird Sanctuaries in India

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Birding Tours
6 Days India Birding Tour
12 Days India Birding Tour
13 Days India Birding Tour
15 Days South India Birding Tour
16 Days South India Birding Tour
18 Days North East Birding Tour
20 Days India Birding Tour
22 Days India Birding Tour
India Bird Watching Tour
Assam Birding Tour
Goa Birding Tour
Gujarat Birding Tour
Himachal Bird Watching Tour
Himalaya Birding Tour
India Birding Tour
Nepal Bhutan Birding Tour
North East India Birding Tour
North India Bird Watching Tour
Sikkim Bird Watching Tour

India's varied environment is the home of the vast range
of animals and some rare species of birds like Rufous-
chinned and white crested laughing thrush, rufous-
breasted accentor, greater yellow-naped flameback,
blue whistling thrush and red-billed blue magpie.

Indian Birds

Birds in India

Great Cormorant
Although less restricted to lowland waters, the Great Cormorant is neither as numerous nor as gregarious as its smaller relatives. Cormorants hunt fish by diving from the surface, often making a little upward jump first. The stiff tail is used as a rudder under water. Despite being aquatic birds, their plumage is coarse and not particularly water-resistant, and much time is spent on sandbanks or tree-stumps with the wings held out to dry. It occurs throughout the area, breeding in large waterside colonies.

Great Cormorant, Periyar, India

Darters are the most highly specialized of underwater fishers. They swim with the body submerged, the small head and sinuous neck resulting in its other name of Snakebird. Fish are speared with a sudden straightening of the neck, the curiously formed neck bones acting like a trigger. Darters are less sociable than Cormorants, and often seen singly. They are strong fliers, frequently soaring, the long tail fanned out. They breeds colonially in the lowlands.

Little Cormorant
Little Cormorant is the most abundant of its family. It gathers in huge numbers at some waterside breeding colonies and also nests in trees in village compounds some way from water. It constantly consorts with the Shag in a jostling, splashing throng to hairy shoals of fish. It flies strongly, the neck outstretched, the wing beats interspersed with short glides. The nestlings are ugly and scrawny, and noisily pester their parents to regurgitate the food in their crops, plunging their bills in to feed.

Bar Headed Goose
Bar – Headed Goose are common in winters in northern and central India, but rarer further south. Usually in large, wary flocks on jheels or by rivers, it is frequently shot owing to its depredations on crops. The flocks fly in a long, strung-out V formation, and the wild musical honking is best heard when the birds are fighting to or from their feeding ground. It is known to fly at very high altitudes when on migration over the Himalayas.


Little Egret
The fashion for wearing “aigrettes” – the beautiful plumes grown by egrets in the breeding season – nearly led to its extinction in certain areas some years ago happily, however, many remain in India to adorn the marshes and jheels where they stalk about after fish, frogs and insects. When feeding in shallow water they sometimes dash about wildly probably to disturb their prey. They fly with slow, steady flaps, the neck well tucked in, and in large waterside colonies with other species. They are resident throughout the area in the plains and lower hills.

Grey Heron
Grey Heron is a more solitary bird away from its breeding colonies than the egrets,

Little Egret, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, India

it is nevertheless a familiar figure whether by lowland pond or hill stream. A skilled and patient fisherman, its gawky shape is distinctive when poised with neck outstretched at the water’s edge, or when beating slowly across the sky on broad wings. The large stick nests are usually placed in tall trees, or by the water in reed beds or mangroves. The scraggy nestlings are fed on regurgitated food, which they solicit by tugging at the parent’s bill.

Painted Stork
Painted Stork can be seen at inland waters in the plains, it is mainly a fish-eater, and often wades along with the half-opened bill ploughing the water. Usually seen in small numbers, except at the teeming breeding colonies.

White Stork
White Stork is a winter visitor to India, rarer in the south than the north and west. Usually in small parties by jheels, marshes or wet fields where a variety of food is taken, including frogs and grasshoppers. Migrating flocks make use of rising hot air currents – “thermals” – to soar and gain height.

Adjutant Stork
Adjutant Stork is an impressive bird, whether stalking over marshland, or soaring on its huge wings, often in company with vultures. An avid scavenger of any refuse, offal or carcase, it also feeds on fish, frogs or snakes. The function of the curious inflatable neck pouch is not known, although it is certainly not capable of storing food as might be imagined. Nesting in Bangladesh and Assam, this stork wanders widely across northern India.


Its peculiar bill, flattened and broadened at the tip, is adapted for feeding in shallow water. As the bird moves for ward, the bill is swept from side to side, sifting the bottom for small aquatic animals. They are sociable and inactive. Spoonbills spend much of the day standing around in marshes and swamps. They breed colonially with herons and cormorants, and occur throughout the

Spoonbill, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, India

Greater Flamingo
Like the Spoonbill, the Greater Flamingoes have a specialized beak for sifting small animal matter from shallow water, but does this by curving the long neck so that the bill is upside down, pointing back at the feet, and moving it from side to side. The only birding area known in India is in Kutch, where many birds congregate to build their mud-pie nests on the salt flats. In winter the birds may be seen on jheels throughout the area; rarely in the east.

Cotton Teal
Cotton Teal is the smallest duck in the world. It is widespread in the better watered areas of India except in the south-west, although nowhere really abundant, Usually in pairs or small flocks on weedy thanks or jheels, where it feeds on water plants. The nest is placed in a hole in a tree. Although not adapted at either diving or walking, it flies fast.

Monal, the magnificent pheasant haunts the upper valleys of the Himalayas, rarely descending below about 2000 m, even in winter. It is especially partial to the rocky alpine meadows where they are interested by clumps of fir or rhododendron, and here the birds dig for bulbs and roots with their powerful beaks. They tend to keep in small parties, and are very shy, shooting off down-hill when disturbed, with a loud whistling call. When displaying, the cock fans and raises his rufous tail, droops his wings to reveal the white back – patch, and fluffs out the brilliant iridescent neck feathers.

Kalij Pheasant

Kalij Pheasant are the most familiar Himalayan pheasants, being less restricted to high or remote areas. It occurs from Kashmir to Bhutan and Assam in several different races, being distinguished by the amount of white in the plumage. The white – crested bird illustrated is from the west Himalayas, the darker bird from Nepal. It is fond of the thick undergrowth of jungle ravines. But also frequents cultivation around hill villages. It is more active at dawn and dusk, and can then sometimes be seen in clearings or along tracks. Small parties keep in touch with a low clucking call, and the cock makes a deep drumming noise when displaying by vibrating his wings rapidly.


Sarus Crane
It is difficult to overlook this impressive and stately bird – nearly as tall as a man – on the jheels and marshes where it lives. It pairs for life, the two birds always stating so close together as to have inspired much folklore about their fidelity, and it by common consent, allowed to live unmolested. It is, in consequence, much less wary than the two migratory cranes. It has a loud trumpeting call, uttered with the neck and bill stretched up, the male

Sarus Crane, Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, India

often fluffing the back feathers and secondary up while pressing the primaries stiffly down. One bird of a pair always answers the other’s call. In the nuptial display the two birds dance round each other with little jumps and bows, the whole performance lasting several minutes. It is widely distributed across northern India from Pakistan to Assam.

Common Crane
Grey cranes found in winter in flocks are likely to be of this or the next species, both being migratory. The sight of a large flock in flight to most impressive, being enhanced by the loud resonant trumpeting calls. Found on flooded meadows or jheels, cranes are constantly on the alert, and feed mostly in the mornings and evenings in crops, where they can do much damage. They visit the plains country of northern India between October and March.

Demoiselle Crane
Breeds over a smaller area of Eurasia than the Common Crane, but visits India in perhaps even larger numbers. Most common in the north-west, becoming rare in the south and Bangladesh. It prefers rather more arid and stony habitats to the larger bird, although both species may often be found together.

Great Indian Bustard

Now becoming rare in the dry, open grasslands of north-west India, it was once common and ranged through Pakistan and Peninsular India. The spread of cultivation is one adverse factor, but it is still shot from vehicles despite the evident need for its preservation, as it occurs nowhere else in the world. It is usually seen in small flocks, but they are very shy and wary, and often prefer to run rather than fly when disturbed. The male has an elaborate display when the neck feathers are fluffed out and an inflatable pouch of skin expanded, the tail is spread and elevated, and the wings dropped, while he pirouettes around an apparently uninterested hen. The male is about a third larger than the female, and weights up to 14 kg.

Bengal Florican
Found in the grassland areas north and east of the Ganges. The cock has a distinctive display flight, watched by several hens, when he jumps into the air and floats slowly down again. He also displays on the ground, strutting round the hen with expanded tail. Although best adapted for funning or walking, bustards have large powerful wings, and are strong, steady fliers, holding the neck stretched out. Owing to their good eating qualities, both this bird and the Likh are extensively shot.


The most aquatic of the rail family, it has broad, flat lobes along the sides of its toes, and paddles more smoothly and efficiently than a Moorhen. When taking off from the water, it has to patter along before getting airborne properly, but then flies well. Frequents open waters, gathering in large herds in winter in Pakistan and the north-west. It is found throughout the area, the resident population being

Coot, India
augmented by winter visitors.

Purple Moorhen
It is fascinating to see this apparently heavy and clumsy rail clambering about easily in reed-beds, grasping the stems with its long toes. Rarely seen in flight, it spends most of the time durking in thick, swampy vegetation, often in small parties. It shares the family habit of flicking the tail up to display the white coverts underneath. Found throughout the area south of the Himalayas, but uncommon in Kashmir.

Common Sandpiper
Breeding by hill streams in the western Himalayas, Common Sandpiper is a common winter visitor throughout the rest of the area. Often seen singly on rocky or sandy river banks, creeks, tank margins or the coast, it bobs nervously as it moves about. When it flies out low over the water, the wings look bowed, and are beaten shallowly to give a flickering appearance.

Spotted Dove
Very widely distributed in southern Asia, Spotted Dove is found throughout our area, frequenting rather lush wooded countryside. It is a popular cage bird, and is familiar around villages and gardens, where it walks about on the paths picking up grain. It has a longer series of cooing phrases than the Collared Dove.

Blue Rock Pigeon

Abundant around cities and towns throughout the area, there are still wild populations of this pigeon, which live around ruins or cliffs, feeding in nearby fields. The rich throaty coo, and strutting, neck-swelling display of the cock are well known to all.


Rose-Ringed Parakeet
The most abundant and well-known of its family, this parakeet is to be found throughout the area in light woodland, parks, gardens and cultivated areas. It is a pest of some importance, as the noisy flocks do much damage to crops and fruit. Although beautifully adapted for climbing about in trees, with two toes pointing forwards and two behind, they sometimes visit the ground, sidling about with a rolling gait on their short legs. The nest is placed in a hole in a tree, those with small entrances being suitably enlarged, or sometimes in cracks or holes in masonry. These and other parakeets are favourite cage birds, but are not especially good at learning to speak.

Jungle Owlet
More of a thick woodland and jungle dweller than the spotted Owlet, Jungle Owlet occurs from the Himalayas south to Sri Lanka, though not in the north-west.

Rose-Ringed Parakeet, India

Common Kingfisher
Perhaps less shy than is larger relatives; this kingfisher is found throughout the area. It is often to be seen perched on a stick or branch overlooking a ditch or pool, watching intently for fish. It nests in a tunnel by the waterside.

Great Pied Hornbill

Great Pied Hornbill occurs in small parties in forest in the Himalayan foothills, North East, and South-west India, but is declining in numbers as a result of de-forestation and shooting. In flight, the wings make a loud droning sound – often the only indication of the bird as it flies over tree-tops in heavy forest, and it also has a loud, deep cackling note. It is shy, and keeps much to the trees, only rarely descending o the ground, and feeds largely on fruit.

Indian Pipit
Indian Pipit is common throughout the area, on short grass, cultivated or fallow land. Generally in pairs or small parties, it runs quickly over the grass to snap at a small moth or beetle, then stretches upright to survey the surroundings. Has a thin, double call-note.


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