Treat The Bird-Watcher In You By Visiting India's 5 Most Popular Bird Sanctuaries

Keoladeo National Park
Keoladeo National ParkWikipedia

Sometimes, I just stare out into the vast blue sky and imagine what life would have been like if I were a bird. I’m sure some of you have imagined so, as well. Would you be a mighty and dangerous carnivorous bird like the eagle soaring high up in the skies and scanning for prey or a docile one like a pigeon mostly found in the company of friends? Would you sit atop a lofty branch and admire the view in front of you or keep flying to distant lands, with the spirit of adventure rushing through you?

I remember when I was probably six or seven years old, many sparrows used to nestle inside this small hole in the corner of my terrace. I used to feed them corn and talk gibberish with them. Those days are long gone. Even bird-watching is becoming rarer with each passing today. It is hard to spot birds in polluted urban skies. However, if bird-watching tickles your fancy, just as it does mine, there are some wonderful places in India where you can spot exquisite birds —from passerines to migratory birds, you shall find a diverse variety. So what are you waiting for? Get your cameras and binoculars ready, and visit these wonderful bird sanctuaries in India.

I. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Rajasthan)

Greater flamingos at  Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary,
Greater flamingos at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary,Windows 10 Spotlight Images

Currently known as Keoladeo National Park or Keoladeo Ghana National Park. this sanctuary is the most iconic spot to find birds in Rajasthan. The place is covered by some of the most luxurious Indian train routes. It covers 28 sq. km. area and is a habitat for more than 360 species of birds. It comprises an amazing Indo-Gigantic plain with a beautiful ecosystem. Other than being home to some of the most exotic birds in the world, here you can also find more than 300 species of flowering plants, 13 species of snakes, lizards, turtles, amphibians, fishes, and more.

Types of birds found: Different species of pelicans, cranes, ducks, geese, hawks, eagles, shanks, herons, cormorants, wagtails, stints, warblers, flycatchers, wheatears, buntings, larks, pipits.

Timing: 08:00 A.M. to 05:00 P.M.

Entry price: INR 50 to 400

II. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Goa

A bird and a crocodile spotted at Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Goa
A bird and a crocodile spotted at Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, GoaExploreBees

This sanctuary is named after our country’s most eminent ornithologist Salim Moizuddin Abdul Ali. It is home to various local and migratory birds. The bird sanctuary is in the narrow stretch of mangrove forest along the Mandovi River and the western tip of Chorao Island. Diverse birds, flora and fauna, along with animals such as jackals, foxes, crocodiles, etc thrive in this sanctuary.

Types of birds found: Kingfishers, Drongos, Malabar Trogons, Cormorants, Sandpipers, White Egrets, Woodpeckers, Purple Herons, Mynahs, Curlews, Kites, and others

Timing: 06:00 A.M. to 06:00 P.M.

Entry price: INR 10 per to 100

III. Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat

A bird spotted at Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat
A bird spotted at Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, GujaratAhmedabad Tourism

Ahmedabad is home to India’s largest water bird sanctuary. The sanctuary is famous for its wetland vegetation and it spans 120 sq. km of avifauna. You can spot a number of seasonal and resident birds along with other species. This bird sanctuary in India is a habitat for more than 250 species of wetland birds during the spring and winter seasons. During the winters, a number of migratory birds are found here too. Apart from bird-watching you can also enjoy boating and other fun activities here.

Types of migratory birds found during winter: Pelicans, Heron, Flamingos, Brahminy Duck, White Storks, and others

Types of birds that reside here: Spoonbills, Geese, eagles, ducks, and others

Best time to visit: November to February

Timing: 06:00 A.M. to 06:00 P.M.

Boating price: INR 150 per hour per person

IV. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

A bird spotted at the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kerala
A bird spotted at the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, KeralaKerala Tourism

Tucked away on the banks of the gorgeous Vembanad Lake, this sanctuary is spread over a sprawling area of 14 acres that offers the enchanting beauty of the surrounding lush greenery and the famous backwaters of Kerala. The sanctuary is home to several species of resident and seasonal birds. The pristine Pathiramanal island in the heart of the lake is an ideal place for birds migrating from Siberia and Russia.

Types of birds found: Pheasant Tailed Jacanas, Paradise flycatchers, parrots, Golden-Backed Woodpeckers, Teals, Owls, Egrets, Larks, Herons, Kingfishers, and others

Timing: 06:00 A.M. to 06:00 P.M.

Entry price: INR 50 per to 100

V. Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary, Orissa

Birds spotted at Lake Chilika
Birds spotted at Lake ChilikaOutlook India

Lake Chilika, the largest brackish water lake in Asia, is home to various diverse species of birds. From common to rare, and residential to migratory, the sanctuary has an immense variety. In addition to being one of the popular bird sanctuaries in India, While boating down the mesmerizing lake, you can indulge in bird-watching. Other than birds, some of the other animals you can spot here are Irrawaddy dolphins, prawns, crabs, limbless lizards, and crustaceans.

Types of birds found: Eagles, Bar-headed Geese, Flamingos, Black-tailed Godwits, Herons, and Great knots

Best Time To Visit: October to March

Ticket Price: None. Entry to Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary is free.

Timings: 06:00 A.M. to 06:00 P.M.

(The above list does not include all the bird sanctuaries in India but five of the most popular ones).