India is the land of the most amazing and splendid bird sanctuaries that are famous not only for their panoramic scenic beauty but also for their rich and exotic biodiversity, especially bird species.
All bird sanctuaries in India are open throughout the year from morning to evening. Though the breeding season for most varies between June and September, the best time to visit and explore these places is the winter season. It is in this season that one can spot colourful, vibrant, and rare migratory birds in some of the most popular and best bird sanctuaries in India.
Popular Bird Sanctuaries of India
These are some of the best bird sanctuaries of India which one must visit to witness the beauty of the varied species of birds who migrate from corners of the world.
1. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Rajasthan
Presently known as Keoladeo National Park or Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur is one of the famous bird sanctuaries in India. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a protected sanctuary, this avifauna sanctuary in Rajasthan houses more than 360 bird species.
Bharatpur Sanctuary is also known for the animal species that include, among others, Sambar, Nilgai, Boar, and Chital. The place is a delight for nature and wildlife enthusiasts.
Birds found: Various species of cranes, pelicans, geese, ducks, eagles, hawks, shanks, stints, wagtails, warblers, wheatears, flycatchers, buntings, larks, and pipits
Timings: 8 am – 5 pm
Entry fee: INR 50 per person for Indians | INR 400 per person for foreigners | INR 100 for rickshaw rides
2. Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, Haryana
Spread over sprawling 1.43 sq km, Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary is a popular bird reserve, located in Haryana. This habitat is listed among the most popular bird sanctuaries of India and is home to more than 250 species of resident and migratory birds. Numerous nomadic birds move here from Siberia, Russia, Turkey, and Eastern Europe during winters.
Birds found: Black-necked stork, cattle egret, laughing dove Indian roller, white-throated kingfisher, great egret, red collared dove, red wattled lapwing, rock pigeon, rose-ringed parakeet, common mynah, and little egret
Timings: 6 am – 4:30 pm
Entry fee: INR 5 per person for Indians | INR 40 per person for foreigners
3. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Goa
The bird sanctuary has been named after the eminent ornithologist Salim Moizuddin Abdul Ali. The narrow stretch of mangrove forest lies along the estuarine part of Mandovi River and the western tip of the Chorao Island in Goa.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is one of the most famous bird sanctuaries in India and is accessible by regular ferry services. The bird watching tower offers ample scope to watch not only the various species of birds, but also other species of fauna that include foxes, jackals, marsh crocodiles, and mudskipper fish.
Birds found: Drongos, cormorants, Malabar trogons, kingfishers, sandpipers, woodpeckers, white egrets, purple herons, curlews, mynahs, and kites
Timings: 6 am – 6 pm
Entry fee: INR 10 per person for Indians | INR 100 per person for foreigners
4. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kerala
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary – nestled on the banks of the mesmerising Vembanad Lake – is spread over a sprawling area of 14 acres that offers the enchanting beauty of the surrounding lush greenery. Ranked among the most famous bird sanctuaries in India, it is home to numerous species of resident and seasonal birds. In fact, bird watching is one of the most interesting things to do in Kumarakom. Furthermore, the pristine Pathiramanal island in the lake is a perfect site for migratory birds coming from Siberia and Russia.
Birds found: Paradise flycatchers, pheasant tailed jacanas, golden-backed woodpeckers, parrots, teals, larks, owls, herons, egrets, and kingfishers
Timings: 6 am – 6 pm
Entry fee: INR 50 per person for Indians | INR 100 per person for foreigners
Suggested Read: 20 Best Resorts In Kumarakom
5. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu
Literally meaning the ‘hamlet of the hunters’, Vedanthangal is located in Kanchipuram. This is Tamil Nadu’s best entry in the list of famous bird sanctuaries in India. Spread over 30 acres of land, this oldest and smallest bird sanctuary is the site of almost 40,000 migratory birds visiting every year. The ideal time to visit this sanctuary is October to January.
Birds found: Pintails, garganeys, grey wagtails, blue-winged teals, common sandpipers, spoonbills, and herons
Timings: 6 am – 6 pm
Entry fee: INR 5 per child | INR 25 per person for adults
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6. Kaundinya Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
Located about 86 km from Horsley Hills and stretching over 358 sq km, Kaundinya Bird Sanctuary is a delight for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers. This is one of the popular bird sanctuaries of India and is known for its vibrant and rich biodiversity.
In addition to the wide variety of endemic and migratory birds, there are elephants, porcupines, sloth bears, spotted bears, tigers, pumas, jungle cats, and monitor lizards.
Birds found: Grey pelicans, rosy pelicans, painted storks, cockatiels, and budgerigars
Timings: Dawn to dusk
Entry fee: None. Entry to Kaundinya Bird Sanctuary is free.
7. Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary, Orissa
Chilika – the largest brackish water lake in Asia – is home to numerous species of birds. From common to rare, and residential to migratory, the sanctuary houses a huge variety.
In addition to being one of the popular bird sanctuaries in India, Chilika Lake is a popular tourist attraction where people get mesmerised with the natural backdrop and spot beautiful birds while boating. Irrawaddy dolphins, prawns, crabs, limbless lizards, and crustaceans are some of the animals you can spot here.
Birds found: Eagles, geese, and flamingos
Timings: 6 am – 7 pm
Entry fee: None. Entry to Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary is free.
8. Mayani Bird Sanctuary, Maharashtra
Mayani Bird Sanctuary, located in the Vaduj town of Maharashtra, is a wetland ecosystem that is rich in biodiversity. This is a drought prone region with local water bodies. This enables the growth of scattered forests and cactus. The place houses approximately 400 migratory birds that are best spotted during the winter months of November to January.
Birds found: Flamingoes, coot, spoonbills, painted storks, black ibis, kingfishers, and brahminy ducks
Timings: Sunrise to sunset
Entry fee: None. Entry to Mayani Bird Sanctuary is free.
9. Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Gujarat
Comprising the Kutch xerophytic grassland, the Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary is one of the popular bird sanctuaries in India. As the nomenclature goes, the majority bird population here is of the Great Indian Bustard – a neutral colored ground-dwelling bird species with a long neck and ostrich-like long legs. Along with these, the sanctuary is home to nilgais, chinkaras, desert cats, and jungle cats.
Birds found: Great Indian Bustards, Houbara Bustards, Florican Bustard, Macqueen’s Bustards (winter bird), and eagles
Timings: Dawn to dusk
Entry fee: None. Entry is free but guided tours are chargeable.
10. Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat
Nal Sarovar, located 60 km from Ahmedabad, is India’s largest water bird sanctuary. Known for its wetland vegetation, this 120 sq km avifauna sanctuary offers an opportunity to spot numerous seasonal & resident birds and other fauna. Visitors, especially bird lovers and nature freaks, can hire a boat to roam around the lake and spot different birds.
Birds found: Geese, ducks, spoonbills, eagles, pelicans, and flamingos
Timings: 6 am – 6 pm
Boating charges: INR 150 per hour per person
Lesser Known Sanctuaries In India
These are some of the lesser known sanctuaries in India which people haven’t heard much about but these places are worth a visit.
11. Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh
Nestled in the Unnao region of Uttar Pradesh, Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary is situated around a freshwater lake that offers habitat to more than 250 species of nomadic and domestic birds.
Birds found: Greylag goose, pintail, and cotton teal, red crested pochard, open bill stork, white ibis, black winged stilts, dabchick, and purple moorhen
12. Samaspur Bird Sanctuary in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh
Located 120 km from Lucknow, Samaspur is a reserved bird preservation area that covers 780 hectares of land. It is an abode to birds – resident, migratory, common as well as endangered species.
Birds found: Vultures, kingfishers, spoonbills, whistling teals, and comb ducks
13. Bakhira Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh
Bakhira is a large natural floodplain and wetland, established in 1980. This is among the not so famous bird sanctuaries in India that is home to some unique bird species. Surrounding a natural lake and village by the same name, the place is also a habitat for golden jackals, mongooses, and jungle cats.
Birds found: Purple moorhen, swamphen, and kaima
14. Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala
The first ever bird sanctuary of Kerala, Thattekad comprises of evergreen lowland forest by the banks of the Periyar river. With the immensely rich variety of birds, the place has been aptly described as the “richest bird habitat in peninsular India” by the eminent ornithologist Salim Ali.
Birds found: Indian pitta, orange headed thrush, large billed leaf warbler, Indian cuckoo, Jordan’s nightjar, cormorant, and oriental darter
15. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka
Ranganathittu is the largest bird sanctuary of Karnataka. Located near Mysore, the sanctuary comprises of six small islands by the banks of the river Cauvery. In addition to the large variety of birds, the region is known for some significant animal species like monitor lizard, mugger crocodile, flying fox, and Indian grey mongoose.
Birds found: Oriental darters, streak throated swallows, stork billed kingfishers, Indian shags, and whistling ducks
16. Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
Located in Nellore, Pulicat Bird Sanctuary is one of the most famous wildlife and bird sanctuaries in India. The Pulicat Lake is the second largest freshwater lake after Chilika. A wide variety of birds, fishes, worms, molluscs, and prawns are frequently seen here.
Birds found: Marsh sandpiper, gadwall, shoveler, black tailed godwit, and garganey
17. Uppalapadu Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
The Uppalapadu Bird Sanctuary at Kolleru Lake is a natural habitat for a number of bird species. Also, a large number of drifting birds flock to this area during the winter months.
Birds found: Avocets, painted storks, gadwalls, pelicans, and wigeons
18. Najafgarh Drain Bird Sanctuary, Delhi
Located by the Najafgarh Drain, this is a wetland ecosystem and one of the oldest bird sanctuaries in India near Delhi. It is known for plenty of wandering birds, many of which are now endangered. Also, cobras, monitor lizards, reptiles, jackals, porcupines, and many more species of fauna are also found here.
Birds found: Whistling ducks, Indian pond herons, great egrets, spoonbills, pelicans, ducks, vultures, and gadwalls
19. Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary, West Bengal
Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary is located in the rural areas of Kolkata outskirts. It is owned and managed by the government and is open for the public visit between 7 am – 4 pm every day.
Birds found: Common hawk, blue throated flycatcher, fish eagle, Asian koel, black headed bulbul, collared scops owl, and little spider hunter
20. Jawaharlal Nehru Bustard Sanctuary Solapur, Maharashtra
Jawaharlal Nehru Bustard Sanctuary is located near Solapur and boasts of its vast population of Indian bustard. Months from August to January are the best months to visit this natural reserve, popularly known as Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary. In addition to the Indian bustard, species of animals like common mongoose, wolf, and Indian fox are commonly seen.
Birds found: Indian bustard, spot-billed duck, shikra, grey francolin, laughing love, and snake eagle
Enticed by the list of bird sanctuaries in India? Start by booking a holiday to India and include one of these Indian bird sanctuaries in your itinerary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How many bird sanctuaries are there in India?
A. There are around 20 famous bird sanctuaries in India which are known for being home to varied species of birds.
Q. Which bird sanctuary in India is famous for Indian bustards?
A. The Bharatpur bird sanctuary or the Keoladeo Ghana National Park located in Rajasthan is one of the famous places to spot an Indian Bustard.
Q. Which is the first bird sanctuary of India?
A. The Ghana Bird Sanctuary is the oldest and first bird sanctuary in India.
Q. Which is the largest bird sanctuary in India?
A. The Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary is the largest and one of the famous bird sanctuary in India which is located in Gujarat.
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