Storks, Ibis To Owls: Soar High At The Best Bird Sanctuaries In India

    With sparrows disappearing and crows proving to be our only plainly visible winged companions in cities, our bird watching pursuits are bound to take a beating. To revive your love, we recommend that you venture out to sanctuaries around Bangalore and in other states. At many of the country’s best sanctuaries you can spot indigenous species rubbing feathers with migratory birds from Siberia, Central Asia, Sri Lanka, and many other faraway lands. LBB shares a list of bird sanctuaries you should fly by.

    Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

    One of Bangalore’s favourite picnic spots, Ranganathittu is Karnataka’s largest bird sanctuary. Made up of six islets by the River Cauvery, the sanctuary is a nesting ground for birds and also sees them flock in during the migratory period. You can take boat rides across the waters to spot painted storks, common spoonbills, the black-headed ibis, Oriental darters and herons.

    Best Time To Visit: March to May

    Distance from Bangalore: 130 kms (approx.)

    Nearest Airport: Bangalore


    Hailed by naturalist and ornithologist, Dr Salim Ali as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India, Thattekad is Kerala’s first bird sanctuary. Comprising green hills and greener forests, this bird paradise is home to Ashy Wood Swallows, Ceylon Frogmouths, Whiskered Terns, Plum Headed Parakeets, Cormorants, and many other winged species. Thattekad is also famous as a ‘Cuckoo Paradise’ since you can spot a variety of them including the Drongo Cuckoo, Indian Hawk Cuckoo, Large Hawk Cuckoo and the common Indian Cuckoo here.

    Best Time To Visit: October to March

    Distance from Bangalore: 558 kms (approx.)

    Nearest Airport: Kochi

    Keoladeo Ghana National Park

    Once known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (it’s located in Bharatpur, Rajasthan), Keoladeo is a must-visit for bird watchers. It’s been declared a World Heritage Site as over 230 species of birds call it home. During winters especially, the Gangetic Plain that’s part of the National Park turns to a breeding ground for the famed Sarus Cranes as well as herons, storks, common teals, sandpipers, and migrant ducks. Keoladeo is the only regular wintering ground for the critically endangered Siberian Crane in India, so, make sure you lookout for them during your trip here.

    Best Time To Visit: November to March

    Distance from Bangalore: 1,975 kms (approx.)

    Nearest Airport: Jaipur

    Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

    By the banks of the Vembanad Lake, this sanctuary is spread across Kerala’s famous backwaters. If you count bird watching as one of your interests, Kumarakom is particularly appealing because it attracts a variety of migratory birds from the Himalayas and Siberia. While here, do keep your eyes peeled for Kingfishers, the White Ibis, Brahminy Kites, flycatchers, spot-billed ducks, Ospreys, and Marsh Harriers.

    Best Time To Visit: June to August

    Distance from Bangalore: 588 kms (approx.)

    Nearest Airport: Kochi

    Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

    The oldest water bird sanctuary in the country {steps were taken to develop it way back in 1798}, Vedanthangal is dotted by green islands surrounded by water. On your trip here, you can watch thousands of birds (over 30,000, sources say) take flight. Grey wagtails, blue-winged teals, sandpipers, and grey pelicans can be spotted. Vedanthangal should be on your must-visit list since it is small in area and is packed with birds.

    Best Time To Visit: October to January

    Distance from Bangalore: 326 kms (approx.)

    Nearest Airport: Chennai

    Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary

    The second largest lagoon in the world, the brackish waters of Odisha’s famous Chilka Lake is a hotbed for migratory birds. So much so, that it is host to over 160 species of birds during the migratory season and is known to be the largest wintering grounds in India. Arrive at Chilka and you’ll be able to see winged visitors from as far as the Caspian Sea, Russia, and the Aral Sea. White-bellied sea eagles, purple moorhen, flamingos, and jacanas are just some of the birds you can spot here.

    Best Time To Visit: November to February  

    Distance from Bangalore: 1,135 kms (approx.)

    Nearest Airport: Bhubaneswar

    Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary

    The Nalsarovar Lake and its surrounding marshes is a bird paradise that sees a mix of migratory and indigenous feathered creatures fly by. You can settle down into rickety boats and sail across the lake to observe rosy pelicans, flamingos, crakes, gerbens, and bitterns.

    Best Time To Visit: December to January

    Distance from Bangalore: 1, 547  kms (approx.)

    Nearest Airport: Ahmedabad

    Mayani Bird Sanctuary

    Maharashtra’s Satara district is where you will find the Mayani Bird Sanctuary. It is a wetland sanctuary and its centre is an old dam that attracts birds from near and afar. We recommend that you stop by to discover species like the flamingos that come in from Siberia,  northern shovelers, kingfishers, coots, and the black ibis.

    Best Time To Visit: November to January

    Distance from Bangalore: 716  kms (approx.)

    Nearest Airport: Karad

    Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary

    Zealously protected by the surrounding villages, the Koonthankulam sanctuary is South India’s largest reserve for breeding water birds. Over here, you can set your sights on bar-headed geese, sandpipers, teals, and coots from Siberia. And also, white flamingos from North India and white storks from Central Asia.

    Best Time To Visit: November to April

    Distance from Bangalore: 606  kms (approx.)

    Nearest Airport: Tuticorin

    Kokkare Bellur

    The village of Kokkare Bellur, not very far from Bangalore, is known for its love and its conservation efforts of the ‘near threatened’ painted stork {which lends the town its name} and the spot billed pelicans. A visit to the village and the surrounding water bodies not just gets you a sight of these birds but also showcases how unbreakable the bond between the villagers and the birds, who are considered as harbingers of good luck and prosperity.

    Best Time To Visit: November to June

    Distance from Bangalore: 86.5  kms (approx.)

    Nearest Airport: Bangalore