With vanishing sparrows {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 venturing out to various bird sanctuaries across the country. At the best of them, you can spot indigenous species rubbing feathers with migratory birds from Siberia, central Asia, Sri Lanka, and many other faraway lands. Here’s a list of bird sanctuaries you should definitely fly by.

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Ranganthittu-i Soar High At These 10 Bird Sanctuaries In India

Image courtesy: _paVan_ via Flickr

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, Black-Headed Ibis, Oriental darters and herons.

Best Time To Visit: March to May

Nearest Airport: Bangalore


Thattekad-i Soar High At These 10 Bird Sanctuaries In India

Image courtesy: Mike Prince via Flickr

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 here including the Drongo Cuckoo, Indian Hawk Cuckoo, Large Hawk Cuckoo and the common Indian cuckoo here.

Best Time To Visit: October to March

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, with over 230 species of birds calling it home. During winters, especially, the Gangetic plaina that are part of the National Park turn into breeding grounds 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 look out for them during your trip here.

Best Time To Visit: November to March

Nearest Airport: Jaipur

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

Kumarakom-i Soar High At These 10 Bird Sanctuaries In India

Image courtesy: Ashwin Kumar via Flickr

Located 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, as it attracts a variety of migratory birds from the Himalayas and Siberia. While here, do keep your eyes peeled for Kingfishers, White Ibis, Brahminy Kites, flycatchers, spot-billed ducks, Ospreys, and Marsh Harriers.

Best Time To Visit: June to August

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, like Grey Wagtails, Blue-Winged Teals, sandpipers and Grey pelicans. Vedanthangal should be on your must-visit list, since it is small in area and packed with birds.

Best Time To Visit: October to January

Nearest Airport: Chennai

Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary

The second largest lagoon in the world, the brackish waters of Odisha’s famous Chilka lake are a hotbed for migratory birds. So much so that it’s 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 the winged visitors from as far as the Caspian Sea, Russia, and 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  

Nearest Airport: Bhubaneswar

Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary

Nalsarovar-i Soar High At These 10 Bird Sanctuaries In India

Image courtesy: Shaunak Modi via Flickr

The Nalsarovar Lake and its surrounding marshes are a bird paradise that see 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

Nearest Airport: Ahmedabad

Mayani Bird Sanctuary

Mayani-i Soar High At These 10 Bird Sanctuaries In India

Image courtesy: Mayani Bird Sanctuary

Maharashtra’s Satara district is where you’ll find the Mayani Bird Sanctuary. It is a wetland sanctuary, with the center being an old dam that attracts birds from near and afar alike. We recommend 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

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 the Bar-Headed Goose, 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

Nearest Airport: Tuticorin

Kokkare Bellur

Kokkarebellur-i Soar High At These 10 Bird Sanctuaries In India

Image courtesy: Koshy Koshy via Flickr

The village of Kokkare Bellur, not very far from Bangalore, is known for its love and their conservation efforts for 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 rare sight of these birds, but also showcases how unbreakable the bond between the villagers and the birds {considered as harbingers of good luck and prosperity} is.

Best Time To Visit: November to June

Nearest Airport: Bangalore

Featured image courtesy: Poorna Kedar

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