Indeed, India, which hosts about 1,266 species of birds, ranging from the paradise flycatcher with its absurdly long tail feathers to the brilliantly plumed Himalayan monal pheasant, is a birdwatchers’ paradise. One of the joys of a game drive is stopping in a quiet part of the forest and listening to the song of nature: the flirtatious call of the whistling thrush, a chorus of crickets; the creaking of a bamboo grove; whispering of leaves caressed by the wind; the buzzing of a cloud of bees escorting their queen to her new hive… A flying lizard floating by.  

One of the finest birding escapades on the planet, the misty Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary or the Keoladeo National Park, shelters over 230 species of birds, with thousands of migratory birds visiting it during winters. Sight the painted stork colony buzzing with activity, feeding their young ones and nesting and breeding, get mesmerised watching the Indian darters fight in a flurry of feathers and water drops or watch the Sarus cranes, the tallest flying birds in the world, behave like army troops, following a synchronised call, a synchronised flight and togetherness.

Lying on the outskirts of Mumbai, the Karnala Bird Sanctuary, snuggled in the lap of the Western Ghats, is one of the best birdwatching spots. For those seeking a more in-depth insight into the fascinating life of birds, the 6-km-long Mortaka Trail is an amazing spot with its fascinating array of birds like peregrine and shikra and butterfly life. 

The Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary is among the best places where visitors can spot the bustard, one of the heaviest birds. Additionally, you can see black and grey francolins, spotted and Indian sangrouses, quails, larks, shrikes, coursers, and plovers. Rare species like Stolicska’s bushchats and white-naped tits can also be found here. During winters, a walk up to the north coast area of Jakhau will reveal large groups of flamingos, herons, egrets, sandpipers, and other birds that are usually found in salt reservoirs and creeks. 

Skirted by the mesmerising Vembanad lake, the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, in Kerala, is the nesting site of many migratory birds, which flock here in large numbers from Siberia and the Himalayas. The best season to visit the sanctuary is between June and August as it is the breeding season of wetland birds like white ibis, herons, egrets, little cormorants, Indian darters and kingfishers. Some other not-to-be-missed avian breeds one can spot are wood beetles, larks, flycatchers, parrots, teals, Siberian cranes, owls, water duck and waterfowls. An intriguing way to visit the sanctuary is on a boat trip that gives a closer look at the birds flocking around the water body. For a more comprehensive experience, tourists can stay in independent cottages on stilts at the backwater resort of Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC).

The scenic and small island of Pathiramanal, floating on the backwaters of Kerala, is among the best spots to watch rare migratory birds. It boasts around 50 species of exotic and 91 types of endemic birds. Some of the common birds one can sight here include common teal, pintail ducks, cormorant, night heron, darter, Indian shag, whistling duck, little cormorant and whiskered tern. 

Ensconced in the state of Karnataka, the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is a paradise for bird-lovers. If fortune favours, one can also sight birds that come from as far as Siberia to make their home here. Some of the birds you can spot are the darter, peafowl, pond heron, wild duck, large cormorant, heron, great stone plover, river tern, streak-throated swallow, among others. 

The largest wintering area for migratory birds in India, the Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary, in Odisha, is a treat for bird-lovers. From pink-kissed flamingos to the majestic white-bellied sea eagles, the diversity here makes for an enchanting experience.

The hauntingly beautiful Mayani Bird Sanctuary, in Maharashtra, is home to  birds like flamingos, northern shoveler, stork and kingfisher. The best way to explore the sanctuary is by hiking through its premises.

The largest wetland bird sanctuary in Gujarat, Nal Sarovar is a stopover for various migratory birds like white storks, Brahminy ducks, pelicans, purple moorhens and the white-tailed lapwing.
The largest river delta in the world, Majuli has a huge diversity of avifauna and one can spot short-toed snake eagles, purple sunbird, brown shrikes, red munias, white-backed vultures, greater adjutant storks, Pallas’s fish eagles, chestnut-bittern large cormorants etc.