If you have a keen interest in bird watching and like to spend some unforgettable moments in the amazing world of birds, enjoying their chirp and flight, visit the spectacular bird sanctuaries in Kerala. They are the favourite destinations of bird watchers and nature lovers across the world.
Bird Sanctuaries in Kerala
Kerala, the ornithologists’ paradise, is a land blessed by nature in its abundance with dense forests, green plantations and tranquil backwaters. The avian population in Kerala is diverse and incredible. When you visit its bird sanctuaries, you will feel immense pleasure to meet a variety of migratory birds dancing in front of you in a flock of thousands. You will be surprised to know that some of them are from Himalayas, some from Europe and some from Siberia. Let me explore five most popular bird sanctuaries in Kerala that will give a treat to your eyes.
1. Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary : Enjoy the World of “Cuckoo Paradise”
Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, popularly known as Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, is situated on the northern bank of Periyar river, in Kothamangalm Taluk of Ernakulam district in Kerala. This lush green sanctuary, spread over 25 sq. km, was established in 1983 as per the recommendation of famous ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali. Dr. Salim Ali described this region as the richest bird habitat on peninsular India. It is a home to more than 300 different species of resident and migratory birds and is considered as one of the finest Kerala bird sanctuaries to visit.
The area is thickly covered with tropical evergreen forests, semi evergreen forests and deciduous forests, containing a wide variety of plantations including teak, mahogany and rosewood. This bird sanctuary is situated at a height of 35-523 m above sea level. While trekking through the forests you can come across a variety of rare birds. Some of the rare birds found here are Sunbird, Bee Eater, Shrike, Black-winged Kite, Grey Heron, Fairy Blue bird, and Crimson-throated Barbet. There is a unique region called “Cuckoo Paradise”, where varieties of cuckoos come together to make their nests. There are several common birds including Large Pied Wagtail, Common Snipe, Kite, Indian Hill Myna, Jungle Babbler, Malabar Trogon, Jungle Nightjar, Grey Jungle Fowl, Robin bird, Darter, and many more. Apart from numerous species of birds you can also see 28 species of animals like elephants, bear, porcupine, leopard, python and cobra.
Weather is comfortable throughout the year with temperature varying from 10 degrees to 26 degree Centigrade. The best time to visit is from October to May.
The nearest railway station is Aluva at 48 km, and the nearest airport is Cochin international airport, 71 km away. To reach the site, you have to travel 13 km North-East of Kothamangalam along the Pooyamkutty Road.
2. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary: The Bird Watcher’s “Garden of Eden”
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, otherwise known as the ‘Garden of Eden’ for ornithologists, is situated on the eastern bank of the famous Vembanad Lake, in Kottayam district of Kerala. This beautiful sanctuary dominated with mangrove forests, is filled with natural vegetation, lush green paddy fields and coconut groves, thus providing a natural habitat for native and migratory birds. Spread over a small area of 14 acres, set in the backwaters of Vembanad and Kavanar River, this bird sanctuary maintains a moderate temperature throughout the year, and welcomes the birds and tourists alike.
Major attractions of Kumarakom bird sanctuary are its resident birds including Heron, Egret, Darter, Cuckoo, Cormorant, Waterfowl, Duck, Moorhen and Brahminy Kite. A number of migratory birds, including those from Himalaya and Siberia, make this bird sanctuary their home during winters. These migratory birds include Siberian Crane, Lark, Parrot, Teal bird, Flycatcher, Wood Beetle and many more.
Best time to visit the sanctuary is from June to August, which is the breeding season of resident wetland birds. Between November to February you can watch the migratory birds. Early morning is the best time when you can watch a flock of birds leaving their home and flying over the lake that will give you an indefinable sensation. The best means of bird watching is by cruising in a houseboat or a fishing boat through the tranquil backwaters of Vembanad, and watching the birds without destroying the serene atmosphere. The beauty of these memorable experiences makes Kumarakom bird sanctuary one of the most visited bird sanctuaries in Kerala.
Kottayam is the nearest railway station at 14 km from Kumarakom and can be reached to the sanctuary by taxis, auto-rickshaws or buses. Nearest airport is Cochin international airport at 106 km away.
3. Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary: Where the River Embraces the Sea
Kadalundi Bird sanctuary, one of the must-visit Kerala Bird Sanctuaries, is situated in Malappuram District of Kerala, in a place known as Kadalundi Nagaram, at about 200 m above sea level. It is spread over a group of islands, surrounded by hillocks, where you can enjoy picturesque view of the Kadalundi River flowing into the Arabian Sea. Boat facilities are available to enjoy the scenic beauty of green plantations and the exotic varieties of resident and migratory birds. Besides bird watching, you can enjoy trekking, photography and several adventurous activities.
Kadalundi Bird sanctuary is an abode for hundreds of varieties of resident birds and more than 60 species of migratory birds. Migratory birds including Seagulls, Sandpipers, Sand plovers, Red Shanks, Green Shanks, Terns, Herons and Cormorants arrive here in the month of November and return to their original abodes by the end of April. Other important birds are Woodpecker, Peafowl, Jungle Fowl, Laughing Thrush, Myna, Brahminy Kites and Whimbrels. Besides birds, the sanctuary is famous for varieties of fish, crabs, mussels, turtles and several species of snakes.
The topography consists of thick forests in highlands, slopping down to valleys and small hills, and ending in coastal plains consisting coconut groves and green vegetation. The best season to visit the sanctuary is from December to April, when you can watch the migratory birds staying in the sanctuary.
Nearest railway station is Kozhikode, 19 km away and nearest airport is Karipur International airport at 23 km away.
4. Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary: “The Green Lung of Kochi”
If you want to visit a bird sanctuary in a busy city, here is your chance. Visit Mangalavanam bird sanctuary, an unbelievable green dreamland located in the heart of Kochi Metro, in Ernakulam district of Kerala. It is an ecologically sensitive area spread over a mere 2.7 hectares area behind the Kerala High court building. It is essentially a mangrove area, with a small shallow tidal lake surrounded by thick mangrove vegetation. The lake is connected to Kochi backwaters by a canal. Because of its lush green vegetation and the presence of the exotic varieties of resident and migratory birds, people living around in the polluted city call this green belt as the “Green Lung of Kochi”.
Mangalavanam is one of the smallest bird sanctuaries in Kerala, but it consists of about 200 birds belonging to 32 species. Some of these birds are White Breasted Water Hen, Brahminy Kite, Common Green Shank, Common Red Shank, and Marsh Sandpiper. There are 17 species of beautiful butterflies and six species of mammals. The canal from the lake to Kochi backwaters is a home to seven species of fishes.
With an abundance of mangroves and a variety of trees and plants, the area enjoys a cool temperature and a pleasant weather throughout the year. The best time to visit the sanctuary is during January to March.
Nearest railway station is Ernakulam South at about 4 km. Cochin international airport is at a distance of about 34 km.
5. Pathiramanal Bird Sanctuary : An Island for Birds
Pathiramanal, meaning “Sands of midnight”, is a 10-acre island in the Vembanad Lake, located on the boarder of Kottayam-Alappuzha districts of Kerala. It is a home to hundreds of rare varieties of migratory birds and is famous for its scenic beauty and wonderful surroundings. The island is presently uninhabited and the government has designated it as a Biodiversity Heritage Site. The project has an intention to enhance the biodiversity of the island, including conservation of mangroves and other plantations, providing a lake and cleaning the island to make it one of the sought after bird sanctuaries in Kerala. Presently there are more than 160 species of plants in the island.
There are about 100 species of birds, 30 species of butterflies, 55 species of fish and 20 species of spiders in this island sanctuary. The important birds spotted here include Indian Shag, Night Heron, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Darter, Black Bittern, Cormorant, Gull, Whiskered Tern, Cattle Egret, Large Egret, Median Egret, Little Egret, Common Teals, Whistling duck, Fly catcher, Cotton Pigmy, Bronze winged Jacanas, Stork billed Kingfisher, and many more. Migratory birds from Europe and Siberia can be seen in large number in the backwaters between Pathiramanal and Kumarakom.
This green island maintains a pleasant climate throughout the year and the best time to visit is from June to January. During your backwater cruise through Vembanad Lake, you can take a break in the journey and spend some wonderful moments in this birdwatchers’ paradise.
Pathiramanal is accessible by boat from Alappuzha, Kumarakom and Thannermukkom. The nearest railway station is Cherthala, which is 11 km away from Thannermukkom. The nearest airport is Cochin international airport at 70 km.
Weather is pleasant, temperature is moderate, and the nature is beckoning you to its lap to witness the mind-blowing performance of the colourful avian artists undulating on the ripples of nature. It is time to visit the incredible bird sanctuaries in Kerala; the heavenly havens for birds! What else you are waiting for?