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Bird Watching in Nepal

Nepal is a paradise for bird lovers with over 850 species of birds. Among these almost 500 hundred are found in or around the Kathmandu Valley. The most popular bird watching spots in Kathmandu are Nagarjun, the Bagmati river, Phulchoki and Godavari. All you need is to take your binoculars and look up into the trees. Nepal is blessed with a vast array of exceptionally rich bird life, a diverse topography, and climate which has resulted in a variety of habitats within the country. Nepal is home to over 8% of the world’s total bird population. From the lowland jungle of the Terai and Kosi Tappu barrage through dense rhododendron and oak forests of the middle hills to the windswept plateaus of the high Himalayas there is always something in store for the avid birdwatcher.

Birds of the Kathmandu Valley:

Within the Kathmandu valley alone over 500 species of birds have been recorded. The surrounding hills offer a varied ecology ranging from primary and secondary forests to rhododendron, oak and pine forests in Kathmandu. The wetlands and open fields inside the valley make up a diverse habitat for many other species of birds.

The highest peak on the valley rim, Phulchoki hill, is the most popular bird watching spot. It is situated 20 km southeast of Kathmandu, with some 265 species recorded to date. Included babblers, warblers, tits, thrushes, minivets, woodpeckers, eagles and many migrant birds can be seen here. The Royal Botanical Garden at Godavari has spotted over 100 species of birds including the lesser racket-tailed drongo, Tibetan siskin and the spotted forktail at the foot of Phulchoki hill.

The Shivapuri Watershed and Wildlife Reserve:

The Shivapuri Wildelife Reserve, situated 11km to the North of Kathmandu, is another very good location for bird watching. The Nagarjun Royal Forest on Jamacho hill is situated 5 km from Kathmandu on the way to Kakani from Balaju. This place is a renowned sight for bird enthusiasts - blue magpies, kalij pheasants, Bonelli’s eagles, great Himalayan barbets are just some of the many species we found here.

The Valley Wetlands:

The wetlands in the Kathmandu valley, the banks of the Manohara River on the way to Bhaktapur, and the Bagmati River, which flows into the Valley from Shivapuri hill and out through Chobhar Gorge, are good places for watching waders and waterfowls. These 40 species of birds are mostly dependent on the wetlands of Taudaha, a lake on the way to Dakshinkali, and attract flocks of migrant birds.

Popular Bird Watching Sites outside the Kathmandu Valley:

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve:

As well as other kinds of fauna, the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is renowned for being one of the best locations for bird watching. Still within Nepal’s subtropical Terai belt, this is the smallest (175 sq km) and easternmost reserve in Nepal, just to the North East of the convergence of the Sapt Koshi and Trijuga Khola rivers. During the Monsoon (May to September) the flow becomes torrential and covers most of the floodplain, while during the dry seasons, many flat, sandy islands are exposed. The Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is a combination of scrub grassland and deciduous riverine forest, with over 280 species of birds recorded so far, including 20 species of duck, ibises, storks, swamp partridges (Francolinus gularis), herons, egrets, Bengal floricans (Eupodotis Bengalensis), and many other exotic and migratory waterfowl not found elsewhere in Nepal.

Chitwan National Park:

Approximately five hours by road from Kathmandu (or a 35 minute flight) situated in the Terai region, the Chitwan National park is renowned for its array of birds, with over 255 species recorded. Here are many species of parakeets and other birds including the Blue-Throat (thrush), Long-tailed Nightjar, Indian Peafowl, Great Barbet, red-billed blue magpie and Tickell’s red-breasted blue flycatcher. A two night/three day package, staying at a lodge within the park, is an ideal way to combine bird watching with other pursuits.

Bardia National park:

Bardia is also a popular bird watching spot. Situated in the far West of Nepal it is an area of extensive jungle which is covered by the Sal forest and grasslands. On the boat ride, the slow moving expanse of the Karnali river provides plenty of opportunities to view a vast variety of birds including Ruddy Shelduck, darters, brahmini kites, brown headed gulls, cormorants, oriental pied hornbills, night heron & purple heron, cinnaon bitterns, orioles, and majestic peacocks.

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Client Reviews

Tom Beavers, Seattle, WA (USA)

Karna, thank you so much for another wonderful trek. This is my 3rd trek with you - the first being the Annapurna Circuit and then a tour of the Everest region, starting at Jiri and then trekking up to Gokyo, going over Cho La, up to Kala Pattar and then up the Chukhung valley. I continue to learn so much about Nepal from you, Continue

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