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Birding in Northeast India

The International Council for Bird Preservation, UK identified the Assam plains and the Eastern Himalaya as an Endemic Bird Area (EBA). With a variety of habitat options like wetlands, grassland, woodland, sub tropical and rain forests, coniferous, and alpine scrubs spread over an accessible altitude of 100m to over 4500m, a number of National parks and Wild Life Sanctuaries the north east of India provides a fantastic opportunity for an ultimate birding experience.

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Birding in Northeast India is not only an amazing experience but it is a bird watchers dream come true. This region has a distinctly different climate with warmer mean temperatures and fewer days with frost and has much higher rainfall. This has resulted in the occurrence of a rich array of restricted range bird species. More than two critically endangered species, three endangered species and 14 vulnerable species of birds are in this EBA.  

Mishmi Hills - Namdapha National Park - Dibru Saikhowa National Park - Hoolongpar Gibbon Sactuary - Kaziranga National Park - Mandala - Eaglenest Sanctuary


Mishmi Hills : The Mishmi hills in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh is one of the best places for birding in India. There are about 680 species of birds here including many endangered and exotic bird species. The endemic Rusty-throated Wren-Babbler or Mishmi Wren-Babbler was rediscovered here in 2004, known previously from a mist net specimen collected in 1947 by Salim Ali and S.D. Ripley. Some of them are Sclater's Monal, Blyth's and Temmink's Tragopan, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Rufous-necked Hornbill, pale-capped Pigeon, Ward's Trogon, dark-sided Thrush, Green and Purple Cochoa, Rusty-bellied and Gould's Shortwing, Beautiful Nuthatch, Rusty-throated and Wedge-billed Wren Babbler, Fire-tailed Myzornis, at least four Parrotbill species, Black-headed Greenfinch, Scarlet Finch and Grey-headed Bullfinch.

Namdapha is a biodiversity hotspot in the Eastern Himalayas and great place for birding with more than 650 species of birds

Dibru Saikhowa National Park :​ Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in Assam, northeast India is located in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts. It was designated a Biosphere Reserve in July 1997 and Important Bird Area in 2004. Covering an area of 765 sq kms (295 sq mi) the park is bounded by the Brahmaputra and Lohit Rivers in the north and Dibru river in the south. It mainly consists of semi-evergreen forests, moist mixed deciduous forests and grasslands. It is the largest salix swamp forest in north-eastern India, with a tropical monsoon climate with a hot and wet summer and cool and usually dry winter. Dibru Saikhowa National Park is famous for many endangered species of animals and birds. It is a great place for birding, some of the bird species to be seen here are Greater Adjutant Stork, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Greater Crested Grebe, Large Cormorant, Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Osprey, White Winged Wood Duck, Baer's Pochard, Greater Spotted Eagle, Pale Capped Pigeon, Great Pied Hornbill, Marsh Babbler, Jerdon's Babbler, Black Breasted Parrot bill, etc.​

Hoollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary : ​The Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary is famous for being the habitat of India's only gibbons – the Hoolock gibbons, and Northeastern India's only nocturnal primate – the Bengal slow loris. It is a small sanctuary of 20.98 sq. kms in Jorhat district with semi-evergreen forests and evergreen patches amidst tea gardens and human settlements. The sanctuary is named after the tall Hollong trees (Dipterocarpus macrocarpus) that dominates the upper canopy of the forest and the Hoolock Gibbons that reside there. Gibbon Sanctuary is also home to more than 200 species of birds. The White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata has been sighted in this park and the site has been selected as an IBA because of occurrence of this highly endangered species. Other birds seen here include Greater and Lesser Yellownape, Oriental Pied Hornbill,  Speckled Piculet, 3 types of Flamebacks, 5 types of Barbets, 3 types of Warblers, Black Baza, ​Indian Pied Horn Bill, Osprey, Hill Myna, Red Junglefowl, Kalij pheasant etc. The surrounding tea gardens also provide great opportunities for birding.

Kaziranga National Park : Kaziranga National Park in Assam is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site. Kaziranga's 470 sq kms of lush green flood plains is home to some of the most fascinating wildlife in Asia. It is famous for being the biggest habitat of One Horned Rhinoceros. Kaziranga is home to 25 Globally Threatened and 21 Near Threatened species of birds. So far 480 bird species have been identified and recorded in the Park. The Baza, Bengal Florican, Hornbills, Osprey etc. are the endangered species. There is also presence of Pelicans and various waterfowls both resident and migratory.​​​ Key species include Swamp Francolin, Pale-capped Pigeon, Bengal Florican, Great and Wreathed Hornbill, Jerdon's Baza, Slender-billed Vulture, Pallas’s Fishing Eagle , Greater Spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Pied Harrier, Pied Falconet, Oriental Hobby, Black-necked Stork, Greater Adjutant, Hodgson’s Bushchat, White-vented Myna, Rufous-vented Prinia, Marsh Babbler, Jerdon’s Babbler, Black-breasted Parrotbill and Finn’s Weaver. The Eastern range of Kaziranga or Agoratoli range is great for birding where there is a breeding colony of Spot-billed Pelicans.

Mandala, in the Mandala-Phudung forest region is located in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India. It is a part of the Important Bird Area (IBA).The Mandala-Phudung region is located in the higher partsof the eastern Himalayas, above 3000 mtrs. 

The Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary located in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh is a bio-diversity hotspot. Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas within an area of 217 sq kms, Eaglenest consisits of diverse habitat of semi-evergreen forest and tropical wet evergreen forest. It is considered one of the best places for birding in the world with more than 650 species of birds. Eaglenest is also home to about 200 species of butterflies, wild cats like clouded leopard, marbled cat, Asian golden cat, leopard cat etc. and many other endangered plants and animals. The Arunachal macaque, a new taxon of primate was discovered here in 1997. Birds found here include Bugun Liocichla, Ward's Trogon, Nuthatch, Barwing, Wren Babblers, Shortwings, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Sikkim Wedge-billed Babbler, Tragopans, many species of Laughing Thrush, Great/ Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbill etc. Eaglenest is the site where Bugun liocichla was first discovered in 1995 and again observed and described in 2006.

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