Maharashtra is one of the most industrialised states of the Indian union. It is located in the upper western Indian Peninsula. It was founded on 1st May 1960 as a result of the reorganisation of Indian states. In population as well as size, it is the third largest state of the Indian union. With about 90 million people the state covers around 0.3 million sq. km. The east west length is about 800km (72°6' to 80°9'E) and north to south the length is about 700km.
There are 5 Major divisions of Maharashtra
Konkan (Coastal Maharashtra) This is a narrow coastal belt covering about 720km from north to south and about 50km wide. The strip is sandwiched between the Arabian Sea in the west and the Sayhandri or Western Ghats range to the east. The area received 2,000 to 3,000mm of rainfall. Its six districts are Thane, Mumbai (Bombay) city, Mumbai Suburb, Raigad, Ratnagiri, and Sindhudurg.
Desh The rain-shadow belt adjoining the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats is called Desh. It is the western upland Maharashtra with an average height of 500m to 600m, interspaced with river valleys and low hill ranges forming eastern offshoots of the main Ghat range. The plateau gradually slopes east/south-eastward. The Desh includes districts of Dhule, Nandurbar and Jalgaon to the north through Nashik, Ahamadnagar, Pune, Solapur, Satara, Sangli to Kolhapur to the south. Because of rain-shadow effect, the rainfall is lower and averages between 500 to 1,000mm.
Western Ghats or Sahyandri This is actually the western edge of Deccan plateau, ending abruptly with an escarpment down to the Konkan lowland. The average height of the range is around 900m with some peaks and high altitude plateaus reaching 1400m. The Ghat country receives 4,000 to 6,000mm of rainfall.
Marathwada The hot and dry region of central Maharashtra is made up of 8 districts of Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed, Osmanabad, Latur, Nanded, Parbhani and Hingoli. The average rainfall throughout the region is 500mm per anum.
Vidarbha This is the easternmost division of the state comparising eleven districts - Buldana, Akola, Washim, Yeotmal, Amaravati, Vardha, Nagpur, Chandarpur, Bhandara, Gadchiroli and Gondia. This is the division with maximum area under forest. The rainfall increases in this region with average ranging between 1000mm to 1500mm.
The Avifauna of Maharashtra
The state is very rich with more than 500 species recorded from the state so far. If the subspecies are to be considered then the list goes beyond 540. Mr. Prakash Gole has classified these 540 forms as follows:
Resident species 255
Local or International migrants 245
Stragglers or irregular visitors 40
Species known to be probably breeding 168
Species that breed in specific areas only 56
Species about whom very little is known 87
Species about which knowledge is fairly good (e.g. Sparrows, Crows etc.) 25
Most of the Vagrants and Stragglers are marine species that are storm driven to the coast during the monsoon months. Most of the migrants are winter visitors aquatic birds like ducks, geese, gulls, terns, cranes, flamingos, sandpipers etc. A number of harriers, cuckoos, swallows, warblers, chats, pipits and wagtails also arrive here in the cold season. Few species like Rain Quail, Pied-crested Cuckoo and Indian Pitta visit us at the beginning of the rainy season. Most of our bulbuls, babblers, sunbirds, munias, larks, woodpeckers, barbets, hornbills and owls are resident birds. Some birds are rare in the state for they were sighted only a few times (Ashy Minivet, Imperial Eagle, Scaup Duck, Pelican sp. etc.) The birds that were thought to be extinct were Forest Spotted Owlet Athene blewitti Jerdon's Courser Cursorius bitorquatus and Pinkheaded Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea. Jerdonn's Courser was rediscovered in the adjoining Andhra Pradesh in 1986. The Forest Spotted Owlet was re-discovered in the Satpuda forests in 1999.
The commonest bird in the state is the ubiquitous Jungle Crow Corvus macrorhynchos, which is found in remotest forest patches in Gadchiroli district to the heart of the Mumbai city. The other commoner and abundant birds are the House Crow, House Sparrow, Blue Rock Pigeon, Common Myna, Common Kite Red Vented and Red Whiskered Bulbuls. Common Green Pigeon (Treron phoenicoptera) is the State Bird of Maharashtra. The Great Indian Bustard Choriotis nigriceps; once so common on the drier Deccan tableland was reduced to extinction but was later recovered a bit, thanks to the conservation efforts of the state government and some NGO's. Grey jungle fowl Gallus sonneratii a forest bird is fast loosing its ground, but common peafowl Para cristatus is a more fortunate bird for protection it has received in some parts, thanks to the religious sentiments.
The main birding habitats in the state can be broadly classified into forests, scrub & grass country, fresh water bodies, seashore, cultivated country and urban areas. About 22% of the total state area is under forest though true forest cover is hardly half of this area. Tropical Deciduous forest is the dominant vegetation type in the state. It is found all over the state in all divisions. Small pockets in the Western Ghats supports Evergreen and Semi Evergreen type. E.g. Bhimashankar, Matheran, Mahabaleshwar, Chandoli etc. Tropical thorn forest is the dominant type throughout the plateau area. Great Indian Bustard sanctuary is located within this belt.
Narrow mangrove patches bank many creeks in the coastal belt. Maharashatra is the state with maximum number of reservoirs I the country. The twin districts of Bhandara and Gondia alone have about 13000 tanks. The Western Ghats are full of large and medium dams. In Konkan every village has a pond. All these bodies of water are full of migratory birds in the winter months. Nandur-Madhemeshwar (Nashik); Jaikwadi (Aurangabad); Ujani (Pune-Solapur); Mayani (Satara); Nawegaon (Bhandara) are some of the popular birding spots for wetland birds. Cultivated country has its own unique bird fauna which is mostly gramivorous and insectivorous. In spite of being most urbanized state, cities in Maharashtra support high bird diversity. Pune city bird checklist has more than 300 bird species. Mumbai, Nagpur, Nashik, Aurangabad also support equally high bird diversity. Along the coast sandy beaches are full of waders in the winter months. Bordi, Kelwe-mahim (Thane); Kihim (Raigad); Guhagar, Velneshwar (Ratnagiri); Malvan-Tarkarli (Sindhudurga) are some good shore birding spots.
Number of Species
State Bird: Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea
* Field Guides & Bird Song
For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering India as a whole - please see the main India page of Fatbirder
Birds of Mumbai
Sunjoy Monga 175 pages, 250 col illus. India Book House 2003
ISBN: 8175083913Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of Western Maharashtra - A reference guide
by Ananad Prasad, Other India Bookstore 2006
ISBN: 8185569738Buy this book from NHBS.com
Bombay Natural History Society
Hornbill House, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, Mumbai 400023. + 91 22 2843421 firstname.lastname@example.org
Green Imperial Pigeon Treron phoenicoptera
Forums & Mailing Lists
Birds of Bombay
To post to list: email@example.com
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Discussion Group - Bombay City has coastline, marshes, wetlands , forests and hills. Consequently, several species of birds have been recorded. There are several birders staying in different parts of the city. Due to the distances and the traffic jams, find it difficult to assemble at one place and exchange notes. This e-group seeks to provide such a meeting place.
To post to list: MaharashtraPakshiMitra@yahoogroups.com
List contact: MaharashtraPakshiMitrafirstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe to list: MaharashtraPakshiMitraemail@example.com
Discussion Group that is formed by the members of Maharashtra Pakshi Mitra Sanghatana and a forum to discuss everything related to birds in Maharashtra including Identification Queries, Check Lists, News etc.
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2009 [12 December] - Ian Merrill - Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra
Our 2009 North West India trip was largely inspired by the travels of our good friends Rob Hutchinson and James Eaton (www.birdtourasia.com), who had followed a similar route the previous winter. The main constraint of our trip was the two-week window of travel time available, which meant that we could not follow Rob and James’ full circuit; this is where the logistical planning became interesting, in deciding which of the mouth-watering selection of birds and mammals we could afford to omit.
2013 [02 February] - James Eaton & Frank Lambert
…Although we recorded just 299 species the list of megas was impressive; Green Avadavat, Macqueen’s Bustard, Hypocolius, Sociable Plover, Sykes’s Nightjar, White- naped Tit, Crab-Plover, 13,000 Demoiselle Cranes, 35,000 Common Crane, Stoliczka’s Bushchat, Mottled Wood Owl and to finish off, the critically endangered Forest Owlet Add in some impressive mammals including the majestic Asiatic Lion, and this was a wonderful visit to one of India’s most exciting areas…
2014 [01 January] - Frank Lambert - West India
…After lunch we tracked down an obliging pair of Stoliczka’s Bushchats and spend more than 30 minutes appreciating these increasingly rare birds. As we did so, we found another four bustards, although these were almost certainly some of the same birds we had seen earlier. Several vultures then put in an appearance, gradually coming nearer and nearer until their identification was easily confirmed. Two huge Monk Vultures were joined by a couple of Red-headed Vultures and Eurasian Griffons, confirming that this part of India it is still possible to encounter several species of these rare birds…
2014 [01 January] - James Eaton - West India
…An afternoon walk along the river and reedbed was similar to the morning; pleasant general birding and great views of some particularly confiding Moustached Warblers, Baya and Black-breasted Weavers, Red Avadavats, Black-rumped Flamebacks, raucous Jungle Babblers and a Hoopoe posing in a trackside tree….
2015 [01 January] - Frank Lambert - Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra
...West India also supports huge numbers of wintering birds, in particular raptors and waterbirds, of which we saw plenty, and rarer species such as Hypocolius and Macqueen’s Bustard, both of which gave us outstanding views. Although we recorded just 298 species this included many memorable species such as White-bellied Minivet, White-naped Tit, Indian Spotted Creeper, Green Avadavat, Painted Sandgrouse, Indian Courser, Yellow-eyed Pigeon, five species of vulture, Pallid Scops Owl, Mottled Wood Owl, Sykes’s Nightjar and to finish off, the Critically Endangered Forest Owlet...
Nagpur Birds Latest Trips
Lots of reports on outings throughout the year… to various locations around the city…
Places to Stay
Also a list of other destinations where hotels are listed.
In the heart of the central Indian forests is an exclusive wilderness area called TIGER TRAILS, a forest lodge, situated inside the forest of the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve…
Gautala Wildlife Sanctuary
Southern tropical dry deciduous forest is the main forest type in this track which includes draught resistant trees like Anjan, Khair, Dhawada. Tree height remains less than 10 mts. Hills tops have Sparse vegetation. Slopes are covered with Euphorbia spp. River valleys support moist zone species such as Arjun and Chandan valleys have got diversified vegetation. In the past efforts are done for afforestation area under various plantation schemes together with intensive soil and water conservation works. Grass lands at hill tops, plain growth have good growth grasses. Thus the diversified vegetation scattered intermittently support rich faunal diversity. Particularly it is good for sloth bear habitat and excellent for birds resident as well as migratory…
Maharashtra Wildlife Parks
e.g. Tadoba National Park - This is a large park spread over many acres of lush green forested land. Situated 45 kms from Chandrapur, Tadoba is an extremely beautiful jungle of mixed teak forests around a tranquil lake. Late nights are ideal times to see tiger, leopards, gaur, nilgai, sambar and chital. The park has facilities for tourists to stay overnight.
Pench National Park
There are over 285 species of resident and migratory birds including the Malabar Pied Hornbill, Indian Pitta, Osprey, Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, White-eyed Buzzard, etc. In winter thousands of migratory waterfowl including Brahmini Duck, Pochards, Barheaded Geese, Coots, etc visit the tanks and the Pench reservoir within the Park…
Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) (Formerly Borivili National Park)
The green jewel of Mumbai - The National Park is known as a real Bird Watcher's Paradise. Did you know that the park is the nesting ground for 274 kinds of birds - that's almost a quarter of all bird species found in India. From the tiny Tickell's Flowerpecker (small Indian bird); many species of beautiful Sunbirds (old word equivalent of the Humming birds) the Paradise Flycatcher, and the elusive Trogon to the majestic White Bellied Sea Eagle, several kinds of Kingfishers, Woodpeckers and Drongos; the forest is truly a visual feast of feathered friends. From the moment you enter the forest, nature's symphony welcomes you with its many unique sounds. The continuous calling of the large Green Barbet, the wildly screeching Parakeets, the metallic calls of the Racket-trailed Drongo and the musical call of the Blue flycatcher. The extremely melodious song of the Malabar Whistling Thrush or the familiar refrain of the Spotted Babler are just a few of the sounds that will be sweet music to your ears.
It is hardly surprising that the Sewri Bay has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) as per the Birdlife International guidelines. More than perhaps any other wetland site in the entire Konkan, this Bay deserves protection as a Bird Sanctuary of immense international importance…
Birding Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra
Birding the Critically Endangered Forest owlet in Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra...
British Birdwatcher in Pune
From 22nd January to 26th February 1998 a birdwatcher (Ornithoscopus binoculus) showing characteristics of the race britannicus was present in and around Pune, Maharashtra. On the basis of the bare parts on the head, it was adjudged to be a male. During the week it was exclusively to be found in the offices of Mahindra British Telecom in Pune, but on weekends and public holidays it was catholic in its choice of habitat, frequenting lakes, rivers, marshes, dry-deciduous and evergreen forest, scrub and scattered woodland, dry grassland, semi-desert and urban areas. On one occasion it even visited a sandy sea-shore. Friends, I was that birdwatcher.
The city of Nagpur! Situated in the exact center of India, the city is usually overlooked by one and all, wild/bird life travellers never give a thought to it - it is always seen as a junction on the way to some other place. If you are a bird lover this website will change your views about Nagpur… You will find here the complete checklist of birds for the region within 30 mins drive from the city and loads of photographs to prove it…