Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
Nepal boasts over 800 species of birds around 8% of the world's recorded population. This is not surprising in a country which starts near sea level in the Terai Region and ascends through the low hills and the foothills to the mighty Himalayas and the highest place on earth, all within a distance of approximately 200km.
Bird Watching in the Kathmandu Valley
Within the Kathmandu Valley alone, over 500 species of birds have been recorded. The surrounding hills have primary and secondary forests of rhododendron, oak and pine forests. In addition, the wetlands and open fields inside the Valley make up a diverse habitat for many species of birds.
The most popular bird watching spot is Phulchoki Hill, the highest peak on the valley rim situated 20 km southeast of Kathmandu, more than 265 species have been recorded to date. The birds to be seen here include babblers, warblers, tits, thrushes, minivets, woodpeckers, eagles and many migrant birds. Godavari at the foot of Phulchoki hill where the Botanical Garden is situated has recorded over 100 species of birds including the lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Tibetan Siskin and the Spotted Forktail.
The Shivapuri Watershed and Wildlife Reserve, situated 11km to the north of Kathmandu is another exciting location. Other great places are Nagarjun Forest on Jamacho Hill it is situated 5km from Kathmandu on the way to Kakani from Balaju. It delights bird enthusiasts with a wide variety of birds: Blue Magpies, Kalij Pheasants, Bonelli's Eagles, Great Himalayan Barbets and other exotic birds.
The wetlands in the 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 great places for watching waders and waterfowls. Harboring 40 species of birds mostly dependent on wetlands. Taudaha, lake on the way to Dakshinkali, attracts flocks of migrant birds especially from October to December.
Good roads lead to all these places and guides are also available. Accommodation is easy to find in the valley with a wide range of hotels to suit all pockets.
Popular Bird Watching Sites Outside the Kathmandu Valley
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
The Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is renowned for being one of the best locations for birding in Nepal. Situated within Nepal's sub-tropical Terai belt Koshi is the smallest (175 sq km) and the easternmost reserve in Nepal. It is situated just to the northeast of the convergence of the Sapt Koshi and Trijuga Khola rivers. Its location on the Sapt Koshi floodplain means that the environment of this reserve varies dramatically according to the seasons. During the Monsoon (June to September) the flow becomes torrential and covers most of the floodplain, whilst during the dry seasons many flat sandy islands are exposed. The habitat is a combination of scrub grassland and deciduous riverine forest. Over 280 species of birds have been recorded to date, including 20 species of duck, ibises, storks, swamp partridges Francolinus gularis; herons, egrets, Bengal floricans Eupodotis bengalensis and many other exotic and migratory waterfowl that are not found elsewhere in Nepal. To avoid the twelve-hour bus ride, it is advisable to take an internal air flight to Biratnagar from Kathmandu.
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park Is approximately five hours by road from Kathmandu or a 30 minute flight, it situated in the Terai region. Chitwan is recognised as being one of Asia’s best National Parks. It is renowned for its array of birds with over 255 species recorded including many species of parakeets. Other birds include 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 on the outskirts of the Park, is an ideal way to combine bird watching with other pursuits.
One of the best ways of viewing birds in Nepal is a leisurely trek through the foothills of the country. There are three popular trekking areas in Nepal: The Langtang Region, six hours by road north of Kathmandu, The Solu Khumbu (Everest) region eight hours by road (21-day trek) or a 45-minute flight (shorter 14 day trek) east of Kathmandu and the Annapurna region, six hours by road or a 30 minute flight west of Kathmandu. Of the three trekking regions, Langtang is different and offers a lot but the Annapurna Region offers the widest variety of species. The region is also easily accessible..
To set the scene a little. The Annapurna region is a Conservation Area (A.C.A.P); covering around 2600sq km in the north-central region of Nepal. The Kali Gandaki River (the world’s deepest gorge) runs north to south through the region some 6,000m below the peaks of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massifs. Seven of these peaks are over 7,000m, the highest (Annapurna I) at 8,091m. A few facts and figures above, but as you can imagine the Annapurna region supports a remarkable but delicate biodiversity with over 440 recorded species of birds (so far); including the only endemic species of Nepal, the Spiny Babbler Turdoides nepalensis. Bird habitats range from the sub-tropical lowlands towards Pokhara in the south to dry sub-alpine conditions above the tree-line towards the north. The Kali Gandaki valley is also a major migration pathway in the autumn, when 40 species, including Demoiselle Cranes Anthropoides virgo; can be seen around Jomosom and Tukche. Happily, this coincides with one of the two trekking seasons (spring and autumn).
Migrating west about this time further south around Kaare and Dhampus are about 20 identified species of eagle and other birds of prey. The most commonly observed are: Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus (Bearded Vulture); known as the Giddha in Nepal, it frequently occurs at 4,100m. Golden Eagle Aquila cryaetos, known as Baaj in Nepal.
There are six Himalayan pheasants to be found: Himalayan Monal Lophophorus impejanus, Satyr Tragopan Tragopan satyra, (Crimson Horned Pheasant) Blood Pheasant Ithaginis cruentus, Koklass Pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha, Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii, Kalij Pheasant Lophura leucomelana, most commonly occurring of Nepali pheasants, though easily hunted.
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 886
(As at January 2019)
National Bird: Himalayan Monal Ophophorus impejanus
Number of endemics: 2
Spiny Babbler Turdoides nipalensis & Immaculate Wren-babbler Pnoepyga immaculata
Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
* Field Guides & Bird Song
For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering Asia as a whole - please see the Asia page of Fatbirder - for guides etc. covering the Indian sub-continent please see the India page
A Photographic Field Guide to Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh
By Bikram Grewal & Sumit Sen | Princeton University Press | 2017 | Paperback | 792 pages, 4000+ colour photos, 1300+ colour distribution maps |
ISBN: 9780691176499Buy this book from NHBS.com
A Pocket Photo Guide to the Birds of Nepal
By Prajwal Pradhan | Falcon Publication | 2017 | Paperback | 268 pages, colour photos, 1 colour map |
ISBN: 9789937018722Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of Nepal
By Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp & Hem Sagar Baral | Christopher Helm | 2016 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 142 plates with colour illustrations; colour photos, colour distribution maps, 1 colour map |
ISBN: 9781472905710Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of the Indian Subcontinent
By Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp & Tim Inskipp | Christopher Helm | 2012 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 528 pages, 226 colour plates, colour distribution maps, b/w illustrations |
ISBN: 9781408127636Buy this book from NHBS.com
Important Bird Areas in Nepal
(Key Sites for Conservation) | By Hem Sagar Baral & Carol Inskipp | Bird Conservation Nepal | 2005 | Paperback | 242 pages, colour photos, distribution maps |
ISBN: 9789993379225Buy this book from NHBS.com
Bird Conservation Nepal
Established in 1982, Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) is the leading organisation in Nepal, focusing on the conservation of birds, their habitats and sites. It seeks to promote interest in birds amongst the general public, encourage research on birds and identify major threats to birds' continued survival. As a result, we are the foremost scientific authority providing accurate information on birds and their habitats throughout Nepal. We provide scientific data and expertise on birds for the Government of Nepal through the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) and work closely in birds and biodiversity conservation throughout the country. Kathmandu,Nepal - Phone : 977-1-4417805 / 4420213 - Fax : 977-1-4413884 - Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Nepal is endowed with rich and varied biodiversity.Altitudinal variances in short distance give Nepal's biogeography variety that range from lush moist forests and sparse alpine deserts to luxurious grasslands in lowland Terai. The mountainous country also shelters some of the world's most rare animals…
The protected area covers an area of 550 km2 (210 sq mi) with most parts falling on the Churia range. The park is surrounded by a buffer zone of 344 km2 (133 sq mi) in the districts of Banke, Salyan and Dang. The protected area holds tiger and four-horned antelope. In 2014, a ruddy mongoose was recorded for the first time in the protected area.
Covering an area of 968 km2 (374 sq mi) it is the largest and most undisturbed national park in Nepal's Terai, adjoining the eastern bank of the Karnali River and bisected by the Babai River in the Bardiya District. Current checklists include 407 bird species, among them the Bengal florican, white-rumped vulture, peafowl, and bar-headed geese, which are symbolic of the park. Lesser florican and sarus crane are present; grey-crowned prinia, jungle prinia, pale-footed bush warbler, aberrant bush warbler, striated grassbird, golden-headed cisticola and chestnut-capped babbler occur in the park's grasslands
A total of 68 species of mammals, 544 species of birds, 56 species of herpetofauna and 126 species of fish have been recorded in the park. The park is especially renowned for its protection of One Horned Rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger and Gharial Crocodile.
Khaptad National Park is a protected area in the Far-Western Region, Nepal that was established in 1984. Stretching over the four districts of Bajhang, Bajura, Achham and Doti it covers an area of 225 km2 (87 sq mi) and ranges in elevation from 1,400 m (4,600 ft) to 3,300 m (10,800 ft). Current checklists include 23 mammals, 287 birds, and 23 amphibians and reptiles. Bird species symbolic of the park include Impeyan pheasant, peregrine falcon, and white-rumped vulture.
It exceeds an altitudinal range of 6,450 m (21,160 ft) and covers an area of 1,710 km2 (660 sq mi) in the Nuwakot, Rasuwa and Sindhulpalchok Districts of the central Himalayan region. In the north and east it is linked with Qomolangma National Nature Preserve in Tibet.
NP Makalu Barun
It is the world's only protected area with an elevation gain of more than 8,000 m (26,000 ft) enclosing tropical forest as well as snow-capped peaks. It covers an area of 1,500 km2 (580 sq mi) in the Solukhumbu and Sankhuwasabha Districts, and is surrounded by a bufferzone to the south and southeast with an area of 830 km2 (320 sq mi). Ornithologists have recorded 440 bird species, ranging from eagles and other raptors to white-necked storks and brilliantly colored sunbirds. The 16 rare or protected bird species include the rose-ringed parakeet, Blyth's kingfisher, deep-blue kingfisher, blue-naped pitta, pale blue flycatcher, sultan tit, silver-eared mesia, spiny babbler and the white-naped yuhina.
It covers an area of 627.39 km2 (242.24 sq mi) in the Parsa, Makwanpur and Bara districts and ranges in altitude from 435 m (1,427 ft) to 950 m (3,120 ft) in the Siwalik Hills. It was established as a wildlife reserve. A camera-trapping survey conducted in February 2017 for three months revealed the presence of 19 Bengal tigers. This indicates the rise in tiger population by three times in three years.
Covering an area of 106 km2 (41 sq mi) in the Mugu and Jumla districts, it is the country's smallest national park. Its main feature is Rara Lake at an altitude of 2,990 m (9,810 ft). There are 241 recorded species of birds, including 49 wetland species. Birds seen often include Himalayan Snowcock, chukar partridge, Himalayan monal, kalij pheasant and blood pheasant.
Sagarmāthā National Park is a national park in the Himalayas of eastern Nepal that is dominated by Mount Everest. It encompasses an area of 1,148 km2 (443 sq mi) in the Solukhumbu District and ranges in elevation from 2,845 to 8,848 m (9,334 to 29,029 ft) at the summit of Mount Everest. In the north, it shares the international border with the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve of Tibet. In the east it is adjacent to Makalu Barun National Park, and in the south it extends to Dudh Kosi river. The forests provide habitat to at least 118 species of birds, including Himalayan monal, blood pheasant, red-billed chough, and yellow-billed chough. Sagarmāthā National Park is also home to a number of rare mammal species, including musk deer, snow leopard & Himalayan black bear.
NP Shey Phoksundo
Shey Phoksundo National Park is the largest and only trans-Himalayan national park in Nepal. It covers an area of 3,555 km2 (1,373 sq mi) in the districts of Dolpa and Mugu in the Mid-Western Region, Nepal. The park provides habitat for over 200 species of birds, such as Tibetan partridge, wood snipe, white-throated tit, wood accentor and crimson-eared rosefinch.
NP Shivapuri Nagarjun
It is located in the country's mid-hills on the northern fringe of the Kathmandu Valley and named after Shivapuri Peak of 2,732 m (8,963 ft) altitude. It covers an area of 159 km2 (61 sq mi) in the districts of Kathmandu, Nuwakot and Sindhupalchowk. Ornithologists recorded 318 species of birds including Eurasian eagle-owl, slender-billed scimitar-babbler, white-gorgeted flycatcher, barred cuckoo-dove and golden-throated barbet.
Shuklaphanta National Park is a protected area in the Terai of the Far-Western Region, Nepal, covering 305 km2 (118 sq mi) of open grassland, forests, riverbeds and tropical wetlands at an altitude of 174 to 1,386 m (571 to 4,547 ft). A total of 423 bird species has been recorded. The park supports the highest population of Bengal floricans in Nepal. It is the western limit of swamp francolin, Jerdon's bushchat, rufous-rumped grassbird, chestnut-capped babbler and Jerdon's babbler; the north-western limit of yellow-eyed babbler; the eastern limit of Finn's weaver and the most important regular wintering site of Hodgson's bushchat. Forest birds include spot-bellied eagle owl, dusky eagle owl, rufous-bellied eagle and Oriental pied hornbill. The forests are also important for great slaty woodpecker and white-naped woodpecker. The white-rumped vulture, slender-billed vulture, lesser adjutant, grey-headed fish eagle, darter and rufous-rumped grassbird are breeding residents. Sarus crane, painted stork and bristled grassbird are summer visitors. Greater racquet-tailed drongo, white-capped water redstart, rusty-tailed flycatcher and rufous-gorgeted flycatcher are uncommon winter visitors.
Nepal currently has 10 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 60,561 hectares.
WR WII Koshi Tappu
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is an example of one of the finest birding sites in Asia. The reserve has a total area of 175sq. km. and is roughly rectangular in shape. The principal habitats in the reserve include: wetlands, grasslands and small patches of riverine forest.Notable among the 485 bird species are watercock, Indian nightjar, dusky eagleowl, black-headed cuckooshrike, white-tailed stonechat, striated grassbird, large adjutant stork, Pallas’s fish eagle, common golden-eye, and gull-billed tern.Swamp francolin and rufous-vented grass babbler occur as well In spring 2011, 17 Bengal floricans were recorded from nine different sites along a 39 km (24 mi) north-south stretch of the Koshi River.
Guides & Tour Operators
The former kingdom of Nepal, now officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a land-locked country in Asia and one of the most mountainous on the planet. It is located in the central Himalayas, and of the world’s ten highest mountains eight are in Nepal. This land was cut off from the outside world for many decades after the second world war. But now it has opened up its boundaries to travelers, and it offers birders the opportunity to experience the immensity of birding the world’s highest mountain range without the high costs associated with visiting Bhutan.
Early Bird Birders
We are a dedicated Birding company based in Nepal that provides comprehensive ideas for a birding holiday here. With over 40 years of experience between the three us and under our new banner the website is designed to be both informative and simple to navigate. Birding is a journey so you don’t have to be an experienced Birder to enjoy a birding tour with us.
Nepal is a beautiful and diverse land with an amazing variety of wildlife and landscapes. Its cultural and religious mix and intriguing history have conquered the hearts and minds of visitors throughout time.
Travel & Tour Operators in Nepal
Lots of companies offering Nepal treks.
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.
2010 [03 March] - Peter & Rosemary Royle
My husband, Peter and I had visited Nepal in January 1982 - we spent time at Chitwan, Pokhara and did a 7 day Helambu Trek. We loved it and had always wanted to return and do the Langtang Trek which is reckoned to be one of the best for birdwatching and wildlife in general…
2010 [03 March] - Suchit Basnet
…We also came across a small flock of Black-faced warblers, Black-throated Tits, and Fire-breasted Flowerpecker amongst others. After a picnic lunch, we walked further down for about 2 and half hours before driving back to the hotel…
2010 [04 April] - Oscar Campbell
…It is also worth trying the nearby Damside Park for some forest edge birding. Species logged here but not further up into the hills, apart from the predictable egrets and the odd wader, included Khalij Pheasant (easy along the lake shore early am), Fulvous-breasted and Grey-headed Woodpeckers (woodpeckers were actually amazingly scarce, or at least hard to pin down on the trek), Blue-throated Barbet, Dusky Warbler and Taiga Flycatcher…
2012 [01 January] - Mark D. Read & Terri-Lynn Brennan
Our budget trip to Pokhara was planned as a break from Dhangadhi, in the Far-West Terai region of Nepal, where we have been working for the last 6 months…
2013 [03 March] - Jim Rose
…The locals had more than one way to cross the river. I imagine the river would be difficult to cross in boats during the monsoon season. A long way to the local shops!…
2013 [04 April] - Ann Gifford
..Anyway, we thought it a good omen when we stopped fairly early on to observe a Red-headed Vulture – massive with very striking features and after we had gained more height we stopped in a village and decided to climb up the hillside…
2013 [04 April] - Pete Aley - Langtang & Chitwan
…We arrived at Hotel Trekker’s Inn in Syabru Besi and watched a Blue Whistling Thrush (subsequently commonly seen) and some Long-tailed Shrikes from the balcony, before the festival ended and it was safe to venture out along the river! Here we saw the first of many beautiful White-capped and Plumbeous Water Redstarts of the trip, had prolonged views of a Wallcreeper on the rock face and glimpsed a Crested Kingfisher. Other sightings included: Grey Treepie, Black-throated Tit, Himalayan Bulbuls, Striated Prinias, and Grey-hooded Warblers….
2014 [03 March] - Simon Harrap
…Highlights included seven species of vulture, including Slender-billed and India (both Critically Endangered), Indian Spotted Eagle, Swamp Francolin, Ibisbill, Indian Courser, Indian Eagle Owl, White-tailed Stonechat, Grey-crowned Prinia, Rufous-rumped Grassbird, Slender-billed Babbler and good views of Nepal’s only endemic, Spiny Babbler. We also saw lots of other sought-after species, often because they are in general decline but are holding their own in Nepal (or the Indian Subcontinent generally): Lesser Adjutant, Indian Black Ibis, Bar-headed Goose, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, White-eyed Buzzard, a flock of 20 Grey-headed Lapwings, Blue- bearded Bee-eater, up to 20 Great Pied Hornbills, Bay Woodpecker, Himalayan Flameback, Scaly Thrush, Himalayan Red- flanked Bluetail, Siberian Rubythroat, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush, Chestnut-headed and Grey-bellied Tesias, Smoky Leaf Warbler, Spot-winged Starling and a flock of around ten Black-headed Jays….
2015 [03 March] - Carol Inskipp - Chitwan National Park & Buffer Zone
Annotated list only
2015 [12 December] - Aseem Kothiala
Birding in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Dudhwa National Park and Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve...
2016 [02 February] - Suchit Basnet - Lowland Nepal
The tour started with an overnight flight from the UK to Nepal via Doha...
2016 [11 November] - Hathan Choudhary
This most interesting wildlife holiday included ten days trekking in the Annapurna Conservation Area and exploring the subtropical forest, vast grasslands, rivers and oxbow lakes of Chitwan National Park and Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve. The three-week holiday gave experiences of wildlife adventure in the mid hills and lowlands of Nepal.
2017 [01 January] - Suchit Basnet
...This morning we flew to Biratnagar. When we arrived we were met by our driver and a jeep from Koshi Camp. We reached Koshi Camp at around 12.30 pm. We went straight to lunch and after lunch we went for a walk around the Koshi camp and found Black and Cinnamon Bitterns in the camp ponds, and from the hide had views of two different Jungle Cats. We met at 7pm to do the list and dinner followed.
2017 [05 May] - Thad Roller
Despite the fact that many thousands of trekkers visit each year, and despite the relative abundance of ebird reports from the area, it seems that no one has written a report of the avifauna encountered on their trek.
2017 [11 November] - David Roche
My first chance for some birding saw me head up to the corner of the Nagarjun forest reserve (about 30 minutes walk from the hostel) which had proved to be a productive area on my first visit, back in December 2014. A female Hodgson’s Redstart was something of a surprise, feeding in the river close to the main bus park, along with two Grey Wagtail a single Cattle Egret and numerous Black Kites. Arriving at the edge of the forest...
2017 [11 November] - Suchit Basnet
We had jeeps waiting for us and decided to go via Gurju lake and reach camp for lunch. It was a very productive visit to Gurju as we saw Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Cotton Pigmy Goose, Ferruginous and Tufted Ducks and many other species of waterfowl which we would not see anywhere else on the trip.
2018 [05 May] - Wendy Newnham
...As we climbed higher the birds changed so that by late morning we had seen over 50 species, nothing new that I had not seen before, but an excellent selection of Asian birds which I really enjoyed seeing & identifying again after several years away from Asia...
2018 [08 August] - Pete & Caroline Stevens
...A journey into Pokhara was required the next day, to check on my arm and to book our bus to Chitwan. As we got ready to leave blue-throated barbet was calling loudly in the garden and eventually showed itself. After the necessary jobs we stopped off at restaurant over-looking the lake for brunch. Indian pond heron frequented the lake edge and among the black kites was one rather different -a black-eared kite, now recognised as a separate species. Sweeping about near to us was a lesser kestrel...
Places to Stay
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Camp
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Camp, set up in 1993, was the first luxury camp in this wildlife Reserve. It was set up primarily for bird watchers. The Camp is ideal for all nature lovers seeking peace within a paradise of nature.
I've been to Nepal lots of times but only in recent years as a birder, so I re-visited places to see whay kind of birdlife I had missed. It's hard to choose between Annapurna and Langtang for birding.
This area was good for Olive-backed Pipit, Blue-throated Barbet and Fire-breasted Flowerpecker. After the flight to Biritnagar we travelled by road along flat agricultural land to the Kosi Tappu Game Reserve near the Kosi Barrage, a major irrigation project…