Arunachal Pradesh

Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis ©Angadachappa - Creative Commons
Birding Arunachal Pradesh

India’s easternmost corner Arunachal is also the land of the rising sun for the entire subcontinent. Nature’s blessing in the form of breath-taking hills & mountains and a spectacular variety of life has brought a unique identity to this hilly terrain. Forget about the exotic flora & fauna; the geographical features alone barely has any match… from snow capped mountains to typically dense rain forests, from fast moving hilly streams to fully-grown rivers; Arunachal is full of surprises.

This high altitude Eastern Himalayan realm has lots to offer to the tourism industry as a whole. Apart natural heritages, there are other reasons to visit Arunachal – be it culture, be it religious customs, be it tribal ethnicity, be it fairs & festivals, be it temples (Gumpha), be it war monuments, there is a wealth of cultural diversity and monuments to man’s past. Arunachal harbours 26 different tribes and communities. Whilst these tribes have certain racial similarities, they can be divided into three broad sections based on their socio-religious sentiments.

And when it comes to birding, Arunachal possesses exceptional richness in avian diversity. Almost every nook & corner of this hill state draws nature lovers from across the globe. A few selected protected areas are worthy of special mention e.g. Namdapha National Park, Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary, Sessa Wildlife Sanctuary, D’ering Wildlife Sanctuary, Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary, etc. Interestingly, the western most parts of the state i.e. Tawang & West Kameng Districts rarely get any attention from the birdwatchers accept for a few serious birders; rather they are visited mostly for their scenic beauty and for their ancient majestic Buddhist monasteries.

From the bio-geographic point of view Arunachl has been crisscrossed by Sino-Himalayan Temperate and Sino-Himalayan Subtropical biomes. There are about 25 notified Important Bird Areas in Arunachal Pradesh. West Kameng and Tawang Districts alone boasts hundreds of avian species including many migratory and endangered ones. One can check out the following treks across the region for magnificent birding experiencse; they are Zemithang, Sangti Valley, Baily Trails, Tawang area, etc.

Nature watching is, of course, all about luck; if one is lucky – one could be amazed by the glimpses of beautiful but endangered birds. Most notable are Sclater’s Monal Lophophorus sclateri, Satyr Trogopan Trogopan satyra, Blyth’s Trogopan Trogopan blythii, Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide Indicator xanthonotus, Spotted Wren Babbler Spelaeornis formosus, Broad-billed Flycatcher-Warbler Tickellia hodgsoni, Rufous-breasted Bush Robin Tarsiger hyperithrus, Greater Long-billed Thrush Zothera monticola, Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis, just to mention a few of those which can be found in the areas bordering Bhutan.

  • Pranab J. Patar

    Morigaon, Assam, India |

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 896

    (As at April 2020)

    State Bird: Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis

  • Number of endemics: 1

    The Bugun Liocichla Liocichla bugunorum was not discovered until 1995 and only described in 2006 as the known population (14) was too small to risk 'taking' a specimen for science. It is critically endangered and its tiny range is under threat of development.
  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • A Pocket Guide to the Birds of Arunachal Pradesh

    | By Anwaruddin Choudhury | The Rhino Foundation | 2006 | Paperback | 109 pages, photos, line drawings | ISBN: 9788190086653 Buy this book from
  • Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History

    SACON or the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History was formally inaugurated on 5th June 1990 and registered as a society under the Society Registration Act 1860. SACON, an autonomous organization is a national centre for studies in Ornithology and Natural History. The centre was named befittingly after Dr. S

Abbreviations Key

  • BR Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    The Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve is one of the few nature preserves around the world which are untouched from the modern civilization. None of the parts of the BR is approachable by road and has to be approached on foot only. The huge gorges and the innumerable streams make it impossible to use animal transport. The health care and educational system are rudimentary. Other than the traditional agriculture, there is no any significant source of income generation. In short, it is a very difficult place to live in which is one of the deciding factor of having a very sparse population…
  • NP Namdapha

    InformationSatellite View
    Namdapha National Park is the largest protected area in the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot and is located in Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India. It is also the largest national park in India in terms of area - 1,985 km2 (766 square miles). The national park harbours the northernmost lowland evergreen rainforests in the world at 27°N latitude. It also harbours extensive dipterocarp forests, comprising the northwestern parts of the Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin rain forests ecoregion. The park has about 425 bird species with many more to be recorded from work in the higher areas. There are five species of hornbills recorded from the area. Several species of rare wren-babblers have been recorded in Namdapha. Other bird groups include laughing thrushes, parrotbills, fulvettas, shrike babblers and scimitar babblers. The snowythroated babbler is a rare species of babbler found only in the Patkai and Mishmi Hills and nearby areas in Northern Myanmar, is found in Namdapha. Other rare, restricted range or globally endangered species include the rufous-necked hornbill, green cochoa, purple cochoa, beautiful nuthatch, Ward's trogon, ruddy kingfisher, blue-eared kingfisher, white-tailed fish eagle, Eurasian hobby, pied falconet, white-winged wood duck, Himalayan wood-owl, rufous-throated hill-partridge, and whitecheeked hill partridge. Several leaf warblers and migrants such as amur falcon and several thrushes can be seen here
  • WS Daying Ering Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    Daying Ering Wildlife Sanctuary (13 km from Pasighat) is spread over a cluster of river islands. A cruise through the Siang River is the only way to reach the sanctuary. One can reach there by cruising the Siang River. The unique ecosystem of this sanctuary has made it a natural habitat for different species of birds including migratory birds like cranes, wild ducks, storks, waterfowls, etc, which come from Siberia and Mongolia from September to February every year.
  • WS Dibang

    InformationSatellite View
    It is located in the Upper Dibang Valley district covering an area of 4,149 km2 (1,602 sq mi). The sanctuary is rich in wildlife. Rare mammals such as Mishmi takin, red goral, musk deer (at least two species), red panda, Asiatic black bear, occasional tiger and Gongshan muntjac occur while among birds there are the rare Sclater's monal and Blyth's tragopan.
  • WS Eaglenest

    InformationSatellite View
    Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area) Bugun liocichla, a vulnerable species first discovered at Eaglenest WS in 1995 Location West Kameng, Arunachal Pradesh, India/Cona, Coordinates 27°06′0″N 92°24′0″ECoordinates: 27°06′0″N 92°24′0″E Area 218 square kilometres (84 sq mi) Established 1989 Visitors 75 (in 2006) Governing body Government of Arunachal Pradesh Eaglenest or Eagle's Nest Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area of India in the Himalayan foothills of West Kameng District, Arunachal Pradesh. It conjoins Sessa Orchid Sanctuary to the northeast and Pakhui Tiger Reserve across the Kameng river to the east. Altitude ranges are extreme: from 500 metres (1,640 ft) to 3,250 metres (10,663 ft). It is a part of the Kameng Elephant Reserve. Eaglenest is notable as a prime birding site due to the extraordinary variety, numbers and accessibility of species. It is home to at least 454 species of birds. Its name derives from Red Eagle Division of the Indian army which was posted in the area in the 1950s.
  • WS Kameng Elephant Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    The reserve extends from the Papum River in the east to the common boundary between Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan in the west. In the south it touches the common boundary of Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary and Nameri National Park of Assam. 300 species of birds have been recorded and there is a population of around 400 elephants.
  • WS Kamlang

    InformationSatellite View
    It is situated in the Lohit District of the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The park is named after the Kamlang River which flows through it. Wildlife in the park is similar to that found in the contiguous area of the Namdapha Tiger Reserve; there are 61 species of mammals, 105 bird species and 20 species of reptiles.
  • WS TR Pakke Tiger Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    At least 296 bird species have been recorded from PTR including the globally endangered white-winged wood duck, the unique ibisbill and the rare Oriental bay owl. PTR is a good place to see hornbills. Roost sites of wreathed hornbills and great hornbill can be observed on the river banks. Birds seen in PTR include: Jerdon's baza, pied falconet, white-cheeked hill-partridge, grey peacock-pheasant, elwe's crake, ibisbill, Asian emerald cuckoo, red-headed trogon, green pigeon spp., forest eagle owl, wreathed hornbill, great hornbill, collared broadbill and long-tailed broadbill, blue-naped pitta, lesser shortwing, white-browed shortwing, Daurian redstart, Leschenault's forktail, lesser necklaced laughing-thrush, silver-eared leiothrix, white-bellied yuhina, yellow-bellied flycatcher warbler, sultan tit, ruby-cheeked sunbird, maroon oriole, and crow-billed drongo.
  • WS Talley Valley

    InformationSatellite View
    Arunachal Pradesh as a whole contains 40% of the floral and faunal species in India. The Ziro valley has a good share of this biodiversity. Thirty kilometres from the town of Ziro is the sanctuary.
Trip Reports
  • 2015 [04 April] - James Eaton - Mishmi Hills, Assam & Eaglenest

    PDF Report
    This mammoth tour of the Eastern Himalaya lived up to everything it was set up to be –we recorded a total of 508 species (the biggest number on any of our tours to date), but as always in this region, it is quality, not quantity that impressed us most.
  • 2015 [04 April] - Oscar Campbell - Assam & Arunachal Pradesh

    PDF Report
    Early April is a slightly in-between time to visit this area; many winter visitors have vacated the plains (including Ibisbill at Nameri) but a few summer visitors are yet to arrive in any numbers. Some keyspecies at EagleNest, including Purple Cochoa and Begun Liocichla (for example) are vocal (sometimes) but not especially responsive compared to later in the month.
  • 2015 [05 May] - Pritam Baruah - Lohit Valley, Arunachal Pradesh, India Wakro, Udayak Pass, Hayuliang, Hawai, Walong, Kibithu

    PDF Report
    This area has recently become popular for birding ever since it revealed two new additions to the Indian checklist (Yunnan Nuthatch, Black-browed Bushtit) and three species difficult to find elsewhere in India (Godlewski’s Bunting, Derbyan Parakeet, Black-headed Greenfinch). Also, the Spot-breasted Parrotbill, hitherto reliable in India only in Nagaland is a common species in Walong.
  • 2017 [04 April] - EagleNest

    ...The stops were for the Tragopan and the Trogan - both of them who decided to give us a skip. We, however, got sightings and record shots of Slaty-bellied Tesia and the elusive Rufous-capped Babbler....
  • 2017 [05 May] - James Eaton -

    PDF Report
    ...we recorded a total of 455 species, but as always in this region, it is quality, not quantity that impressed us most. We began in western Arunachal Pradesh, soaking up Fire-tailed Myzornis, Himalayan Monal, Snow Partridge and the newly- described Himalayan Forest Thrush and its Alpine counterpart amid the dramatic alpine landscape at Se La before spending four days inside the now well-known Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • 2018 [03 March] - Peregrine Rowse - Mishmi Hills

    PDF Report
    The Mishmi Hills of far Eastern Arunachal Pradesh form part of the Himalayas and are the centre of a phenomenal diversity hot-spot. The area is not known particularly for endemism, although the Mishmi Wren Babbler is found only here, but for its incredible species richness.
  • 2018 [04 April] - David Stanton

    PDF Report
    I first visited Eaglenest WLS in West Kemang district of Arunachal Pradesh in 2008 as part of a bird survey organized by Ramana Athreya. The highlight of that trip was a Wedge bill wren babbler (now known as Sikkim wedge billed babbler or Blackish breasted babbler) who responded to playback and came out in the open for over five minutes. Birds response to playback was very different on this current trip.
  • 2018 [05 May] - Phil Gregory

    ...The journey over to Lama Camp at Eaglenest took the morning, with Yellow-breasted Greenfinch for all, and Tickell's Thrush for some en route, and began with a major frisson of excitement when about half our group got to see Bugun Liocichla right by the camp, found just as they were coming up to meet us. It was a bust for those of us not there of course, but hope springs eternal......Nice birds this afternoon included good looks at Bhutan Laughing-thrush, Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Lemon-rumped Warbler, Rufous-throated and Streaked Barwing, Rufous-crowned Laughing-thrush and Striated Laughing-thrush....
  • 2019 [05 May] - James Eaton - Nagaland, Eaglenest, Assam and Mishmi Hills

    PDF Report
    We began in Nagaland, where four important laughingthrushes appeared – Yellow-throated, Spot-breasted, Striped and Assam, along with Naga Wren Babbler, Dark-rumped Swift and a superb male Blyth’s Tragopan in full view. A day at Kaziranga for Slender-billed Babbler, Indian Grassbird and the less subtle megafauna, before we ventured into Arunachal Pradesh, soaking up Himalayan Monal, Solitary Snipe, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Snow Partridge, Himalayan Forest Thrush and its Alpine counterpart amid the dramatic alpine landscape at Se La before spending four days inside the now well-known Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • 2019 [12 December] - Aseem Kothiala -

    ...Enroute, we could hear the calls of the skulker Snowy throated babbler, it indeed was one of the fastest disappearing birds that I had come across. Before one can watch through the viewfinder, they would call and fly off to another perch...
  • 2022 [05 May] - Jules Eden

    PDF Report
    We were going for Ward’s Trogon and the joy of a private trip like this is that we were going to get it, as the plan was to stay until that moment and if it dragged on, to buy a house there, marry a local , get residency and only clear out of the mountains when the job was done.
Other Links
  • Bugun Liocichla

    The Bugun liocichla (Liocichla bugunorum) is a passerine bird species from the Leiothrichidae family[2] closely related to the Emei Shan liocichla. First spotted in 1995 in Arunachal Pradesh, India, it was described as a new species in 2006.

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