Himachal Pradesh

Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus ©Vimal Rajyaguru - Wikimedia Commons
Birding Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh is a state in the Punjab region in north-west India. Himachal Pradesh is spread over 21,629 sq mi (56,019 km²), and is bordered by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir on north, Punjab on west and south-west, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on south, Uttarakhand on south-east and by Tibet on the east. The literal meaning of Himachal Pradesh is Region of snowy mountains.Himachal Pradesh has one of the highest per capita incomes of any state in India. Due to the abundance of perennial rivers, Himachal also sells hydro electricity to other states such as Delhi, Punjab & Rajasthan. The economy of the state is highly dependent on three sources: hydroelectric power, tourism and agriculture.

Himachal is situated in the western Himalayas. Covering an area of 55,780 kilometres (34,660 mi),[1] Himachal Pradesh is a mountainous state with elevation ranging from about 350 metres (1,148 ft) to 6,000 metres (19,685 ft) above the sea level.The drainage system of Himachal is composed both of rivers and glaciers. Himalayan rivers criss-cross the entire mountain chain. In fact the rivers are older than the mountain system. Himachal Pradesh provides water to both the Indus and Ganges basins. The drainage systems of the region are the Chandra Bhaga or the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej and the Yamuna. These rivers are perennial and are fed by snow and rainfall. They are protected by an extensive cover of natural vegetation. There is great variation in the climatic conditions of Himachal due to extreme variation in elevation. The climate varies from hot and sub-humid tropical in the southern tracts to cold, alpine and glacial in the northern and eastern mountain ranges with more elevation. The state has areas like Dharamsala that receive very heavy rainfall, as well as those like Lahaul and Spiti that are cold and almost rainless. Broadly Himachal experience three seasons; hot weather season, cold weather season and rainy season. Summer lasts from mid April till the end of June and most parts become very hot (except in alpine zone which experience mild summer) with the average temperature ranging from 28 °C (82 °F) to 32 °C (90 °F). Winter lasts from late November till mid March. Snowfall is common in alpine tracts (generally above 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) i.e. in the Higher and Trans-Himalayan region).

According to 2003 Forest Survey of India report, legally defined forest areas constitute 66.52% of the area of Himachal Pradesh, although area under tree cover is only 25.78%. Vegetation in the state is dictated by elevation and precipitation. The southern part of the state which is at lower elevation has both tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests and tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests.[14] A part of the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests, the vegetation is dominated by sal, sisham, chir pine, dry deciduous and moist broad-leafed forests. The temperate region grows oaks, deodar, blue pine, fir and spruce. In the uppermost region, trees are sturdy with a vast network of roots. Alders, birches, rhododendrons and moist alpine scrubs are there as the regional vegetation. The rhododendrons can be seen along the hillsides around Shimla from March to May.Himachal is also said to be the fruit bowl of the country with orchards scattered all over the place. Meadows and pastures are also seen clinging to steep slopes. After the winter season, the hillsides and orchards bloom with wild flowers, while gladiolas, carnations, marigolds, roses, chrysanthemums, tulips and lilies are carefully cultivated. The state government is gearing up to make Himachal Pradesh as the flower basket of the world.Himachal Pradesh is a well known habitat to a variety of animals. There are around 1200 bird and 359 animal species in the state. This includes the leopards, ghoral, snow leopard, musk deer (the state animal) and Western Tragopan (the state bird). It has 12 major national parks and sanctuaries – the largest number in the Himalayan region. The Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu district was created to conserve the flora and fauna of the main Himalayan range, while the Pin Valley National Park to conserve the flora and fauna of the cold desert.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 775

    (As at December 2018)

    State Bird: Western Tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus

Useful Reading

  • Birds Recorded During a Study in Himachal Pradesh

    By Diljeet Singh | Renu Publishers | 2015 | Paperback | 184 pages, plates with colour photos | ISBN: 9788185502038 Buy this book from NHBS.com

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Great Himalayan National Park

    InformationSatellite View
    The park represents an excellent crossection of western Himalayan avifauna. The Western Tragopan, a highly endandered species of pheasant, is one of 300 species of birds.
  • NP Pin Valley

    InformationSatellite View
    Because of the park's high altitude and extreme temperatures, the vegetation in the area is scant, consisting mostly of alpine trees and patches of Himalayan cedar. In summer, rare birds like the Himalayan snowcock, chukar, snow partridge and snowfinch flourish in the area. The park's unexplored higher reaches and slopes are habitats for a number of endangered mammals including the snow leopard and Siberian ibex.
  • NP Simbalbara

    InformationSatellite View
    Simbalbara National Park is a national park in India, located in the Paonta Valley of Sirmour District, Himachal Pradesh, along its border with Haryana. The vegetation consists of dense Sal forests with grassy glades.
  • WS Chail Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    Chail Sanctuary is located at Chail, a hill station which is abode of wildlife. One can see sambar, goral and cheer pheasants at Blossom and Jhaja. Barking deer and kalijin are seen during dusk and dawn. The best time to visit is from March to October.
  • WS Churdhar Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    The sanctuary is named after the Churdhar Peak. Churdhar (elevation of 3,647 metres; 11,965 feet) is the highest peak in Shimla district and is also the highest peak in the outer Himalayas. The total covered area of this sanctuary is 56.16 square kilometres.
  • WS Daranghati Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    The Daranghati Sanctuary is located in Shimla District Rampur Bushahr, Himachal Pradesh, India. It has undisturbed forest areas. Monal, Tragopan, Koklas and Kalij are the pheasants found here.
  • WS Kalatop Khajjiar Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    The sanctuary area is well laid out for trekking trails both at Kalatop and Khajjiar. There is a dense deodar and fir forest covering 19.63 km² of the sanctuary, which is about 6 km from Dalhousie. Pheasants, serow and black bear are some of the common animals found here.
  • WS Renuka

    InformationSatellite View
    The fauna of the area including the birds are Lepopard, Samber, Spotted Deer, Barking deer Jackal, Hare, Jungle cat, Plam Civet, Porcupine, Blue jay, Black Partridge, Drongos, Hill Crow, Scarlet Minivet, Bulbul, Common Coots, Green Pigeons…
Guides & Tour Operators
  • India Footprints

    Tour Operator
    The birding trip encapsulates an area in Himachal Pradesh which is a birders paradise. The high altitude, deep valleys and river basins make this region picturesque and enchanting. In most of the places heavy rainfall does not occur hence the region is ideal for bring in summers and during the monsoon. Due to steep elevation some degree of difficulty arises at some place it is high. The snow covered massive Himalayan Range adds panoramic spectacle while bird watching all over
Trip Reports
  • 2010 [06 June] - Anand Srinivasa - Kinnaur

    The following is the birding report of Shri Anand Srinivasa (bng birds) in the course of his visit to Himachal Pradesh. His photographs bear the tale of a glorious day. Many thanks to him for providing us the details of the trip. We wish him many more such wonderful days…
  • 2015 [08 August] - Jean-Yves Barnagaud - Ladakh, Spiti and Delhi

    PDF Report
    The purpose of my 2015 trip was to mix birding and visiting new places, including the Dah and Spiti valleys, and some 8 trekking days into the valleys of Karnakh, all of which are neartourist free (and rarely birded), although they offer exceptionally scenic landscapes, diverse habitats and unforgettable time with local people. I have tried to keep a track of all bird records of this trip on a day-per-day basis, except for the most abundant species. This report is bird-focused but a non-bird report is available upon request.
Places to Stay
  • Parkwoods Forest Retreat

    Parkwood Shogi, near Shimla, is a great destination base for bird watching. The verdant, sylvan surroundings in the Himalayan ambience are home to many different species of birds
Other Links
  • Birdwatching in Kangra Valley and Dhauladhar Hills, Dharamsala

    I live in Dharamsala which is a city located in the foothills of the Himalayas situated in the state of Himachal Pradesh, North India. It presents a fantastic opportunity for bird enthusiasts of all levels and is also an area of outstanding natural beauty and variety. In this valley some 556 birds have been recorded which accounts for more than half the entire species of birds in India and is one of the richest Birding areas in South Asia. It also boasts the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and therefore offers other tourist opportunities and interests for anyone that may be interested in Buddhism or other spiritual practices

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