Forest Owlet Athene blewitti ©Nikhil Devasar Website
Birding Maharashtra

Maharashtra (abbreviation MH) is a state in the western region of India and is India’s second-most populous state and third-largest state by area. Spread over 307,713 km2 (118,809 square miles), it is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west and the Indian states of Karnataka, Telangana, Goa, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and the Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. It is also the world’s second-most populous subnational entity. It has over 112 million inhabitants and its capital, Mumbai, has a population of approximately 18 million. Nagpur is Maharashtra’s second capital as well as its winter capital. It is one of the most industrialised states of the Indian union. . The east west length is about 800km (72°6′ to 80°9’E) and north to south the length is about 700km.

Maharashtra can be divided into five areas.Konkan (Coastal Maharashtra) 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 receives up to 3,000mm of rainfall annually. Its six districts are Thane, Mumbai (Bombay) city, Mumbai Suburb, Raigad, Ratnagiri, and Sindhudurg.Desh is the rain-shadow belt adjoining the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. It is the western uplands of Maharashtra with an average height of 500m to 600m above sea level, 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 a year. The Western Ghats or Sahyandri 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 gets up to 6,000mm of yearly rainfall Marathwada is the hot and dry region of central Maharashtra and is made up of 8 districts of Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed, Osmanabad, Latur, Nanded, Parbhani and Hingoli. The average rainfall throughout the region is just 500mm per anum.Vidarbha is the easternmost division of the state comparising eleven districts – Buldana, Akola, Washim, Yeotmal, Amaravati, Vardha, Nagpur, Chandarpur, Bhandara, Gadchiroli and Gondia. It has the most area under forest. The rainfall increases in this region with average ranging between 1000mm to 1500mm.

The Avifauna of MaharashtraThe state has a very rich avifauna with more than 500 species recorded from the state so far. If the subspecies are taken into account then the list is more than 540. Prakash Gole classified them as follows: Resident species 255; Local or International migrants 245; Stragglers or irregular visitors 40; Species known to be breeding 168; Species that breed in specific areas only 56; Species about which 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 being sighted only a few times (Ashy Minivet, Imperial Eagle, Scaup Duck, Pelican sp. etc.) There are birds that were thought to be extinct such as 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 (1986) and Forest Spotted Owlet was re-discovered in the Satpuda forests (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. Other commoner and abundant birds are the House Crow, House Sparrow, Blue Rock Pigeon, Common Myna, Common (Black) Kite, Red-vented and Red-whiskered Bulbuls. 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 because of the protection it has received in someplaces, thanks to religious sentiments.

Birding AreasThe 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.

  • Vijay Barve


Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 643

    (As at April 2020)

    State Bird: Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea

Useful Reading

  • Birds of Maharashtra

    | By Satish Pande, Pramod Deshpande & Niranjant Sant | Ela Foundation | 2013 | Paperback | 329 pages, colour illustrations | ISBN: 9788190695589 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Western Maharashtra: A Reference Guide

    | By Ananad Prasad | Other India Bookstore | 2006 | Paperback | 315 pages, no illustrations | ISBN: 9788185569734 Buy this book from
  • Birds of the Mumbai Region

    | By Sunjoy Monga | Yuhina Eco-Media | 2016 | Paperback | 400 pages, colour photos, 1 colour map | ISBN: 9788192250991 Buy this book from
  • Important Bird Areas of Maharashtra

    | (Priority Sites for Conservation) | By Asad R Rahmani, M Zafar-ul Islam, Raju Kasambe & Jayant Wadatkar | OUP | 2014 | Paperback | 174 pages, 77 colour photos, 21 colour maps | ISBN: 9780198098683 Buy this book from
  • National Parks and Sanctuaries in Maharashtra

    | 2 Volumes | By Pratibha Pande & Neema Pathak | Bombay Natural History Society | 2005 | Paperback | ISBN: 9788190264709 Buy this book from
  • Threatened Birds of Maharashtra

    | By Asad R Rahmani, Raju Kasambe, Sujit Narwade, Pramod Patil & Noor I Khan | OUP | 2014 | Paperback | 221 pages, 92 colour photos, 39 colour distribution maps, tables | ISBN: 9780199451333 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • Bombay Natural History Society

    Hornbill House, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, Mumbai 400023. + 91 22 2843421
  • State Bird

    Green Imperial Pigeon Treron phoenicoptera

Abbreviations Key

  • Maharashtra Wildlife Parks

    InformationSatellite View
    Maharashtra state is home to many rare species of flora and fauna in 17 wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.
  • NP Chandoli

    InformationSatellite View
    Nearly 23 species of mammals, 122 species of birds, 20 species of amphibians and reptiles are known to be resident in the forests of Chandoli. Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, Indian bison, leopard cats, sloth bears and Indian giant squirrels are quite conspicuous here.
  • NP Gugamal

    InformationSatellite View
    The area is rich in wild mammals including Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, sloth bear, Ussuri dhole, Indian jackal, striped hyena, chausinga, sambar (largest Deer on earth) gaur, barking deer, ratel, flying squirrel, cheetal (type of Deer), nilgai, wild boar, langur, rhesus monkey, and macaque.
  • NP Navegaon

    InformationSatellite View
    The Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Navegaon is home to almost 60% of the bird species found in entire Maharashtra. Every winter, flocks of beautiful migratory birds visit the lake—a rare treat for the eyes. The national park has diverse type of vegetation ranging from dry mixed forest to moist forest. The forest type is 5 A/C3. Southern tropical dry deciduous forest.
  • NP Pench

    InformationSatellite View
    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…
  • NP Sanjay Gandhi (Formerly Borivili National Park)

    InformationSatellite View
    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.
  • Sewri Flamingo Point Bombay

    InformationSatellite View
    The point has large areas of mudflats which are not only a safe habitat for flamingos in winter but also has adequate food availability. A large number of flamingos reach along with their babies from their breeding area, Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, to Sewri every year. They arrive and stay between the month of October to March. Other bird species come to feed at the flats.
  • TR Melghat Tiger Project

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Melghat tiger reserve is located in the Amaravati district of Maharashtra. Melghat Tiger Reserve is located on the southern offshoot of the Satpura Hill Range in Central India, called Gavilgarh Hill. It is 225 km west of Nagpur. It was established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1967, and was declared a tiger reserve in 1974. It was among the first nine tiger reserves notified in 1973-74 under Project Tiger, a wildlife conservation project initiated in India in 1972 to protect Bengal tigers. It was the first tiger reserve of Maharashtra. It is still one of the biggest tiger reserves in the country in terms of area. The name 'Melghat' means the confluence of various 'ghats' or valleys as is typical from the landscape of this tiger Reserve.
  • TR Tadoba Andhari Tiger Project

    InformationSatellite View
    Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is a Tiger reserve in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra state in central India. It is notable as Maharashtra's oldest and largest National Park. It is one of India's 43 "Project Tiger" - Tiger reserves.…
  • WS Gautala Autramghat Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    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…
  • WS Nagzira

    InformationSatellite View
    Nagzira wildlife sanctuary is located between Bhandara district and Gondia district of Maharashtra at . Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary is locked in the arms of nature and adorned with a picturesque landscape, luxuriant vegetation and serves as a living outdoor museum to explore and appreciate nature. This sanctuary has a number of fish, 34 species of mammals, 166 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles and four species of amphibians.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • Birds of Bombay

    Mailing 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 yahoo-group seeks to provide such a meeting place.Please feel free to post your notes and observations regarding Birds of Bombay.
  • Birds of Maharashtra

    Facebook Group
    This group is to discuss the avian biodiversity of Maharashtra. The group covers entire Maharashtra State and the posts could be related to any part of the state. All bird watchers are requested to join the group and share
  • Maharashtra PakshiMitra

    Mailing Group
    The Friends of Birds and the members of Maharashtra Pakshimitra SanghatanaMitra Sanghatana and a forum to discuss everything related to birds in Maharashtra including Identification Queries, Check Lists, News etc.
Trip Reports
  • 2014 [01 January] - Frank Lambert - West India

    PDF Report
    …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…
  • 2015 [01 January] - Frank Lambert - Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra

    PDF Report
    ...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...
  • 2018 [01 January] - Mike Nelson & Rob Hutchinson - Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra

    PDF Report
    Eurasian Scops Owl was unexpected. The remainder of the Sykes’s trio of Lark and Warbler were added here and a morning along the shores of the Gulf of Kutch delivered an undectet of Crab-Plovers along with many shorebirds and gulls. Our final stop in the dry, deciduous forests of Maharashtra afforded us great views of the once enigmatic Forest Owlet. Overall, we managed 321species with only a single heard only. This along with a smattering of some fine mammals like Indian Wild Ass, Blackbuck, Indian Fox and Smooth Otter combined with some stunning scenery, delicious Indian cuisine and lashings of Masala Chai made for another great trip to West India.
  • 2020 [02 February] - Mike Nelson - Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra

    PDF Report
    With a list of highly endangered and regionally localized birds, western India is a priority tour for birders. From the marshlands of the Punjab down through arid scrubland into the rolling dunes of Desert National Park, the vast expanses of the Kutch and then across to the dry deciduous forests of Maharashtra, this year’s tour covered all of the desired species of the region.
Places to Stay
  • Kranti Flamingo Point

    Facebook Page
    The best place for watching birds. We arrange boat ride for you to watch birds in the Ujani Reservior. We ensure the safety first so that it is necessary to wear life jackets while boating and these jackets will be provided by Kranti flamingo point for every birder.
  • The Machan

    Our property makes a wonderful place for bird enthusiasts, where birds can be spotted from the comfort of their private deck or while taking a trek in the forest. Early risers will be welcomed with the sounds of melodic bird songs and calls. And try standing still in the forest, and the air around you will soon be filled with the chirping of a multitude of birds.
  • Tiger Fort Eco Resort

    Facebook Page
    he Tiger Fort Eco Resort itself lies near the Pench forest in a region that is one of the top biodiversity in Maharashtra.
  • Tiger Trails

    TigerTrails Jungle Lodges, a bush camp created by Amrut and Aditya Dhanwatay is the very finest example of how well directed tourism can actually help rewild barren lands, and are an example to us all.
Other Links
  • Top 10 Places To Go Birdwatching - Mumbai

    Many people are of the view that Mumbai is the financial capital of India and a city of high rising building competing each day and converting into a jungle of concrete .. When there is no space for the homo sapiens, how can little birds survive or for that matter think of getting space .But you will be surprised to know that about more than 200 species of birds have been recorded in Mumbai with ample of spots for birding in and around Mumbai….

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Skip to content