Birds of Bhutan

White Bellied Heron in flight

Bhutan today boasts of harboring 5,369 plant species and 5,114 species of animals of which about 774 species are birds. Many Birds of Bhutan are rare birds of the world. Owing to Bhutan’s strict nature and conservation policies bird population in Bhutan is thriving which has become the envy of birders and ornithologists from across the globe. The protected wildlife parks and sanctuaries and designated biological corridors, protected routes for trans-migration of animals, have also been pivotal in ensuring that these rich assortments of floral and faunal wonders are safe and thriving. So learn about Bhutan Bird Watching Tour here.

Introduction

Bhutan’s climate map and ecological biodiversity are classified into three broad categories; the warm sub-tropical forests, the temperate region, and the cool sub-alpine region. While these regions have their own special characteristics and significance birding is usually popular in the sub-tropical forests of Trashiyangtse, Zhemgang, Trongsa, and Mongar where elevations range from 1,500-3,000 meters. These warm river valleys are home to some of the rarest bird species on the planet and avid birder and photographer in you is bound to take new dimensions if you plan a trip right into the heart of a nation where conservation of natural ecosystem remains the bloodline of the development philosophy. 

Bhutan Himalayan Monal
Bhutan Himalayan Monal

Bhutan: A Birding Paradise

A well-established birder explains why Bhutan can be an exclusive destination for birders. – By David Billing 

Birding or bird watching has great potential to become a popular tourism activity in Bhutan. Unlike other Himalayan countries, Bhutan still retains much of its forest cover. Thus, forests and scrubland support 85% of the country’s breeding birds.

Great Hornbill
Great Hornbill

More than 620 species of bird have been recorded so far and there are likely to be new species to be found in the remoter river catchment areas in the future. This number is considered large relative compared to the size of the country – for example, there are less than 800 species found in the whole of North America. 

Birds of Bhutan

Bhutan has a wide range of habitats for birds ranging from Subtropical forest (including the globally threatened Rufous-necked Hornbill), Warm Broadleaved forest (includes White-naped Yuhina), Cool Broad-leaved forest (includes globally threatened Chestnut-breasted Partridge and Blyth’s Tragopan), Chir pine (poor in bird species but includes Hill Prinia), Blue pine (also bird poor but includes Rufous-fronted Tit and Yellow-billed blue Magpie), Spruce (low bird diversity but includes Buff barred Warbler and Great-crested Tit), Hemlock (including the red Crossbill), Fir (rich in bird species, including Hoary-throated Barwing, and Satyr Tragopan), Bamboo (important for lesser and greater rufous-headed parrrotbills), Juniper/Rhododendron (including White-winged Grosbeak and Fire-tailed Sunbird), and Alpine grasslands (including Tibetan Snowcock, Alpine Accentor, and Grandala). Each habitat has its own unique collection of bird species.

The Following are the picture of few birds of Bhutan.

Birds at Jigme Dorji National Park

On a warmer day with clouds or blue skies, along the nearby Wang Chu River, upstream of Jigme Dorji National Park within an approximate space of two hours, many bird species like the Spotted Nutcracker, white-capped Water Redstart, Blue-fronted Redstart, Black-faced Laughing Thrush, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Orange-flanked Bush Robin, Russet Sparrows, White-napped Yuhina, Blue Throated Flycatcher, and golden Eagle on the thermals above the valley can be seen.

There are bird species that can be found all over Bhutan and in adjacent countries too. However, Thimphu valley is a good starting point to guarantee seeing a wide range of bird species.  Cheri monastery and Upper Motithang valley are also good starting places. 

Most Rare Bird in the world

According to the fat birder website, 14 species recorded in Bhutan have been identified as globally threatened by BirdLife International. Bhutan is home to some of the rarest birds in the world. These include White-bellied Heron, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Blyth’s Tragopan, Wood Snipe, Dark-rumped Swift, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Grey-crowned Prinia, and Beautiful Nuthatch, all of which probably breed in Bhutan. Bhutan is an important winter ground for species like the Black- Necked Crane. Greater-spotted Eagle is a rare passage migrant, Baer’s Pochard, Imperial Eagle, and Hodgson’s Bushchat are regular vagrants.

Black Necked Crane Bhutan
Black Necked Crane in Bumdeling Bhutan

Bhutan can be highly recommended as a destination for bird watching which, when combined with its spectacular scenery and friendly people, is the ultimate eco-tourism destination.

Always remember that when you see seven black crows in the air, it is a sign of good luck according to Buddhist customs. So keep watching out for birds in Bhutan. You might get lucky too.

“More  than 620 species of birds have been recorded so far and there are likely to be new species to be found in the remoter river catchment areas in the future”

Birding Trek: Bhutan 

Bhutan has an excellent set of trekking routes that combine a variety of bird habitats. The most popular seasons for birding in Bhutan are spring and autumn. There is also the chance of seeing passage migrants crossing from the Tibetan plateau to the hot Indian plains. In addition, climate change is affecting the local altitudinal migration patterns of birds. Some species that are normally only found at lower altitudes are now also found at higher cooler altitudes even in winter like the White-naped Yuhina.

Most trekking routes pass through protected areas such as Toorsa Strict Nature Reserve, Jigme Dorji National Park, Royal Manas Natural Park, and Phobjikha valley where the Black Necked Cranes are in residence during the winter months up to early April.

Bhutan Bird Watching Tour

Bird watching Tour in Bhutan
Bird watching Tour in Bhutan

You can choose to do Bhutan Bird Watching Tour by following the easy routes. You can check out the birding places in Bhutan here with easy routes. And the other option would be by engaging in Bhutan Treks. Bhutan Trekking routes can be graded from easy to strenuous and have a duration of 3-14 days generally. When adapting the routes to bird watching, there is a need to recalculate the number of days needed for each trip. We will be able to design trips to fit the needs of birding groups. For more information on Bhutan Bird Watching Tour, you can Contact Us. We have the birding experts guide who can help you with your Bhutan Bird Watching Tour Itinerary so you can enjoy watching the rare birds of the world.

 

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Bhutan Best Inbound Tour is a Bhutan Travel company and is a registered Bhutan Tour operators company under the umbrella of the Tourism Council of Bhutan. We handle all kinds of travel arrangements including Bhutan Visa, Bhutan Flight, Bhutan Itinerary design and Hotel booking. With a belief in quality and services, Bhutan Inbound is a reliable and efficient travel organizer in Bhutan for foreign and domestic tourists, business travelers, special interest visitors and events.
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