Photography - Destination

Bird Sanctuaries in India: Dream Destinations for Bird Photography!

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Photographing birds is an experience in itself. Birds symbolize colour, cheer and grandeur. To be able to capture some breath-taking shots of birds in motion is one of the dreams of almost every photographer. If you are aspiring to be a bird photographer, or simply want to try photographing our winged friends, you should know about the various bird sanctuaries in India.

Having a knowledge about these bird-havens will allow you to capture stunning images of migratory birds in India, along with some very beautiful indigenous bird species.

Top 26 bird sanctuaries in India

India has some of the world’s most enviable bird sanctuaries and we have compiled a list of some of the most popular ones. If you want to capture that perfect bird shot, head straight to one (or more) of these bird sanctuaries in India, and satiate your desire.

So, what are we waiting for?

Let’s get started with our list of destinations that you should definitely visit. 

Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Goa

Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Goa
Witness migratory birds at Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

This place counts among the best bird sanctuaries in India, and rightfully so. It is an estuarine mangrove located on the island of Chorao. It is the preferred destination for photographers and bird-watchers alike, who get to witness birds like black bittern, white egrets, drongos, western reef heron, striated heron, red knot and jack snipe in action.

Best time to visit

Although the place is open from 6 am to 6 pm, the best time for bird photography is between 6 and 7 am. Migratory birds can be sighted between October and March, making these months a preferred time to visit here.

Check the Detailed Guide for Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Goa

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary - A perfect heaven for birds

This sanctuary is Karnataka’s largest bird sanctuary. Home to more than 150 different kinds of birds, this place is ideal for bird photography enthusiasts who wish to capture some beautiful bird shots. It is the preferred nesting site for many birds. Oriental darters, stork-billed kingfishers, streak throated swallows, egrets and whistling ducks are some of the bird species that you will find here. Many migratory birds from Siberia and Russia arrive here and you can have a good look at them.

Best time to visit

The sanctuary remains open from dawn till dusk and most bird photographers prefer to reach here early in the day. Migratory birds can be sighted between November and January.

Check the Detailed Guide for Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary- Karnataka's Heaven For Bird Photography

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Rajasthan

bharatpur bird sanctuary in rajasthan
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is a UNESCO site!

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is one of the most famous destinations on the list of bird sanctuaries in India, and also known as Keoladeo National Park. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to more than 350 species of birds including wagtails, stints, larks, buntings etc. Nature lovers and wildlife photographers will find a lot of animals too, including nilgai, boars, sambar, chital etc.

Best time to visit

The park is open from 8 am to 5 pm, but bird photographers should go as early as possible to get the best chances of capturing birds in their cameras.

Check out the Complete Guide for Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur: A World Heritage Site for Bird Photography

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu

This bird sanctuary is Tamil Nadu’s is one of the best in the list of bird sanctuaries in India. Covering an area of 30 acres, this sanctuary is home to more than 40,000 migratory birds. Other birds that can be found here are garganeys, grey wagtails, pintails, spoonbills, sandpipers etc.

Best time to visit

The sanctuary is open from 6 am to 6 pm. An early visitation is desirable for capturing the best bird photographs. Visiting between October and January will ensure sightings of migratory birds.

Mayani Bird Sanctuary, Maharashtra

Mayani Bird Sanctuary, Maharashtra

This sanctuary is a wetland ecosystem that has an extremely rich diversity of flora, fauna, and birds like the coot, flamingos, spoonbills, brahminny ducks, and kingfishers. Located in the draught-prone town known as Vaduj, this sanctuary attracts about 400 migratory birds.

Best time to visit

The park is open from sunrise to sunset. The best bird photographs are captured either in the early morning or just around sunset. For capturing shots of migratory birds, you should visit this place between November and January.

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, Haryana

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, Haryana
Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, Haryana

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, Haryana is another great option for photographers who wish to add bird shots to their portfolios. Located in Gurgaon, Haryana, this is among the bird sanctuaries in India that are easily reachable from New Delhi.

Not only is this place an ideal destination for bird photographers, it is also one of the preferred spots for many migratory birds that arrive from Eastern Europe, Siberia, and Russia. Some of the star attractions here are greater flamingos, common teel, wagtail, rosy pelican, and northern shoveler.The sanctuary has more than 250 species of native and migratory birds. Some of the native birds you can find here are mynah, great egret, kingfisher, rock pigeon, black-necked stork, and egrets. 

Best time to visit

The sanctuary is open from 6 am to 4:30 pm but the best bird photographs are obtained early in the morning. Bird photographers make it a point to reach early in the morning so that they can witness birds in action. Migratory birds can only be found during winter months of November to January.

Check the Complete Guide for Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary: A Bird's Paradise for Birding Photography Enthusiasts!

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kerala
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is located just next to the famous Vembanad lake and surrounded by verdant plains replete with greenery. This place is among the most popular bird sanctuaries in India and attracts a large number of tourists. It is also a great destination for finding and clicking some great shots of migratory birds of Russia and Siberia.

Some of the indigenous varieties of birds that are found here include larks, owls, egrets, parrots, and kingfishers.

Best time to visit

The sanctuary is open between 6 am and 6 pm but reaching as soon as it opens is recommended for photography. Migratory birds can be sighted between November and January.

Check out the Complete Guide for Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary: A Perfect Date with Birds for Photography!

Kaundinya Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

Kaundinya Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
Kaundinya Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh (source)

Another great option for bird photographers is this sanctuary that is home to a large variety of native birds like grey pelicans, painted storks, cockatiels; animals like tigers, jungle cats, sloths, elephants and porcupines; and migratory birds.

Best time to visit

The sanctuary opens at dawn and closes its gates at dusk. Bird photographers prefer to be here at the opening time to ensure the best chances of finding frame-worthy bird shots. If you want to capture migratory birds in your lens, you should visit between November and January.

Uppalapadu Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

Uppalapadu Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
Uppalapadu Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

Yet another entry in the list of bird sanctuaries in India from Andhra Pradesh is the Uppalapadu Bird Sanctuary.Photography enthusiasts will find avocets, gadwalls, pelicans and painted storks, among many other varieties of birds here. It is also host to a large number of migratory birds who travel all the way from Russia, Siberia, and Eastern Europe.

Best time to visit

For bird photography, the sanctuary is best visited as soon as it opens at dawn. Migratory birds can be shot (only by a camera, of course) between November and January.

Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary, Orissa

Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary
Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary

Chilka is a very popular destination for travelers, nature lovers, and wildlife photographers. Chilka Lake is Asia’s largest saltwater lake and attracts not only humans, but also a huge variety of birds and animals. Some of the birds among the 225 odd-varieties that you can find here are eagles, flamingos, and geese.

Other than birds, you will also find dolphins, limbless lizards, prawns and crabs in and around the lake. It is India’s largest wintering ground for migratory birds.

Best time to visit

The sanctuary remains open between 6 am and 7 pm but the best bird photographs are captured early in the day. Migratory birds are best sighted between November and January.

Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Gujarat

Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Gujarat
Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Gujarat

Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Gujarat is different for other bird sanctuaries in India because it is considered to be the haven for the Great Indian Bustard, but some other varieties of bustards can also be found here, for example, Houbara Bustard, Florican bustard, and Macqueen’s bustard. A guided tour is highly recommended here.

Best time to visit

The sanctuary remains open between dawn and dusk. Bird photography is best done in the first half of the day, starting as soon as the place opens.

Check out the Complete Guide for Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary

Atapaka Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

Atapaka Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
Atapaka Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

Yet another bird haven in the form of Atapaka bird sanctuary awaits photographers, and bird lovers. Atapaka Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh is home to a whopping 200,000 birds like pied avocets, common redshanks, glossy ibises, black-winged stilts, northern pintails, and cormorants.

In addition, it also attracts a large number of migratory birds all the way from Australia, Egypt, and the Philippines.

Best time to visit

Photographers prefer to visit this place early in the morning as soon as the sun rises because this is the best time to capture excellent shots. The months between November and February are considered the best for sighting migratory birds.

Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat

Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat
Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat

This sanctuary is India’s largest water bird sanctuary. Bird photographers and nature enthusiasts have to hire a boat and explore different parts of the lake in order to sight different birds. You will find geese, pelicans, flamingos, and spoonbills in abundance here.

Best time to visit

The sanctuary is open between 6 am and 6 pm but bird photography is best earlier in the day.

Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh

Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh
Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh

This bird sanctuary is situated in the Unnao region of Uttar Pradesh, surrounding a freshwater lake that acts as home to more than 250 varieties of birds. Birds like greylag goose, cotton teal, open bill stork, pintail, and dabchick are very common here. These Migratory birds arrive here from Eastern Europe, Tibet, and Serbia. Some of the common native birds found here are the sarus crane, vulture, pigeon, peafowl, painted stork and purple moorhen.

Best time to visit

This place remains open from sunrise till sunset. The sanctuary attracts maximum visitors between November and June, and migratory birds arrive here between November and March.

Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

This is one of the iconic bird sanctuaries in India that has the largest number of pelicans. In addition to being home to pelicans, this sanctuary is also one of the favoured places of many species of birds for nesting. More than 50 species of migratory birds also visit this place. You will be able to sight and photograph birds like night heron, white ibis, painted stork, cormorant, and spoonbill. Don’t forget to visit the attached museum and library.

Best time to visit

Early morning time is the best for capturing the best photographs of birds. The ideal time to visit Nelapattu bird sanctuary is between November and February when migratory birds are abundant here.

Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary, West Bengal

Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary, West Bengal
Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary, West Bengal

This sanctuary is located in the rural outskirts of Kolkata and is home to a variety of birds including the blue toothed flycatcher, little spider hunter, collared scops owl, Asian Koel, hawk and black-headed bulbul.

Best time to visit

The sanctuary remains open between 7 am and 4 pm but bird photography is best done in morning hours.

Jawaharlal Nehru Bustard Sanctuary, Maharashtra

Jawaharlal Nehru Bustard Sanctuary, Maharashtra
Jawaharlal Nehru Bustard Sanctuary, Maharashtra

This sanctuary is considered to be one of the best bird sanctuaries in India for spotting the Great Indian Bustard. Other birds that can be spotted and photographed here are the spot-billed duck, grey francolin, and snake eagle.

Best time to visit

The sanctuary remains open from dawn to dusk but early morning visitations are ideal for bird photography. The months from August to January are the most popular for photography.

Attiveri Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka

Attiveri Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka
Attiveri Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka

The Attiveri Bird sanctuary was created because of construction of the Tayawwanhalla dam in Attiveri village. The sanctuary is home to more than 75 species of birds, including many migratory bird species. Among these birds, about 50 species are aquatic. You will be easily able to click pictures of birds like cattle egret, little cormorant, pied kingfisher, white-throated kingfisher, Indian grey hornbill and black-headed ibis.

Best time to visit

The ideal time for visiting this sanctuary is between November and March when migratory birds are easily sighted and photographed. It is advisable to reach here early in the morning to be able to get excellent opportunities for taking shots.

Najafgarh Drain Bird Sanctuary, Delhi

Najafgarh Drain Bird Sanctuary, Delhi
Najafgarh Drain Bird Sanctuary, Delhi

This bird sanctuary is located in New Delhi and considered to be one of the oldest bird sanctuaries in this region. Among the many birds that you will find here, some common varieties are Indian pond herons, whistling ducks, flamingos, egrets, vultures, spoonbills, and pelicans. In addition, there are many migratory birds from Siberia and Russia that visit this sanctuary in the winter time.

Best time to visit

The sanctuary is open to visitors between dawn and dusk, but the best bird photography shots are taken early in the morning. The ideal season to sight migratory birds is between November and March.

Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

Pulicat lake is India’s second largest saltwater lake, after lake Chilka. The adjoining bird sanctuary is most famous for greater flamingos, but other birds like the painted stork and spotted pelican are also spotted frequently. It also hosts a big number of migratory birds every year and is among the preferred bird sanctuaries in India for nesting. The sanctuary remains open to the public between sunrise and sunset and reaching as soon as possible is recommended for bird photography.

Best time to visit  

The most preferred time to visit the Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary is between October and March when the lake is replete with migratory birds.

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary features in the list of bird sanctuaries in India with the highest biodiversity. It was especially dear to the noted ornithologist of India, Dr. Salim Ali. Among the huge variety of birds found here, some notable ones are Ceylon frogmouth, ash tail, ashy wood swallow, chestnut headed bee eater, rufous woodpecker, Malabar grey hornbill, red wattled lapwing and orange minivet.

These are just a tiny fraction of the total species of birds here, in addition to migratory birds that flock this place. This place is truly a bird photographer’s place of choice.

Best time to visit

The sanctuary remains open for public between sunrise and sunset but the most amazing bird photography shots are taken early in the day.November to February is considered the best time to visit this place because migratory birds are plentiful at this time.

Bakhira Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh

Bakhira Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh
Bakhira Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh

Yet another bird sanctuary in India that is located in Uttar Pradesh is the Bakhira bird sanctuary. This bird-haven is situated by the lake Bakhira and is a natural floodplain. This sanctuary is most famous for the indigenous bird Kaima, swamphen and purple moorhen. In addition, a large number of migratory birds arrive here from Siberia, Russia, and Tibet.

Best time to visit

Though the sanctuary is open between dawn and dusk, bird photographers reach here early in the day to be able to capture the best bird shots. The months between November and February are especially favoured for visits because of the presence of migratory birds during this time.

Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary, Kerala
Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Yet another entry in the list of bird sanctuaries in India that are located in Kerala is the Mangalavanam bird sanctuary. It is a preferred nesting ground for many birds, including some species of migratory birds. The mangroves, trees, plants, animals, and birds in this nature reserve make it one of the most sought-after destinations of bird photographers and nature lovers alike. Birds like common redshank, brahminy kite, common greenshank, marsh sandpiper, egret, heron, cormorant, lapwing and white-breasted waterhen are found here.

Best time to visit

Bird photographers should reach here as soon as the sanctuary opens around sunrise. January to March is the perfect time for sighting and photographing the maximum variety of birds, including migratory birds.

Pathiramanal Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Pathiramanal Bird Sanctuary, Kerala
Pathiramanal Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Continuing with the list of bird sanctuaries in India, another awesome destination for bird lovers is the Pathiramanal bird sanctuary, located on the island with the same name. With more than 50 indigenous species and more than 90 species of migratory birds, this sanctuary is the ideal spot for bird photography. Some of the commonly sighted birds here include stork-billed kingfishers, pintail ducks, intermediate egrets, whiskered terns, watercocks and purple herons.

Best time to visit

Because of the increased activity of birds in early morning hours, it is recommended that photographers reach here as soon as the sanctuary opens around dawn. Months between November and January are especially suitable for sighting migratory birds.

Samaspur Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh

Samaspur Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh
Samaspur Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh

Established in 1987, Samaspur Bird Sanctuary is home to more than 250 species of birds in their natural habitat. Examples include teal whistling, vultures, spot bill teel, surkhab, and kingfishers. In addition, many migratory birds arrive here to spend wintering period near the Samaspur lake.

Best time to visit

The sanctuary remains open from sunrise to sunset and bird photographers are encourages to reach here early in the morning in order to capture the best photographs of birds in action. The months between November and March are ideal for catching some of the best shots of migratory birds.

Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu

Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu
Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu

This is a unique destination in our compilation of the best bird sanctuaries in India. The peculiarity of this place is that it is the largest breeding water reserve in South India and attracts more than one lakh birds annually, including common teal, bar-headed goose, green sandpiper, pintail, white stork, and coot. This reserve is actively protected by the Koonthakulam village community and violators are punished.

Best time to visit

The ideal time to visit this sanctuary is between November and March when migratory birds are abundant. Early morning visitations ensure great bird sightings and awesome bird photography.

Summing Up

If you think you have read about all the bird sanctuaries in India that are excellent destinations for bird photography, you are absolutely correct!

However, once you are done with the list above, there are plenty of other options available for you to choose from. Some examples in the state of Tamil Nadu include Suchindram Theroor bird sanctuary, Vaduvoor bird sanctuary, Udayamarthandapuram bird sanctuary, Vellode bird sanctuary and Vettangudi bird sanctuary.

Still looking for more options?

Consider the options of Khijadiya bird sanctuary and Porbandar bird sanctuary in Gujarat, Patna bird sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh, Jayakawadi bird sanctuary, Karnala bird sanctuary and Nandurmadheshwar bird sanctuary in Maharashtra.

Although we have made an elaborate list of bird sanctuaries in India that are havens for bird photographers, we are pretty sure that you will find many more on the list of national parks and bird sanctuaries in India. All you need to do is to visit the place, and you will capture some of your best bird shots.

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