With Himalayas crowning the state all along its Northern borders the region is rich in snow fed rivers and lacks. Combine with it the abounding tropical as well as coniferous forests in the lower hills and it makes a prefect mix for myriad species of birds to roost. Bushes and shrubs of varied varieties provide food with taste. Also Himachal can be divided into three major sub-regions denoting differences in topography. They are 1. Great Himalayan region 2. Middle and lower hills region 3. Shivalik foothills region. Resultantly, all the above factors combine to make Himachal a home for greater variety of birds.

As for Himachal, the Kangra valley can be placed in the top slot from this angle.

Classification of birds

Birds in Himachal Pradesh can be classified from three angles:

  1. Region
  2. Habitat
  3. Migration

This classification is both complimentary and overlapping to varied extent.

In the upper most snow laden division, birds like Monal, Kardi, Western Tragapon, Chukor, Kokila, Kalij and snow partridges etc. are found. Golden eagle and vultures are also found. Similarly, in the sub tropical region of lower Himalayas we find, black headed Kukoo of Utter Pradesh, Magpie, Babbler, Indian pitta and Flower pecker etc. Red jungle fowl, Peacock and Kolsa too are found in plenty. All these birds and pheasants migrate to and from their regions with changing seasons and climatic diversities of summer and winter months. Their migration to lower peripheral region begins in October as soon as it starts snowing in the upper reaches. They start moving up February onwards with the beginning of summer.

A similar classification of birds is called for depending upon their habitat. These are broadly.

  1. Vast thick open jungle and groves
  2. National Parks
  3. Bird Sanctuaries

The proverbial ‘Free bird’ can only be found in the open jungle in the midst of nature. They fly higher and longer, are also more alert and feed on large territories. In contrast, those in National Parks and Bird Sanctuaries are well fed, less alert and have fewer options.

Migratory Birds

Migratory birds need to be classified separately. They converge mostly at Pong Lake during winter months from Europe, Siberia and Tibet.

Birdwatching Sites

  1. Pong Lake (Maharana Pratap Sagar)

It is a man made lake on the natural course of Beas river. It is 41 km long and 19 km wide with depth ranging from 120 feet to 180 feet. The wetland or swamps around it are even more encompassing. Also, the adjoining area was declared bird sanctuary in 1983. Also, it is listed as he 25th World Ramsar site of India. The highest count of migratory birds in any year has been 1.42 lakh. Sugnara village near Nagrota Surian just 10 km from Raadballi has the maximum density of birds. This includes both migratory as well as native species.

2. Dharamshala

The upper reaches spanning from Boh-Darini, Naddi, Dharamkot, Utrala near Baijnath, Bir Biling among others are important. They have a wide range of colourful and rarely seen birds. Monal, Kardi, rare vultures and Eagles can be spotted.

  1. Pin Valley National Park, Great Himalayan National Park and Chail Wildlife Sanctuary among others could be the other attractions for an enthusiastic and probing bird watcher.

A watchword: Only the rough and tough get the best results. Hoping you are ready to face the odds.

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