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Birding at Kanha National Park in India

Updated on September 22, 2016
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Uday works as a naturalist and birding guide in India. His love for wildlife and nature encourages him to blog and write articles.

Bird Image

Spotted Owlet
Spotted Owlet | Source

Kanha National Park

Explored by the British during their rule in India, Kanha National Park received early protection. The Halon River and Banjar River Valley where declared as sanctuaries in order to conserve their rich biodiversity. These valleys contained the core forests of Kanha.

During the post independence era, Kanha was declared as a protected area. It was notified as National Park and then a tiger reserve under the Project Tiger. The park is a cauldron of incredibly diverse life forms. It is home to tigers and many other mammals, birds and insects. The floral diversity is as impressive.

Protection granted resulted in preservation of the diverse ecosystem and benefited the avifauna. The habitat variation hence supports many families of birds that are the main attraction among birding enthusiasts. Some of the sought after attractions are listed in this hub and include winter visitors and residents.

In a three day safari I have check-listed one hundred and twenty five species. About ten were during on the road birding. To maximize your listing one needs to visit some of the areas outside the reserve.

Snipe Picture

Painted Snipe
Painted Snipe | Source

Kanha Birding

Kanha is a bird haven with more than two hundred fifty species at the preserve. Many migrating species arrive here in the winter months adding to the number. But Kanha has its own star birds ,and hence bird watching continues to be interesting in the summer months as well.

The habitat comprises of Sal Belts, Mixed Forest Zones, Grasslands, River Systems and Bamboo clumps. The topography is rugged with many table top mountains, deep valleys and plains. The tiger reserve is best suited for forest and grassland birds. The wetlands are small and support fewer avian species.

Mixed forest and grasslands offer the best birding opportunity in the wildlife refuge. Look at the tree tops for the horn bills and eagles. Some of the preferred birding areas are Bhamni Dadar partially closed, Indri, Sarhi Zone, Khatia Zone and wetlands in the buffer zone with forests in neighborhood.

Bird Pictures

Pipit | Source
Sun Bird
Sun Bird | Source
Red Throated Flycatcher
Red Throated Flycatcher | Source
Gold Mantled Chloropsis
Gold Mantled Chloropsis | Source
Racket Tailed Drongo
Racket Tailed Drongo | Source
White Eyed Buzzard
White Eyed Buzzard | Source
Malabar Pied Hornbill
Malabar Pied Hornbill | Source

Bird Species

The birds of Kanha belong to many families and some are listed below:

  • Malabar Pied Hornbill
  • Indian Peafowl
  • Indian Pitta
  • Orange Headed Ground Thrush
  • Tickell's Thrush
  • White Eye
  • Common Myna
  • Pied Starling
  • Rosy Starling
  • Jungle Myna
  • Blue Winged Leaf Bird
  • Gold mantled chloropsis
  • Racket Tailed Drongo
  • Spangled Drongo
  • Ashy Drongo
  • White Bellied Drongo
  • Black Drongo
  • White Rumped Shama
  • White Naped Woodpecker
  • Yellow Crowned Wood Pecker
  • Black Rumped Flameback
  • Brown Capped Pygmy Woodpecker
  • White Browed Flycatcher
  • Brown Cheeked Fulvetta
  • Verditor Flycatcher
  • Asian Brown Flycatcher
  • Black Naped Monarch
  • Black Hooded Oriole
  • Golden Oriole
  • White Browed Bulbul
  • Common Iora
  • Asian Paradise Flycatcher
  • Red Throated Flycatcher
  • Blyth's Reed Warbler
  • Hume's Warbler
  • Greenish Warbler
  • Common Chiff Chaff
  • Blyth's Leaf Warbler
  • Western Crowned Warbler
  • Sulphur Bellied Warbler
  • Tickell's Leaf Warbler
  • Ultramarine Flycatcher
  • Brown Headed Barbet
  • Crimson Breasted Barbet
  • Painted Snipe
  • Common Snipe
  • Red Avadavat
  • Scaly Bellied Munia
  • Indian Silver Bill
  • Black Headed Munia
  • White Rumped Munia
  • White Backed Munia
  • Zitting Cisticola
  • Red Rumped Swallows
  • Wire Tailed Swallows
  • Crested Tree Swift
  • Plain Martin
  • Grey Francolin
  • Painted Francolin
  • Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
  • Magpie Robin
  • Painted Spurfowl
  • Red Spurfowl
  • Red Jungle Fowl
  • Oriental Honey Buzzard
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • White Eyed Buzzard
  • Crested Serpent Eagle
  • Eurasian Marsh Harrier
  • Crested Hawk Eagle
  • Bonelli's Eagle
  • White Rumped Vulture
  • King Vulture
  • Shikra
  • Common Kestrel
  • Spotted Dove
  • Laughing Dove
  • Barred Jungle Owlet
  • Spotted Owlet
  • Indian Scops Owl
  • Mottled Wood Owl
  • Brown Fish Owl
  • Tawny Fish Owl
  • Spot Bellied Eagle Owl
  • Yellow Fronted Green Pigeon
  • Indian Scimitar Babbler
  • Large Grey Babbler
  • Common Babbler
  • Jungle Babbler
  • Tawny Babbler
  • Puff Throated Babbler
  • Purple Sunbird
  • Long Tailed Minivet
  • Scarlet Minivet
  • Small Minivet
  • Rufous Treepie
  • Large Cuckoo Shrike
  • Common Hawk Cuckoo
  • Black Headed Cuckoo Shrike
  • Indian Cuckoo
  • Eurasian Cuckoo
  • Shirkeer Malkoha
  • Lesser Whistling Teal
  • Northern Pintail
  • Eurasian Wigeon
  • Cotton Pygmy Goose
  • Spot Billed Duck
  • Comb Duck
  • Ruddy Shelduck
  • Mallard
  • Gargeny
  • Red Crested Pochard
  • Gadwall
  • Common teal
  • Green Sand Piper
  • Marsh Sandpiper
  • Wood Sand Piper
  • Common Sand Piper
  • Common Kingfisher
  • White Throated kingfisher
  • Pied Kingfisher
  • Stork Billed Kingfisher
  • Little Stint
  • Spotted Red Shank
  • Common Red Shank
  • Common Greenshank
  • Black Winged Stilt
  • Temminck's Stint
  • Streak Throated Swallows
  • Egrets
  • Black Ibis
  • Lesser Adjutant Stork
  • Open Billed Stork
  • Black Stork
  • Woolly Necked Stork
  • Chestnut Shouldered Petronia
  • Rose Ringed Parakeet
  • Plum Headed Parakeet
  • Alexandrine Parakeet
  • Pied Kingfisher
  • White Throated Kingfisher
  • Common Stonechat
  • Pied Stonechat
  • Brown Rock Chat
  • Black Headed Ibis
  • White Ibis
  • Plain prinia
  • Grey Breasted Prinia
  • Jungle Prinia
  • Ashy Prinia
  • Common Tailor Bird
  • Yellow Eyed Babbler
  • Thick Billed flower Pecker
  • Pale Billed Flower Pecker
  • Little Cormorant
  • Great Cormorant
  • Indian Cormorant
  • Snake Bird
  • Brahminy Starling
  • Bank Myna
  • Yellow Wattled Lapwing
  • Red Wattled Lapwing
  • Eurasian Thicknee
  • Rufus Tailed Lark
  • Paddy Field Pipit
  • Long Billed Pipit
  • Red Headed Bunting
  • Black Headed Bunting
  • White Capped Bunting
  • Crested Bunting
  • Common Rosefinch
  • Baya
  • Streaked Weaver Bird
  • Black Throated Weaver
  • Olive backed Pipit
  • Tree Pipit
  • Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch
  • Velvet Fronted Nuthatch
  • Spotted Creeper
  • Grey Hornbill
  • Barn Swallow
  • Wire Tailed Swallow
  • Streak Throated Swallow
  • Chestnut Tailed Starling
  • Brown Shrike
  • Long Tailed Shrike
  • Bay Backed Shrike
  • Indian Robin
  • Grey Bushchat
  • Bar Winged Flycatcher Shrike
  • Oriental Turtledove
  • Red Turtle Dove
  • Little Ring Dove
  • Fire Capped Tit
  • Black Lored Tit
  • Great Tit
  • Siberian Rubythroat
  • Blue Throat
  • Asian Koel
  • Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark
  • Jungle Bush Quail
  • Rain Quail
  • Barred Button Quail
  • Blue Bellied Button Quail
  • Common Rock Quail
  • Tawny Pipit

There are many more birds to be found in the park. In order to increase sightings one needs to visit the neighboring buffer zone as well. Khatia Zone outside the core is one of the finest birding spots with varied species of birds to watch. The park opens on 16th October and closes on June end.

Bird Video

Avian Images

Bonelli's Eagle
Bonelli's Eagle | Source
Great Tit
Great Tit | Source
Long Tailed Minivet
Long Tailed Minivet | Source

Bird Photo

Banded Bay Cuckoo
Banded Bay Cuckoo | Source

Best Birding Habitats

In my opinion Bamni Dadar and Bija Dadar are best places to discover many targeted species. This includes painted francolin, bronze dove, Indian pitta, Malabar pied horn bill, honey buzzard, Shama and Indian Scimitar Babbler..

Indri Range is good for grass birds, storks, vultures, munias, shore dwellers near the lake and many forest birds. Kanha grasslands and Shravan Lake also offer some wintering species but not much. Another good habitat is the link number seven whence still moist.

During the early season link number seven also offers good sightings. This is a long stretch and is connected with link number eight and nine.

Outside the park you can trek hence any patch of forest or water body is good for birding. One place I prefer is Boda Chhapri Lake two km from Mochha. This is good for forest species and some waders can be seen in and around the lake. Another good venue is forest and banks along the Banjar River.

For grass birds and field birds the village agriculture fields are the best. One will come across some unique avi-fauna in these areas.

Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis Bird
Glossy Ibis Bird | Source

Bird Watching How To?

Best period for bird watching at Kanha is from November to March. In this period migrants visit the park in large numbers. Redstart, warblers, bush chats, eagle all descend from North to the park.

However summer times birding is very exciting for discovering resident and local migratory birds.This is due to greater visibility in the dry forest and gathering of avian along the waterholes.

Birding also takes place during the tiger tour at Kanha with help of expert guides. While on excursions and trekking good binoculars and guide book helps a lot. Spotting scope is not a must in dense forests but helps nevertheless. Trekking outside the Kanha National Park will add to your checklists with help of a guide from the hotel you are staying at.

Lesser Adjutant Stork

Lesser Adjutant Stork at Kanha
Lesser Adjutant Stork at Kanha | Source

Reaching Kanha

The best route is to fly from New Delhi to Jabalpur and drive to the reserve which is about 156 KM. Other option is to take an overnight train from Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkutta. Jabalpur is well connected by rail hence you can reach it from anywhere.

You can also drive down from Bandhavgarh and Pench Tiger Reserves in Central India. Small plane network is operating in MP and will eventually cover the tiger reserves from major towns in the State.

Ruddy Shelduck

Ruddy Shelduck in Kanha
Ruddy Shelduck in Kanha | Source


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Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh 481111, India
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© 2012 Uday Patel


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    • amanthkr01 profile image

      Aman Thakur 5 years ago from India

      Great information of KAnha park. Keep the good work going.

    • pateluday profile image

      Uday Patel 5 years ago from Jabalpur, MP, India


    • anusujith profile image

      Anoop Aravind A 5 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

      Hi sir good hub.

    • pateluday profile image

      Uday Patel 5 years ago from Jabalpur, MP, India

      Thanks Anusujith

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