Southern India teems with many wilderness areas, prime locations for those who want to observe the many species that live in the region’s wetlands and forests. Bird watching today is a hobby that takes people far and wide – a reprieve from the daily grind, where it is just about you, your gear and the sounds of the jungle. Here are five of the top destinations for birding in South India.

Kabini River, Karnataka

Photo credit: Wikipedia
The wetlands and forests around the Kabini River are never silent. From the constant chatter of parakeets to the occasional hoot of a nocturnal owl, one will always hear the buzz of the forest canopy. Kabini is prime birding territory. It falls under the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest stretches of preserved forests in India. Some of the famous feathered residents here are the great black woodpecker, the great imperial pigeon and the Indian pitta. The best resorts in Kabini will offer comprehensive guided birding experiences.

Photo credit: Tour My India
Apart from leisurely houseboat rides, the Vembanad Lake is also a haven for ornithologists and amateur birders alike. The irresistible backwater setting and dramatic lighting and landscape make Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary a perfect place to set up camp. It is a favoured landing ground for migratory birds like the Siberian crane. Other species found here are different types of owls and waterfowl, egrets, herons, parrots and flycatchers.

Photo Credit: Native Planet
Ganeshgudi would feature quite high on a list of South India birdwatching tours. The region is more famous for its temple but one can also make pilgrimages to see some very rare and special avian species. The high elevation and pristine vegetation provide a very distinctive experience for trekkers and travellers. Some of the birds you can encounter here are bulbuls, warblers, the Indian yellow tit, the white bellied blue flycatcher, the brown cheeked fulvetta and many more.

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka

Photo Credit: Trip Adviser
Located in Mysore district, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary includes six small river islands on the Kaveri. Being in a popular tourist zone, it attracts many visitors, a lot of them who come specifically for the birds. In a relatively small area, more than 150 species of birds can be found. The winter months provide the most glorious sights when more than 40,000 birds converge in these wetlands.

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Photo Credit: TripAdviser
Salim Ali, India’s most famous ornithologist was a great patron of Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, a biodiversity spot that makes up for its small size with a very long list of feathered and scaled residents. The Malabar grey hornbill is one of the many exotic birds you will find here. Other birds found here include different cuckoos, cormorants, thrushes and more.
You do not have to travel great distances for bird watching holidays in South India, in fact, there are many convenient spots near Bangalore. There are many resorts in Kanakapura Road which organize nature trails and bird watching. A stay at Nandi Hills will guarantee many morning sightings too.
Birding is a hobby that crosses over to noble causes like conservation. It is also the best way to escape the daily grind. Find your next bird watching destination and plan a trip with friends and fellow enthusiasts.