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  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of Black-and-orange Flycatcher

    The superb Black-and-orange Flycatcher, which occurs only in Southern India, by Simon Colenutt.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in

    Photograph of Indian Pitta

    A superb image of an Indian Pitta at Thattekad by Francesco Veronesi.

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Southern India

    The lists below are for the northern winter.

    Southwest India (Western Ghats) Endemics 33
    Nilgiri Woodpigeon, Grey-fronted (Pompadour) Green-pigeon (also Palkonda Hills in southeast), Nilgiri (Mountain) Imperial-pigeon, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar (Crimson-fronted) Barbet, White-cheeked Barbet, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar (Large) Woodshrike (range extends north to near Rann of Kutch), White-bellied Treepie, Malabar Lark, Broad-tailed Grassbird, Grey-headed Bulbul, Flame-throated (Black-crested) Bulbul, Yellow-throated Bulbul (range extends across whole of Deccan Plateau), Rufous Babbler, Black-winged (Jungle) Babbler, Wayanad (Wynadd) Laughingthrush, Palani (Grey-breasted) Laughingthrush (Chilappan), Ashambu (Grey-breasted) Laughingthrush (Chilappan), Banasura (Grey-breasted) Laughingthrush (Chilappan), Nilgiri Laughingthrush (Chillappan), Malabar (Chestnut-tailed) Starling, Nilgiri (Scaly) Thrush, Nilgiri Flycatcher, White-bellied Blue-flycatcher, Nilgiri Sholakili (Blue Robin/Shortwing), White-bellied Sholakili (Blue Robin/Shortwing), Malabar Whistling-thrush (range extends to central India), Black-and-orange Flycatcher, Nilgiri (Plain) Flowerpecker, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Sahyadri (Vigors’s) Sunbird (also western Satpuras) and Nilgiri Pipit.

    Other Indian Endemics
    Grey Junglefowl, Red Spurfowl, White-spotted (Spot-breasted) Fantail, Indian (Chestnut-bellied) Nuthatch and Indian Scimitar-babbler. Also a chance of Painted Bush Quail and White-bellied Minivet.

    India and Sri Lanka 31
    Jungle Bush-quail, Painted Francolin, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Jungle Nightjar, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Indian Swiftlet, Blue-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Bay-owl, Legge’s (Mountain) Hawk-eagle, Malabar Trogon, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Orange (Scarlet) Minivet, Indian (Large) Cuckooshrike, Marshall’s Iora, White-bellied Drongo, Indian Jungle Crow (range extends to Nepal), Jerdon’s (Rufous-winged) Bushlark, Jungle Prinia (range extends to Nepal), Hill Swallow, Square-tailed (Black) Bulbul, Yellow-browed Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Dark-fronted Babbler, Yellow-billed Babbler, Southern Hill Myna, Indian Blackbird, Jerdon’s Leafbird, Loten’s Sunbird, Black-throated (Rufous-bellied) Munia and Tricoloured (Chestnut) Munia.

    Other specialities
    Spot-billed Pelican, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Indian Pitta and Indian Blue Robin.

    Indian Peafowl, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Oriental Darter, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns, Indian Pond-heron, Red-naped (Black) Ibis, Painted Stork, Brahminy Kite, Crested Serpent-eagle, Black, Bonelli’s and Tawny Eagles, Grey-headed (Purple) Swamphen, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Plum-headed Parakeet, Vernal Hanging-parrot, Jungle and Spotted Owlets, nightjars, Crested Treeswift, Brown-backed Needletail, Alpine Swift, Pied, Stork-billed and White-breasted (Smyrna) Kingfishers, Blue-bearded, Blue-tailed and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Indian Roller, Coppersmith Barbet, woodpeckers including White-bellied, Ashy Woodswallow, Small Minivet, Bay-backed Shrike, drongos, Asian Paradise-flycatcher, Asian Fairy-bluebird, Blue-throated and Tickell’s Blue-flycatchers, White-rumped Shama, Blue-capped Rock-thrush, Orange-headed Thrush, Brahminy Starling and Golden-fronted Leafbird.

    Also a chance of Grey-headed Fish-eagle, Indian Spotted Eagle, Black Baza, River Tern, Brown Fish-owl, Black-capped Kingfisher, White-naped Woodpecker, Great Hornbill and Forest Wagtail.

    Lion-tailed Macaque, various langurs, Bonnet Macaque, Grey Slender Loris, Indian Chevrotain, Gaur, Nilgiri Tahr, Chital (Spotted Deer), Sambar, Grizzled, Indian and Malabar Giant Squirrels, Indian Giant Flying Squirrel, Travancore Flying Squirrel, Stripe-necked Mongoose and Indian Flying Fox. Also a chance of Asian Elephant, Leopard (including the rare melanistic form at Nagarhole NP), Leopard and Rusty-spotted Cats, Sloth Bear, Dhole, Indian Crested Porcupine, and Oriental Small-clawed and Smooth-coated Otters, and an outside chance of Nilgiri Marten.

    Amphibians and Reptiles
    Mugger Crocodile, Southern Flying Lizard (Draco) and Malabar Gliding Frog.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Southern India

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Southern India

    The best times for birds and mammals are November and February.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Southern India

    Birds of Southern India by R Grimmett and T Inskipp. Helm, 2005.

    Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by K Kazmierczak. Helm, 2008.

    Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 1999.

    Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide Volumes 1 and 2 by P C Rasmussen and J C Anderton. Lynx Edicions and Smithsonian Institution, 2012.

    Indian Mammals: A Field Guide by V Menon. Hachette, 2014.

    Field Guide to the Mammals of the Indian Subcontinent by K K Gurung and R Singh. Helm, 1998.

    Apps etc.

    eGuide to Birds of the Indian Subcontinent.

    Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Southern India

    Many trip reports, some for Southern India, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Southern India. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Southern India' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Southern India

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders in Southern India

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Southern India

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Southern India include the following.