The Winter Migratory Birds of Kanha: A Winged Spectacle in the Heart of India

Nestled within the expansive landscape of the Central Indian highlands, where sprawling meadows blend harmoniously with dense Sal forests, the Kanha Tiger Reserve emerges as a symbol of unwavering commitment to wildlife conservation.
While this iconic sanctuary has earned global recognition for its majestic tigers and the unique Hard- ground Swamp Deer, known as the barasingha, it also unveils another captivating spectacle with the arrival of winter: the migratory birds.

As the cold season descends upon Kanha, a vibrant avian world takes flight, adding yet another layer of enchantment to this remarkable ecosystem.
Rufous-bellied Eagle
Rufous-bellied Eagle, Photo credit: Ratik
Verditer Flycatcher
Verditer Flycatcher, Photo credit: Ratik
As temperatures take a dip in the Northern Hemisphere, the Kanha Tiger Reserve undergoes a fascinating transformation into a sanctuary for an array of migratory birds. Like clockwork, the skies above the reserve burst into life, adorned with a symphony of vibrant colors and melodious tunes. From the enchanting calls of the Ultramarine Flycatcher to the striking blues of the Verditer Flycatcher, these seasonal visitors bring a unique allure to the winter landscape of the park.
These avian guests embark on an extraordinary odyssey, spanning thousands of miles as they traverse treacherous terrains and overcome formidable barriers. Many of them make their way from the trans-Himalayan region, Central Asia, and even Europe. For instance, the Northern Pintail and Eurasian Wryneck journey from Northern Europe to grace Kanha with their presence. Meanwhile, the exquisite Amur Falcon undertakes an awe-inspiring migration from southeastern Siberia and northern China, utilizing the Indian subcontinent as a crucial pit-stop in its remarkable journey to Africa. This annual avian migration spectacle adds an enchanting layer to the tapestry of Kanha’s natural wonders, where the wild world converges in harmonious splendor.
Black Stork
Black Stork, Photo Credit: Ratik
Taiga Flycatcher
Taiga Flycatcher, Photo Credit: Urjit Singh
For avid birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts, the optimal time to partake in this avian spectacle at Kanha unfolds between late October and early March. During this period, the park’s water bodies become a bustling haven for a diverse array of waterfowl, waders, and other wetland birds. Along the tranquil shores of the park’s numerous lakes and ponds, a world of splendid sightings awaits. Among the treasures that can be glimpsed are the elusive Jack Snipe, the elegant Common Greenshank, the delicate Wood Sandpiper, the majestic Greylag Geese, and a host of other feathered wonders. This seasonal congregation of avian wonders paints a picturesque portrait of nature’s beauty against the backdrop of Kanha’s serene landscape.
However, this spectacle isn’t solely about spotting and identifying these birds; it’s about understanding the intricate web of life that connects ecosystems across continents. These migratory birds serve as a poignant reminder of the delicate balance that characterizes our natural world and underscores the significance of preserving habitats.
Our responsibility extends beyond safeguarding the homes of resident species; it encompasses ensuring the well-being of these seasonal visitors who journey thousands of miles to find refuge in our protected spaces. In their journey, we find a compelling narrative of nature’s resilience and its reliance on the interconnectedness of all life forms.

So, if you haven’t already, pack those binoculars and make your way to Kanha this winter. The avian wonders await, ready to enchant you with their tales from distant lands.
Rudy Shelduck
Rudy Shelduck, Photo Credit: Ratik
So, if you haven’t already, pack those binoculars and make your way to Kanha this winter. The avian wonders await, ready to enchant you with their tales from distant lands.
Highlight species:
  • Rufous-bellied Eagle [ Lophotriorchis kienerii ]
  • Amur Falcon [ Falco amurensis ]
  • Peregrine Falcon [ Falco peregrinus ]
  • Jack Snipe [ Lymnocryptes minimus ]
  • Verditer Flycatcher [ Eumyias thalassinus]
  • Ultramarine Flycatcher [ Ficedula superciliaris ]
  • Siberian Rubythroat [ Luscinia calliope ]
  • Northern Pintal [ Anas acuta ]
  • Common Pochard [ Aythya ferina ]
  • Gadwall [ Anas strepera ]
  • Common Snipe [ Lophotriorchis kienerii ]
  • Common Sandpiper [ Gallinago Gallinago ]
  • Griffon Vulture [ Gyps fulvus ]
  • Greenish Warbler [ Phylloscopus trochiloides ]
  • Sulphur-bellied Warbler [ Phylloscopus griseolus ]
  • Eurasian Wryneck [ Jynx torquilla ]
  • Black Stork [ Ciconia nigra ]
  • Taiga Flycatcher [ Ficedula albicilla ]
Written by – SJL Naturalist Team
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