Bird Watching Tour

Within country’s borders there are an extraordinary range of habitats, from some of the Himalaya’s most extensive and least disturbed tropical forests to cool broad leaved and towering evergreen forests of fir, hemlock and spruce. Birding in the untouched, primeval forests of Bhutan is a unique experience. Despite its small size about 770 species of birds have been recorded in Bhutan and the kingdom is recognized as 221 global endemic birds areas. As the landmass of Bhutan rises from 200 meters above sea level to more than 7500 meters within an aerial distance of 90 kilometers, the country is rich in flora and fauna.

The Buddhist culture, which respects all forms of life, has resulted in an avifauna that is not only marvelously diverse, but also remarkably visible and approachable. Some of the species you will encounter include the incomparably beautiful Wards Tragon, the endangered Rufous-necked Hornbill, all three of the little known Spelacornis‘ babblers, Satyr Tragopan, the unknown Beautiful Nuthatch, glowing sunbirds, dapper grosbeaks, rosefinches, fabulous Ibisbill, Fire-tailed Myzornis, the famed Black necked cranes and a plethora of other gorgeous and little known Himalayan species.

Unlike many part of Asia, one is not obliged to seek out a park or reserve or remnant patch of ‘good looking’ habitat, since at any stop even in the midst of farmland, exciting birds are visible. The mixed broad leaf forests are much richer, and therefore more exciting for birding, than the rather slow growing mono typic stands of blue pine and particularly chir pine.

Suitable time for bird watching is from mid March to April end.

Some of the Birding Sites

At paro the following birds are found in March – April: Ibis bill Pied Wagtail, White-capped River Chat, Blue Whistling-thrush, Blue-fronted redstarts, Plumbeous Redstarts, Oriental Turtle-dove, Crested Goshawk, Eurasian Kestrel, Kalij Pheasant, Brown Dipper, White-collared Blackbird, Long-tailed and Grey-backed shrikes, Spotted Laughing thrush Indian Blue Chats, Black neck cranes (sighted in 2003 in the month of February), etc. A drive to Chelila Pass (4200 meters) provides an opportunity to ascend above tree line into alpine meadows and dwarf rhododendrons and possibility of several birds such as Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasants, Collared Grosbeaks, Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeier, Kalij Pheasant, Spotted Laughing thrush, Rosy Pipit, Blue-fronted Redstart, Rofous-breasted Accentor, White-browed Rosefinches, etc. On the lower slopes you may encounter Phylloscopous leaf warblers, mixed flocks of tits, Great Parrotbill, etc
Though, a bustling town, there are places where birds can be watched. The Thimphu valley is surrounded by temperate evergreen forests with lots of blue pines. There is also an aviary for Pheasants and a small zoo where you find the Taikin (the national animal of Bhutan). The following birds are found in Thimphu valley, which lies between Cheri in the north and Chunzom in the south: Ibisbill, Crested Pied Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied woodpeckers, Hoopoe, Nepal House Martin, Long-tailed Minivet, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Spotted Nutcracker, Red-billed Chough, Black-browed and Grey-crested tits, Striated and Black-faced laughingthrushes, Chestnut-bellied Rock-thrush, Mrs. Goulds Sun bird, White-tailed Nuthatch, Black-capped Sibia, Common Merganzer, Crested Serpent-eagle, Black eagle, etc.
The following birds can be watched en-route to Punakha and Punakha valley: Satyr Tragopan, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Mrs Goulds, Fire-tailed and Green-tailed sun birds, Lemon-rumped Leaf-warblers, Blue-bellied Flower peckers, Green Shrike-babblers, Olive-backed Pipits, Gold-billed Magpies, Plain backed Thrush, Red Cross bills, Common Hill Partridges, etc on the higher slopes. At lower elevations, Mountain Hawk-eagle, Northern Treecreeper, Slender-billed Scimitar-babbler, Golden Bush-robin, Fire-capped Tit, Little and Slatty-backed forktails, Gold-napped Finch, etc.
Birding along Mochu to Tashithang to north of Punakha lies Tashithang. This valley follows the Mo Chu river. You can find a number of waterfowl. Some of the species found here are: White-bellied Heron (rare and difficult), Tawny Fish Owl, River Lapwing, Red-headed Trogon, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Striated Bulbul, Little Niltava, all three tesias, Pygmy Blue Flycatcher, Pygmy Wren-Babbler, Rufous-chinned Laughing thrush, Red-faced Liocichla, Scarlet Finch, Spotted Wren-Babbler, Ibisbill, Bar-headed Geese, Great-headed Gulls, etc. In 1994 the first Baers Pochard was also sighted.
The avifauna you encounter include the following: Blood Pheasants, Kalij Pheasants, Satyr Tragopan, Spotted Forktail, Black-throated and Brown Parrotbills, Gold-napped finch, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Crested Kingfisher, Brown Dippers, White-capped Water Redstarts, Yellow billed Blue Magpie, etc
Lower down the valley of the Mangdechhu towards Zhemgang, the species found are: Yellow-rumped Honey guide, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Himalayan Swiftlet, Fork-tailed Swifts, Crimson-breasted and Darjeeling Woodpeckers, Striated Bulbul, Spotted Bush-Warbler, Red-billed Leiothrix, Long-tailed Minivets, Little Pied Fly catchers, Scaly Thrushes, Little and Spotted Fork tails, Blue-bearded Bee-eaters, Purple Cochoa, Spot-winged Starling, Great Horn bills Pin-tailed Green Pigeons, etc