Nepal is a bird watcher’s paradise, with over 800 species (almost 10% of the world’s total) of birds. And among them, almost 600 are found in the Kathmandu Valley alone. The surrounding hills offer a varied ecology ranging from primary and secondary forests to rhododendron, oak, and pine forests. In addition, the wetlands and open fields inside the Valley make up a diverse habitat for many species of birds.
The most popular bird-watching spot is Phulchoki hill, the highest peak on the Valley rim situated 20 km southeast of Kathmandu, with some 265 species recorded to date. The birds seen here include babblers, warblers, tits, thrushes, minivets, woodpeckers, eagles, and many migrant birds. Godavari, at the foot of Phulchoki hill where the Royal Botanical Garden is situated, records over 100 species of birds including the lesser Racket-tailed drongo, Tibetan siskin, and the spotted fork tail. The Shivapuri Watershed and Wildlife Reserve, situated 11 km to the north of Kathmandu, is another exciting location.
Nagarjun Royal Forest, also known as Jamacho or Rani Ban, is situated 5 km from Kathmandu on the way to Kakani from Balaju. It delights bird enthusiasts with Blue magpies, kalij pheasants, Bonelli’s eagles, Great Himalayan barbets, and other exotic birds.
Gokarna forest, 7 km to the northeast of Kathmandu, boasts the speckled Mountain thrush, orange-headed ground-thrush, brown wood owl, and the white-bellied yuhina among other colorful varieties. As for the wetlands in the Valley, the banks of the Manohara river on the way to Bhaktapur, and the Bagmati river, which flows into the Valley from Shivapuri hill and out through Chobhar Gorge, are good places for watching waders and waterfowls. Harboring 40 species of birds mostly dependent on wetlands, Taudaha, a lake on the way to Dakshinkali, attracts flocks of migrant birds.
So grab your binoculars and head for the hills. Good roads lead to all these places and guides are also available.
Bird Watching Destinations:
- Koshi Tappu
- Milke Danda
- Hange Tham