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Birdwatcher's Paradise: Avian Wonders Of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve

by Nimisha Tewari 07 Mar 2024

Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, nestled in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh, isn't just a haven for big cats; it's also a paradise for birdwatchers. The diverse ecosystems within the reserve, including grasslands, wetlands and dense forests, attract a rich avian population. Here's a glimpse into the avian wonders that make Pilibhit a birdwatcher's delight:

  1. Sarus Crane (Antigone antigone):

    • Majestic Mates: The Sarus Crane, standing tall with its elegant long neck, is the world's tallest flying bird. Pilibhit provides a suitable habitat for these majestic cranes and spotting them in pairs during the breeding season is a common delight. 
  2. Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis):

    • Canopy Dwellers: The dense forests of Pilibhit are home to the Great Hornbill, an impressive bird with a large, curved bill and striking plumage. These canopy dwellers play a vital role in maintaining the health of the forest ecosystem. 
  3. Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus):

    • High-Flyers: Pilibhit's wetlands, including water bodies like the Sharda Sagar Reservoir, attract migratory birds like the Bar-headed Goose. Known for their remarkable high-altitude migrations, these geese add to the region's avian diversity. 
  4. Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis):

    • Riverside Residents: The Sharda River, flowing through Pilibhit, is home to the Indian Skimmer. With its unique lower mandible longer than the upper one, this bird is adapted for skimming the water's surface to catch its prey. 
  5. Brown Fish Owl (Ketupa zeylonensis):

    • Nocturnal Niche: Pilibhit's riparian habitats and wetlands provide a suitable environment for the Brown Fish Owl. This nocturnal hunter can be spotted near water bodies, waiting patiently for its aquatic prey. 
  6. White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis):

    • Conservation Concern: Pilibhit is crucial for the conservation of the White-rumped Vulture. Once facing a severe population decline due to diclofenac poisoning, efforts to mitigate this threat have been implemented to protect these vital scavengers. 
  7. Pallas's Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus):

    • Fishermen of the Skies: The Pallas's Fish Eagle is a skilled hunter over water bodies. Pilibhit's rivers and reservoirs provide an ideal habitat for these majestic eagles, where they can be seen diving to catch fish. 
  8. Indian Pitta (Pitta brachyura):

    • Colorful Songsters: Pilibhit's forests come alive with the melodious calls of the Indian Pitta. Recognized for its vibrant plumage, this ground-dwelling bird adds a burst of color to the dense foliage.  
  9. Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus):

    • Wetland Wader: The wetlands of Pilibhit host the striking Black-necked Stork, a large wading bird with distinctive black and white plumage. These storks are often seen foraging for aquatic prey in  shallow waters.      
  10. Orange-headed Thrush (Geokichla citrina):

    • Understory Dwellers: Pilibhit's forests are frequented by the Orange-headed Thrush. These understory dwellers can be spotted foraging for insects and berries in the lower layers of the forest.

Tips for Birdwatching in Pilibhit:

  • Guided Tours: Engage local guides who are familiar with the reserve's birdlife and their habitats.
  • Binoculars and Field Guide: Carry binoculars for a closer view and a field guide to identify the diverse bird species.
  • Early Mornings and Evenings: Birds are often more active during these times, making them ideal for birdwatching.

Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, with its diverse landscapes, is not only a stronghold for tigers but also a sanctuary for an incredible array of bird species. Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike can revel in the avian wonders that call Pilibhit home.

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