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Bharatpur Keoladeo National Park - BirdForum Opus


A quintessential winter day
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India. January 2013


Sarus : Courtship Display
Conservation : Threatened / Resident Breeder
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, India, July 2016
Long-billed or Indian Vulture : Immature
Conservation : Critically Endangered
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, India, June 2013

Officially known as Keoladeo National Park, but better known simply as Bharatpur (actually the adjacent town) this is one of the best and certainly one of the most popular birding sites in India. The park is largely artificial, a former hunting reserve of the Maharajas of Bharatpur, and consists of lakes and marshes surrounded by woodland, grassland and scrub.

Rajasthan is largely desert but the monsoon brings heavy rains. About a quarter of the park's 12 square miles normally becomes flooded.

Thanks to the Maharaja, you can walk or cycle along several dikes which give excellent views of the thousands of ducks, geese, storks, herons, waders and other waterbirds.


Notable Species

Black-necked Stork : Courting Pair
Conservation : Near Threatened / Resident Breeder
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, India, Dec 2014
Migratory Waterfowl : four species in this image
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, India, Jan 2014

The park was famous as the most accessible site for Siberian White Crane which formerly wintered in small numbers. Unfortunately this species has not appeared since the winter of 2002-2003, although Sarus Crane, Common Crane and Demoiselle Crane do occur. It is possible to see nearly 200 species in a single day here and more than 400 species have been recorded in all.

Equally impressive are the commoner Black-necked Storks, and there are plenty of Painted Storks and Sarus Cranes with their strange trumpeting calls.

Waterfowl include birds that can be seen in Britain such as Wigeon and Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Ferruginous Duck and Red-crested Pochard as well as several not seen wild at home such as Cotton Teal, Indian Spot-billed Duck and Bar-headed Goose. These geese are surprisingly approachable and it is easy to see the two lateral black bars on their white heads.

Large numbers of storks, herons and ibises breed and waterfowl winter in large numbers including Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Marbled Duck and Ferruginous Duck. Breeding waterfowl include Knob-billed Duck and Indian Spot-billed Duck. Other waterbirds to be seen here include Bronze-winged Jacana and Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Grey-headed Swamphen and White-breasted Waterhen, pelicans and flamingos.

More than 25 species of raptor are possible here with Pallas's Fish Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle and Short-toed Eagle and Steppe Eagle present all year and Eastern Imperial Eagle and both spotted eagles in winter. Other raptors include harriers, vultures and kites and several species of owl including Indian Eagle-Owl and Dusky Eagle-Owl, Mottled Wood Owl, Spotted Owlet and Collared Scops Owl. Among the many colourful birds to be seen are Green Pigeon and Red Turtle Dove, Ring-necked Parakeet, kingfishers, bee-eaters, rollers and barbets.

Other birds easily seen include Citrine Wagtail, Purple Heron, Great Egret, Spoonbill, Marsh Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint (with Little Stints for comparison), Black-winged Stilt, Hoopoe, Mahrattan Woodpecker and Red-breasted Flycatcher. From this list -- a tiny proportion of the more than 350 species known to have occurred in the park -- it will be seen that there are birds of varied habitats. In fact, there are areas of woodland, near desert and various intermediate types of vegetation as well as the wetlands.

The drier areas produce views of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Red Turtle-dove, Indian Roller, Yellow-throated Sparrow, Isabelline Wheatear and Indian Courser. The wooded areas are rich in birds including the striking blue Verditer Flycatcher, Common Woodshrike, Small Minivet, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Yellow-legged Green Pigeon and Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker.

Rickshaw drivers can be helpful at locating birds but misleading as to their identity. Asian Green Bee-eaters often perch in obligingly obvious positions and Indian and Magpie-Robins are frequently in view. Olive-backed pipits can be seen feeding on the ground.

Apart from those already mentioned, other note-worthy waterbirds include Oriental Darter, Glossy Ibis, Black-crowned Night Heron, Great White Pelican, Intermediate Egret, Grey-headed Swamphen, Pheasant-tailed Jacana (or Lily-trotter) and Bronze-winged Jacana, White-tailed Lapwing as well as Black-bellied Tern and River Terns.


Scavengers on a carcass
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, India, June-2017

Birds you can see here include:

Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Great White Pelican, Spot-billed Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Great Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Indian Shag, Oriental Darter, Great Bittern, Yellow Bittern, Cinnamon Bittern, Black Bittern, Indian Pond Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Eastern Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, White Stork, Asian Woolly-necked Stork, Asian Open-bill Stork, Black-necked Stork, Painted Stork, Greater Adjutant Stork, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Black Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Whistling Duck, Greylag Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Common Shelduck, American Wigeon, Common Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Falcated Duck, Indian Spot-billed Duck, Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, Cotton Pygmy-Goose, Knob-billed Duck, Osprey, Crested Honey-Buzzard, Black-shouldered Kite, Brahminy Kite, Black Kite, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Pallas's Fish Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Hen Harrier, Pied Harrier, Indian Griffon Vulture, Asian White-backed Vulture, Indian King Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Crested Serpent Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, White-eyed Buzzard, Eurasian Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Shikra, Besra Sparrowhawk, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Buzzard, Greater Spotted Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Booted Eagle, Northern Hobby, Oriental Hobby, Common Kestrel, Laggar Falcon, Saker Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Black Francolin, Grey Francolin, Common Quail, Black-breasted Quail, Jungle Bush Quail, Blue Peafowl, Common Bustard-Quail, Common Crane, Sarus Crane, Siberian White Crane, Demoiselle Crane, Water Rail, Baillon's Crake, Spotted Crake, Ruddy Crake, Common Moorhen, Brown Crake, White-breasted Waterhen, Watercock, Grey-headed Swamphen, Eurasian Coot, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Bronze-winged Jacana, Greater Painted-Snipe, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Stone-curlew, Indian Courser, Collared Pratincole, Small Indian Pratincole, Northern Lapwing, Sociable Lapwing, Spur-winged Lapwing, Grey-headed Lapwing, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Red-wattled Lapwing, White-tailed Lapwing, Kentish Plover, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Tibetan Sand Plover, Grey Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Pintail Snipe, Common Snipe, Jack Snipe, Red Knot, Little Stint, Temminck's Stint, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Ruff, Red-necked Phalarope, Great Black-headed Gull, Brown-headed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Black-bellied Tern, Indian River Tern, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, Indian Skimmer, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Eastern Stock Dove, Yellow-legged Green Pigeon, Oriental Turtle Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Spotted Dove, Red Turtle Dove, Laughing Dove, Ring-necked Parakeet, Sirkeer Cuckoo, Jacobin Cuckoo, Common Hawk-Cuckoo, Plaintive Cuckoo, Asian Koel, Common Coucal, Eurasian Scops Owl, Collared Scops-Owl, Indian Eagle-Owl, Dusky Eagle-Owl, Brown Fish-Owl, Mottled Wood-Owl, Spotted Owlet, Brown Hawk-Owl, Short-eared Owl, Syke's Nightjar, Large-tailed Nightjar, Franklin's Nightjar, Indian Nightjar, Alpine Swift, House Swift, Asian Palm-Swift, Small Green Barbet, Coppersmith Barbet, Indian Grey Hornbill, Pied Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Black-capped Kingfisher, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Asian Green Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Eurasian Roller, Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Wryneck, Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Black-rumped Flameback, Indian Pitta, Red-winged Bush Lark, Ashy-crowned Finch-Lark, Rufous-tailed Lark, Bimaculated Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Indian Sand Lark, Crested Lark, Sykes' Crested Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Small Skylark, Sand Martin, Grey-throated Martin, Barn Swallow, Striated Swallow, Wire-tailed Swallow, Indian Cliff Swallow, Dusky Crag Martin, Olive-backed Pipit, Tree Pipit, Indian Tree Pipit, Water Pipit, Richard's Pipit, Paddyfield Pipit, Long-billed Pipit, Tawny Pipit, Blyth's Pipit, Forest Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Large Pied Wagtail, Common Iora, Marshall's Iora, Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrike, Scarlet Minivet, Short-billed Minivet, Small Minivet, White-bellied Minivet, Common Woodshrike, Red-whiskered Bulbul, White-cheeked Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Isabelline Shrike, Brown Shrike, Rufous-backed Shrike, Bay-backed Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, Siberian Rubythroat, Bluethroat, Oriental Magpie Robin, Black Redstart, Brown Rock Chat, Collared Bush Chat, Pied Bush Chat, Isabelline Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Indian Robin, Blue-headed Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Orange-headed Ground Thrush, Tickell's Thrush, Grey-winged Blackbird, Black-throated Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Gold-capped Cisticola, Zitting Cisticola, Lanceolated Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Thick-billed Warbler, Blunt-winged Warbler, Paddyfield Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Sykes' Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Desert Lesser Whitethroat, Orphean Warbler, Rufous-fronted Prinia, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Ashy Prinia, Long-tailed Tailorbird, Common Chiffchaff, Tytler's Leaf Warbler, Tickell's Willow Warbler, Grant's Willow Warbler, Brooks' Leaf Warbler, Radde's Warbler, Sulphur-bellied Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Pallas's Leaf Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Large Crowned Leaf Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Verditer Flycatcher, White-browed Blue Flycatcher, Blue-throated Flycatcher, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, White-browed Fantail, Yellow-eyed Babbler, Common Babbler, Large Grey Babbler, Jungle Babbler, Grey Tit, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Indian Spotted Creeper, Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Tickell's Flowerpecker, Purple Sunbird, Indian White-eye, Reed Bunting, White-capped Bunting, Black-headed Bunting, Red-headed Bunting, Crested Bunting, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Yellow-throated Sparrow, Red Avadavat, White-throated Munia, White-backed Munia, Spotted Munia, Tricolored Munia, Common Rosefinch, Black Drongo, White-bellied Drongo, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Black-headed Oriole, Rose-coloured Starling, Common Starling, Brahminy Mynah, Indian Pied Starling, Common Mynah, Bank Mynah, Rufous Treepie, House Crow, Jungle Crow

Sunsets at Keoladeo are stunning on a clear winter day
Indian Spotted Eagle in silhoutte
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, India, Jan-2016


Here's a sound file, uncut and real-time, recorded in April-2012, just before the daybreak. One can hear the calls / songs of Oriental Magpie Robin, Rufous Treepie, White-cheeked Bulbul, Common Tailorbird, Spotted Owlet, Purple Sunbird, Grey Francolin, Indian Peafowl, Laughing Dove, Indian Robin, Red-vented Bulbul and Western Koel:

Recording © by Alok Tewari

Other Wildlife

Mammals include Rhesus Macaque, Wild Boar, Nilgai and Blackbuck, Chital aka Axis Deer, Jungle Cat, Fishing Cat, Golden Jackal, Indian Hare and Indian Smooth-coated Otter. Indian Python and Indian Softshell Turtle are among the many reptiles.

Site Information

Tourist Guide-map
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, India, March-2019

History and Use

The Maharaja of Bharatpur, at the end of the last century was a keen wildfowler. Much as today's birders may disapprove, we can benefit from his enthusiasm. For his efforts led to the creation of one of the world's finest bird sanctuaries -- the Keoladeo National Park in the Indian State of Rajasthan.

Areas of Interest

Wonderful place to view, study and observe :

  • Migratory waterfowl and passerine birds during winter
  • Sarus Crane, Black-necked Stork and other endangered / threatened species.
  • Behavior of resident birds during summer.
  • Asian Golden Jackal, Indian Rock Python and Monitor Lizard.

Access and Facilities

This small (under 30km2) park is situated close to the town of Bharatpur which lies 50km west of Agra. Bicycles can be hired in Bharatpur and are an ideal way to explore this park.
Guides, Rickshaw-guides and Horse pulled tongas can be hired at the Park entrance.
Lodge accommodation is available within and close to the park.

Bharatpur is within easy distance of the three 'Golden Triangle' tourist spots of New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and there is a good hotel attached to the reserve -- cheap by international standards. It is worth remembering that deserts are cold at night and a heavy sweater is essential. In fact, the mornings were misty until the sun was well up.

Contact Details

Keoladeo National Park
Bharatpur, Rajasthan
PIN : 302001
Office Phone No. 05644 222 777


Click images to see larger version

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.

Content and images originally posted by Steve