Sikkim’s exceptional biodiverse landscape supports over 22 restricted-range bird species, including at least 19 species that are endemic to the region and bird species that are not found anywhere else in the world. Its unique position on the map means that, despite its small size, Sikkim, with over 550 species, has a birdlist that is almost as diverse as that of Bhutan or Nepal.
Due to the progressive conservation policies of the government that are supported by the highly benign Buddhist religious beliefs of locals, Sikkim has a very high percentage of its land under official protection as Protected Areas (PA) or Important Bird Areas (IBA). The state provides legal protection to critical bird habitats through a network of 22 IBAs and almost an equal number of PAs.
Some key birdwatching sites worth travelling across Sikkim for are:
Rumtek Gompa and Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary are rich in birdlife with most forest species being seen here.
Tsomgo/Changu Lake (3,800m) and Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary (3,300m) can be explored by hardy birdwatchers for high-altitude Himalayan species.
South and West Sikkim
Pelling/Pemayangtse and nearby villages have several interesting birding trails worth taking.
Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary starts at about 200m and gradually rises to 3,000m at Maenam Top. This is a good site to look out for satyr tragopan, blood pheasants, rusty-bellied shortwing, among others.
Khecheopalri Lake hosts many waterfowl besides being the wintering habitat of the black-necked crane.
Places to visit include Yumthang, Lachung/Lachen, Chungthang and Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary (2,900 - 4,300m).