Four Must-Visit Bird Sanctuaries During Winter

Four Must-Visit Bird Sanctuaries During Winter
A flock of migratory seagulls at the Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary. Credit: / Swapan Banik

Meet the winged fauna of our country at these four exclusive bird sanctuaries

Pranay Jain
December 30 , 2022
04 Min Read

Winter is a time to rejoice for birding enthusiasts as migratory birds fly in from the cold and into subtropical India, by the millions, between October and April and add to the resident bird populations of the bird sanctuaries. When visiting the sanctuaries, ensure you follow the rules of the park, keep a pair of binoculars, and a camera handy, with the flash switched off, and speak softly or not at all. Communication networks are bound to be patchy; keep your phone safely tucked away. There is an entry fee at all sanctuaries; some may even charge for carrying in cameras, etc.

Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat 


A serene marshland with four-five-foot-deep shallow waters, 36 tiny islands, the Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, protected since 1969, and a Ramsar Conservation site since 2012, is spread over 120.82 square kilometres. More than 200 species of birds are found here, from rosy pelicans, lesser and greater flamingos, crakes, Brahminy ducks, purple moorhen, herons, white storks, various species of bitterns, and grebes, etc. The locals adhere to the stringent cleanliness policy, and the waters are clear enough to spot the Vallisneria spiralis L. plant, locally known as sheval, at the bottom of the lake.

Best season to visit: November to March

Timings: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., on all days. 

How to get there: Nalsarovar, near Sanand Village, is about 60 km from Ahmedabad.

For more information, check here 

Karnala Bird Sanctuary, Maharashtra

Spread over 12 square kilometres, the Karnala Bird Sanctuary lies on the old Mumbai-Goa Highway. The sanctuary is a densely forested area and ideal for not only bird-watching but also trekking, hiking, and picnicking. Karnala is home to many migratory birds, such as the red-breasted flycatcher, black-headed cuckoo, blue-headed rock thrush, and the ashy minivet. 

Best season to visit: September to March

Timings: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., on all days. 

How to get there: Mumbai is around 50 km from the sanctuary.

For more information, check here

Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Goa

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Spread over 1.8 square kilometres of mangrove scrub of the Mandovi river, and is the smallest wildlife sanctuary of Goa. Located on Charoa island, it is a haven for a variety of migratory birds. From the long-legged striated heron, western reef heron, and wading little bittern, to the red knot, jack snipe, large black and white pied avocet, etc., along with resident non-avian fauna such as jackal, python, marsh crocodile, and fiddler crab. Use the three-storeyed watchtower to view the birds at various canopy levels.

Permit: It is mandatory to receive permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden of the Forest Department, Junta House, Panaji.

Best season to visit: Winter.

Timings: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., on all days. 

How to get there: Panaji is about 5 km from the sanctuary. You will need to take a ferry from either Pomburpa or Ribander in north Goa.

For more information, check here  

Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

This wetland of 4.58 square kilometres is mainly for migratory water birds, and the farmers of Nelapattu have a symbiotic relationship with them. The bird guano, or waste matter, acts as a natural fertilizer for the crops, and the villagers, in turn, protect the birds. The sanctuary is the largest breeding ground for the Grey pelicans in South East Asia.

Best season to visit: October to March.

Timings: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on all days. 

How to get there: Nellore City is about 82 km from the sanctuary.

For more information, check here

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