Nepal boasts 848 recorded species of birds. An ardent bird watcher can travel the length and breadth of Nepal doing little else but bird watching. Birding is possible everywhere in Nepal from the hot plains in the south, the Kathmandu Valley in the mid hills, to the mountainous regions of the north.
The Kathmandu Valley has four major bird watching areas, and one can start on the banks of the Bagmati and Manohra rivers. Birds sighted along these rivers are the Egrets, Herons, Kingfishers, Ibisbill, Wood Sandpipers and Plovers. The Chobar gorge is particularly recommended as an area for birds as its isolation from human habitation has encouraged their presence.
Phulchowki is another ideal site, with a Red-headed Trogon, a very rare bird sighted there in April 2000. (It was last seen in Nepal 44 years ago.) Phulchowki is 2760 metres and 18kms southeast of Kathmandu, and is reached via Godavari and the Botanical gardens. Walking can start from behind the gardens, with a combination of trails and roads. The hillside is covered with forest featuring outstanding flora as well as diverse birds. About 90 species have been recorded in this area including the endemic Spring Babbler, as well as the Cutia, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Rufous Bellied Pied Woodpeckers and the Black-throated Parrotbill, to name a few.
Two other areas of the valley are The Shivapuri National park, 12kms north of the city, and Nagarjun in the north west. Shivapuri can be reached two ways, either from Sundarijal or Budanilkantha. The reserve is managed by the Nepalese Army and it costs NRs. 250/- for foreigners to enter. (NRs. 1,000/- is charged for a movie or video camera). Some of the birds in this area are the Laughing Thrush, Crested Serpent Eagle, Little Pied Fly Catchers, Ruby – Throats, and Babblers. At Nagarjun at 2105 metres pheasants, magpies, sunbirds and ruby-throats are found. Himalayan Flameback(Dinopium shorii) is one of its glory.
Koshi Barrage and Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve are in the eastern Terai, to the far east of Nepal. The Koshi is great for waterfowl and waders, with about 26 varieties of ducks alone. Here the method of viewing is by boat, gliding through the waters in the stillness of the early morning and evenings. Over 450 species have been sighted here, including Black Ibis, Honey Kites, Ospreys, Black Headed Orioles, Peregrine Falcon, Partidges, and storks.
Chitwan is in the lowlands of Nepal, known as the Terai. The Royal Chitwan National Park is the best known site in Nepal for bird-watching. Bird watching needs to be done from the safety of a chair, the back of an elephant or in a jeep (by far the last In Pokhara, 200 kilometers west of Kathmandu, the forests around the banks of Phewa Lake and Begnas Lake are ideal for bird watching, particularly in the less inhabited areas. In winter around Phewa Lake you find egrets, herons, pipits, buntings plus gulls, terns, ducks and falcons. Begnas Lake has slopes and wet fields surrounding it, where ducks, pheasant-tailed Jacana, Happie Grey Bellied Tesias, and bulbuls are seen.
Royal Bardia National Park is covered with Sal forest and riverine forest and grassland much like Chitwan, but Bardia has the mighty Karnali river flowing by the park. Boating on the Karnali is a great way to see the birds, and one would see the Ruddy Shellduck, Oriental Pied Hornbills, Night Herons and Purple Herons, plus many more. In the higher areas of Nepal the trek routes are good for birdwatching, including the Jomson Trek, the Annapurna Recently a rare bird known as Jerdon’s Baza was sighted in Nepal. Over the past few years a conservation group has worked specifically in the Lumbini area to conserve the Sarus Crane. Wetlands have been constructed in the Lumbini area to provide refuge for Sarus Cranes and other wetland birds.
Four hundred thousand saplings have been planted in the area of the crane sanctuary. The cranes are among the world’s most endangered of birds, the world s tallest flying bird, it is thought there are fewer than 500 remaining in Nepal. In dedication to the Sarus Crane a thangka has been made called Wheel of Crane Conservation for use as educational material, with the art based on the Buddhist wheel of life philosophy.