Bird watching is one of the most thrill-inspiring experiences for nature lovers. But with expanding human population and rapid urbanization, many bird species have become endangered.
Thankfully, the idea behind the establishment of bird sanctuaries has gone a long way in securing the future of numerous bird species around the world. These sanctuaries allow both migratory and endemic birds to breed and live happily without the threat of human invasion. The following are some of the world’s largest bird sanctuaries worth checking out;
1. Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary
Location: The Gurgaon District of Haryana, India
Area Covered: 142.5 hectares
Bird Species Available: 100
Best Time to Visit: October to February, 11:00 am to 6:30 pm (closed on Tuesdays)
The Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary in Haryana, India, is one of the world’s best places to feast your eyes on both domestic and migratory birds. Sultanpur plays home to birds from various regions around Asia, from Central Asia to Siberia, and even as far as Europe. The sanctuary has four major watchtowers, which offer unhindered views of the resident birds as well as the park’s lush greenery. In addition to birds, different plant species thrive here too. The vegetation is mostly tropical and dry deciduous.
2. Bharatpur Sanctuary
Location: Rajasthan, India
Area Covered: 2900 hectares
Bird Species Available: 350
Best Time to Visit: August to November and October to March, 6:00 am to 6:00 pm during summer and 6:30 am to 5:00 pm during winter
Bharatpur is another preeminent bird sanctuary in India, and one of the largest on the planet. The sanctuary was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Also known as Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur Sanctuary offers a habitat to over 350 indigenous aquatic and migratory birds. Many of the world’s rare and endangered bird species seek refuge here during winter. Bharatpur’s cherry on the cake is an additional 30 mammal species that also thrive in and around the park.
3. Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Area Covered: 60 hectares
Bird Species Available: 200
Best Time to Visit: All year round, from early morning to early afternoon
Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is the largest bird sanctuary in Malaysia, and one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. Every year, more than 200,000 tourists troop to this park for a scintillating bird watching experience. 90% of the birds here are indigenous, with only 10% imported from other countries like Australia, the Netherlands, Indonesia, China, and Thailand. The sanctuary is strategically nestled near other points of interest, including the Royal Malaysian Police Museum and the National Mosque.
4. Harry Gibbons Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Location: Kivalliq Region, Nunavut, Canada
Area Covered: 122,400 hectares
Bird Species Available: Unknown
Best Time to Visit: August to October, preferably from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Harry Gibbons Migratory Bird Sanctuary is arguably the largest bird sanctuary in the Americas. It’s also one of the oldest bird parks in the world, having been established on January 1, 1959. As the name implies, Harry Gibbons is mostly a migratory bird sanctuary. Which makes it a bit difficult to estimate the number of species within the park at a given time of the year. However, the park is distinguished by its numerous nesting sites and can support a nesting population of over half a million snow geese.
5. Jurong Bird Park
Location: Jurong, Singapore
Area Covered: 20 hectares
Bird Species Available: 500
Best Time to Visit: All year round, from early morning to mid-afternoon
Jurong Bird Park sits on the western slopes of Jurong Hill, which is considered the highest point in the Jurong region. The park’s location allows you to gorge your eyes on the sweeping beauty of adjacent landscapes. The park features enormous walk-in aviaries, as well as exciting bird shows and feeding exhibitions. It’s one of the most family-oriented bird sanctuaries on this list, thanks to its numerous avian-themed play areas and buffet lunch programs. What’s more – bird feeding is also legal here.
6. Salim Ali Sanctuary
Location: Goa, India
Area Covered: 169 hectares
Bird Species Available: 473
Best Time to Visit: November to February, 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is an estuarine-mangrove swamp located along River Mandovi in Goa, India. The sanctuary boasts over 470 bird species, most of which are coastal birds. In addition to its diverse collection of birds, the estuarine-mangrove swamps of Salim Ali also host other wildlife, including crocodiles, jackals, flying foxes, etc. The location of this bird sanctuary in a serene rural-like environment makes it perfect for tourists looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Numerous hiking trails pave the sanctuary, allowing you to explore various regions within the park.
7. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Location: Kerala, India
Area Covered: 14 hectares
Bird Species Available: 300
Best Time to Visit: June to August and November to May, 6:30 am to 5:00 pm
Located along the banks of River Vembanad in Kerala, India is the majestic Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to more than 300 bird species, including waterfowls, flycatchers, Siberian cranes, larks, to mention but a few. Like Salim Ali, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is also complete with well-maintained trails that allow you to experience the enchanting beauty of other plant and animal species within the park. Also, there’s a watchtower for those who wish to experience the matchless beauty of this park from a vantage point.
8. Weltvogelpark Walsrode Bird Sanctuary
Location: Walsrode, Germany
Area Covered: 24 hectares
Bird Species Available: 675
Best Time to Visit: May to September, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Tucked away in the middle of Lüneburg Heath in North Germany, Weltvogelpark Walsrode is one of the world’s largest bird sanctuaries in terms of species. One outstanding thing about the park is that you can interact with the birds freely as there are no artificial barriers. Also, there’s a variety of flight exhibitions on the open-air stage where different bird species, including eagles, falcons, pelicans, parrots, are displayed. Additional features include feeding demonstrations as well as young bird rearing stations which are particularly ideal for children.
9. Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary
Location: Senegal River, Senegal
Area Covered: 16,000 hectares
Bird Species Available: 400
Best Time to Visit: November to May, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
If your bird watching adventures ever take you to Africa, you might want to begin your trip at the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary is located along the southeastern banks of the Senegal River in Senegal and is a habitat for over 400 bird species, most of which routinely migrate across the vast Sahara Desert. Flamingoes, pelicans, and aquatic warblers are some of the sanctuary’s highlights. Besides its rich diversity of birds, Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including crocodiles and manatees.
10. Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary
Location: Bac Lieu, Vietnam
Area Covered: 107 hectares
Bird Species Available: 46
Best Time to Visit: October to early December, from early morning to sunset
Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary hosts a total of 46 bird species, which may sound considerably fewer to warrant a trip to this park. But before you reconsider your decision to visit Bac Lieu, it would interest you to note that the 46 species translate to over 40,000 birds and 50,000 nests. And in addition to bird watching, a visit to Bac Lieu is also an opportunity to sight numerous other wildlife. The park teems with 10 different mammal species, 60 fish species, 8 reptile species, 7 frog species, and over 100 different plant species.
Bird watching is both a fun-filled and learning experience. When choosing a perfect bird sanctuary, insist on a park that allows visitors to interact with the birds seamlessly. Also, choose a park where the majority of resident birds are indigenous as opposed to migratory. That way, you can visit the sanctuary any time of the year without wondering whether you’ll be able to find the birds there or not.