The Indian Government took effective initiatives to conserve wildlife in the country and established the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, which prohibits trade of rare and endangered species.  This occurred one year before the United States of America passed their Endangered Species Act of 1973.  

Wildlife conservation in India has been going on for a long time.  India has over 120 national parks, 515 wildlife sanctuaries, 26 wetlands, and 18 Bio-Reserves, out of which 10 are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.


One of the most successful wildlife conservation ventures 'Project Tiger' which was initiated way back in 1972, has not only contributed to the conservation of tigers but also of the entire ecosystem. This project is sponsored by Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change. About 47 tiger reserves situated in more than 17 regions including Corbett National Park and Ranthambore National Park are part of this project which conducts assessments of number of tigers, their habitat, hunting habits under the supervision of the Tiger Task Force. Project Tiger has seen significant success in recovery of the habitat and increase in the population of the tigers in the reserve areas, from a scanty 268 in 9 reserves in 1972 to above 1000 in 28 reserves in 2006 to 2000+ tigers in 2016.

Project Elephant- Initiated in 1992 by the Government of India Project Elephant aims at conserving elephants and their habitat and of migratory routes by developing scientific and planned management measures. Under the project welfare of the domestic elephants is also considered, issues like mitigation of human-elephant conflict are also taken care of. The project’s endeavour is to strengthen the measures for protection of elephants against poachers and unnatural death.

Seven Endangered Species in India

  • The Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros- <200 in early 20th century; 2016- 2575; >3500 now; status endangered
  • The Nilgiri tahr- <100 in early 20th century; 3122 now; status- endangered
  • The Bengal tiger- status- 1400 in 2002; 1800 in 2010; 2200 in 2014; status-endangered
  • Asiatic lion- 180 in 1960s; >600 now, status- endangered
  • Blackbucks- 25,000 in 19702; > 50,000 now; status- least concern
  • Lion Tailed Macaque- 3500; status- endangered
  • Snow leopard- <10,000; status- vulnerable



Menon, V. (2014) Indian Mammals: A Field Guide. Gurgagon, India: Hacgette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd

International Rhino Foundation (IRF) abd Indian Rhino Conservation

Launched in 2005, Indian Rhino Vision 2020 is an ambitious effort to attain a wild population of at least 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos spread over seven protected areas in the Indian state of Assam by the year 2020.  Greater one-horned, or Indian, rhinoceros once roamed from Pakistan to the Indo-Burmese border, and in parts of Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. But by the beginning of the 20th century, hunting and habitat loss had reduced the species to fewer than 200 individuals in northern India and Nepal. Thanks to strict protection implemented by Indian and Nepalese authorities, the population has rebounded to more than 3,550 today.  Despite these successes, however, Indian rhinos are still threatened by poaching and habitat loss.  Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India, holds about 70% of the world population. This is worrisome for two reasons – the park may have reached its carrying capacity and might not be able to support any more rhinos; and the entire species’ population could decimated because by a disease outbreak, natural disaster, or another acute threat.  IRF has partnered with the Assam Forest Department, the Bodoland Territorial Council, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the US Fish & Wildlife Service to address the threats facing Indian rhinos.  We are moving rhinos from overcrowded areas, like Kaziranga National Park and Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary, to other protected areas where they can breed. Along with continuing strict protection and community engagement, spreading Indian rhinos out among more protected areas will create a larger, safer and more stable population.  Rhino translocations began in April 2008, and over the next 4 years, IRV 2020 moved 18 Indian rhinos from Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary and Kaziranga National Park to Manas National Park (a protected area and UNESCO World Heritage site that had previously been home to a large rhino population before the poaching crisis). An additional eight rhinos were moved to Manas by the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation.  In mid-2012, one of the females gave birth to the first calf born in Manas since rhino reintroductions began! Eleven more rhinos calves have been born in the park since then – a sure sign that the translocated animals are adapting well to their new home. Since that time, 14 calves have been born in the park.  Unfortunately, this population has also been touched by poaching – part of a region-wide increase in poaching beginning in 2012-2013. After losing eight animals, IRV 2020 halted rhino translocations to Manas in 2013 to focus on improving security. Training in new patrolling methods, along with the support of new park leadership, has made a big difference – only one rhino was lost to poaching in Manas in 2014 and one in 2017. The current population of 32 rhinos in Manas continues to thrive.  We are now ready to start building a stable rhino population in a second protected area, and are planning to move at least six Indian rhinos from Kaziranga National Park to the Laokhowa-Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuary beginning in 2019-2020.

The greater one-horned rhinoceros has a prehensil (capable of grasping) upper lip to help it browse.  This anatomy is share with black rhinos, Sumatran and Javan rhinos, bears, giraffes, horses, llamas, moose and manatees.

Greater One-horned Rhinoceros moms will stay close to their calves for up to four years, sometimes allowing an older calf to continue to accompany her once a baby arrives!

They can be 6 feet tall, 11 feet long, weigh 2 1/2 tons and run 35 mph!  This one was recently in the water!

The Greater One-horned Rhinoceros is considered vulnerable with only 2500 left in the wild! This one really likes the water!!

There are just over 2000 Bengal Tigers left in the wild in India. They are endangered and hard to find in the jungle!

This tiger mom had 4 cubs, about 3 to 4 months old but only two were photographed with her.  Not the best photograph, the tigers were among trees and there were many other safari vehicles that were trying to see the cubs as well.

Tigers have very sharp and large teeth. This 10 month old cub has impressive teeth already. Tigers have fewer teeth than other carnivores such as dogs (42 teeth) with only 30 teeth.  All cats have deciduous (temporary) teeth that come in within a week or two after birth. These teeth are referred to as milk teeth similar to humans' baby teeth. The milk teeth are eventually replaced by the permanent ones. Therefore they are seldom without a set of teeth.  Tigers have the largest canines of all big cat species ranging in size from 6.4 to 7.6 centimeters (2.5 to 3.0 in) in length. The canines have abundant pressure-sensing nerves that enable the tiger to identify the location when attacking its prey.  The back teeth of the tiger are called carnassials which enables the tiger to shear meat from their prey like knife blades. They swallow large-sheared pieces of meat whole.  Tigers are capable of penetrating deeply into their prey because of the large gap between the carnassials (back teeth) and the canines hold prey tightly.  The small incisors located in the front of the mouth (between the two top and bottom canines) enable the tiger to pick off meat and feathers from their prey.

This adult male tiger (over 10 years old and the father of the above 10 month old cub) was photographed in evening light as he came down for a late drink at a pond in Bandhavgarh National Park in India.

The tall grass made photographing the large male tiger drinking at the pond very difficult.  I was able to focus on his ears and you can see his tongue in action.  He drank continuously for over 5 minutes.  Water spots are not common so when you have the opportunity to drink in Bandhavgarh, you take advantage!

There was some wind making ripples in the water, so the reflexion was muddled, but there was a reflection.  The sun was down and twilight was present.  It was wonderful to see this large tiger getting ready to settle down for the night!

The light was bad and the tiger was a little too far away for my 200-500 mm lens but anytime I am photographing a tiger in the wild, it is a great experience.  He must has had an itch or perhaps the warm sand felt good for his aching tiger bones!

Who would the 3-month-old baby walk with and graze with in the large Asian elephant family?  Would it be mom, grandmother, or aunt?  No, it was baby's 2-year-old brother!  Sibling relationships are special and these two siblings were trunk to trunk was they munched their way through 10-foot-tall grass.  The baby would come in and out of view until I took this photograph, my favorite on our 2 1/2 week trip to India in March 2019.

Asian elephants (adults) eat up to 330 (150 kg) pounds of food a day! More than two thirds of an elephant’s day may be spent feeding on grasses, but large amounts of tree bark, roots, leaves and small stems are also eaten.  They drink up to 50 gallons (equivlaent to a full bath tube) a day so they are never too far from water. 


The distinctive trunk is an elongation of the nose and upper lip combined; the nostrils are at its tip, which has a one finger-like process. The trunk contains as many as 60,000 muscles, which consist of longitudinal and radiating sets. The longitudinals are mostly superficial and subdivided into anterior, lateral, and posterior. The deeper muscles are best seen as numerous distinct fasciculi in a cross-section of the trunk. The trunk is a multipurpose prehensile organ and highly sensitive, innervated by the maxillary division of the trigeminal nerve and by the facial nerve. The acute sense of smell uses both the trunk and Jacobson's organ. Elephants use their trunks for breathing, watering, feeding, touching, dusting, sound production and communication, washing, pinching, grasping, defense and offense.

Asian elephants can reach 20 feet high to find their favorite foods! They can live to be 70 years old, weigh 3 to 6 tons, stand 6 to 12 feet all and 20 feet in length!

Though their hide looks tough, elephants have sensitive skin that can get sunburned.  To counteract the damaging rays of the sun, elephants throw sand on themselves. Adult elephants will also douse youngsters with dust. When coming out of a bath in a river, elephants will often throw mud on themselves as a layer of protection. And when calves are sleeping, adults will often stand over them to cast shade and protect them from the sun.

Mothers, aunts, sisters, and the matriarch are very important to calf development. The pace of the herd is adjusted, so the young can keep up. Calves learn which plants are edible and ways to acquire them, by watching their elders. Mothers and aunts are in almost constant affectionate contact with the young, offering guidance and assistance.  Calves nurse for the first six months of life. Elephant milk is high in fat and protein (100 times more than the protein contained in cow's milk).  On average, calves drink about 10 L (21 pt.) a day.  Calves begin to experiment with their developing trunks between four and six months of age by picking grasses and leaves to supplement their diet. Weaning from milk gradually follows this process. Calves are not completely weaned until they are over two years of age and may weigh 850-900 kg (1,874-1,984 lb.).

Hopefully will have a long Life!

Evidence suggests that Asian elephants typically live into their mid-50s, but there is not enough consistent data available on wild Asian elephants to accurately estimate their lifespan.  The longevity record for an Asian elephant in human care is 86 years.


Sibling Love!

Elephants show affection by connecting trunk to tail.  The young baby elephant on the right affectionately grabbed the tail of the baby to the left. 

Back to the River!

The smooth-coated otter is a relatively large otter, from 7 to 11 kg (15 to 24 lb) in weight and 59 to 64 cm (23 to 25 in) in head-body length, with a tail 37 to 43 cm (15 to 17 in) long. It is distinguished from other otter species by its more rounded head and a hairless nose in the shape of a distorted diamond. Its tail is flattened, in contrast to the more rounded tails of other otters. Its legs are short and strong, with large webbed feet bearing strong claws.  As its name suggests, it has unusually short and sleek fur; this is dark to reddish brown along the back, while the underside is light brown to almost grey in color.

The smooth-coated otter has been recorded in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, southwest China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesian islands of Borneo, Sumatra and Java, and Brunei. An isolated population is also found in the marshes of Iraq.  It occurs in areas where fresh water is plentiful — wetlands and seasonal swamps, rivers, lakes, and rice paddies. Where it is the only occurring otter species, it lives in almost any suitable habitat. But where it is sympatric with other otter species, it avoids smaller streams and canals in favor of larger water bodies. Although it is often found in saltwater near the coast, especially on smaller islands, it requires a nearby source of fresh water.

Play Fighting!

Smooth-coated otters are social and hunt in groups. They are mainly active during the day and have a short lull in activity during midday.  They spend the night in dens dug in dense vegetation, under tree roots, or among boulders. They use scent to communicate both within the otter species, and with other animals. Each otter possesses a pair of scent glands at the base of the tail which are used to mark land or objects, such as rocks or vegetation, near feeding areas in a behavior called sprainting. They also communicate through vocalizations such as whistles, chirps, and wails.  Fish comprise over 70% of their diet, but they also eat reptiles, frogs, insects, crustaceans, and small mammals.

They are a vulnerable species and protected by the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

Hunting Companions!

The Indian grey mongoose or common grey mongoose is a mongoose species mainly found in West Asia and on the Indian subcontinent.  In North Indian languages (Hindi/Punjabi) it is called Nevlaa. The grey mongoose is commonly found in open forests, scrublands and cultivated fields, often close to human habitation. It lives in burrows, hedgerows and thickets, among groves of trees, and takes shelter under rocks or bushes and even in drains. It is very bold and inquisitive but wary, seldom venturing far from cover. It climbs very well. Usually found singly or in pairs. It preys on rodents, snakes, birds’ eggs and hatchlings, lizards and variety of invertebrates. Along the Chambal River it occasionally feeds on gharial eggs. It breeds throughout the year.

The grey mongoose was a highlight of the trip.  As a child, I read the story "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" in the 1894 The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling about the adventures of a young Indian mongoose and his struggles against two cobras.

Water Buffalo

There are two types of water buffalo found in India: River Buffalo (50 chromosomes) prefers deep water and Swamp Buffalo (48 chromosomes) prefers wallowing in mud holes.  I am not sure which type is one is.  We saw this water buffalo in Kaziranga National Park in Assam where Swamp Buffalo can be found.

Getting Ready for Mud Bath!

This Indian Wild Boar was getting ready for a mud bath.  This species is widely found in all habitats in India with exception of desert areas and the high Himalayas.

Menon, V. (2014) Indian Mammals: A Field Guide. Gurgagon, India: Hacgette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd

Golden Jackals!

Golden Jackals are found throughout India with the exception of the high Himalayas.  They tolerate human activity more easily than wolves and are found around human settlements.

Menon, V. (2014) Indian Mammals: A Field Guide. Gurgagon, India: Hacgette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd

Mates for Life!

The basic social unit of the golden jackal is a mated pair or a mated pair and its young. Golden jackal pairs forage and rest together. All of their behavior is highly synchronized. Cooperative hunting is important to the jackals. Pairs are three times more likely to be successful than individuals in hunting. Members of the same family also cooperate in sharing larger food items and transport food in their stomachs for later regurgitation to pups or to a lactating mother. Hunting families hold territories of two to three square kilometers throughout the year, portions of which are marked with urine, either by the male or the female jackal, to ward off intruders.

Companion of the Spotted Deer!

The Terai Grey Languar was photographed in Bandhavgarh National Park.  They live in small colonies and can often be seen with the Chital or Spotted Deer.  The Spotted Deer eat leftover leaves dropped by Languar in trees.  They also warn each other of predators.

Menon, V. (2014) Indian Mammals: A Field Guide. Gurgagon, India: Hacgette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd


Favorite food for Tigers!

The Sambar deer is the largest deer found in India where it is widely found throughout the county with the exception of the high Himalayas, desert and the coasts.  Males can weigh over 1000 pounds and stand over 5' tall at the shoulder.

Menon, V. (2014) Indian Mammals: A Field Guide. Gurgagon, India: Hacgette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd

Endangered Swamp Deer!

These Eastern Swamp Deer (Barasingha) were photographed in Kaziranga National Park where only over 1000 are still alive.  The Swamp Deer are a large deer with height of nearly 4 feet at the shoulder and males weighing over 500 pounds.

Menon, V. (2014) Indian Mammals: A Field Guide. Gurgagon, India: Hacgette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd

Spotted Deer mom with Two Fawns!

The Spotted Deer is also known as Chital or Axis Deer.  They are found in the Indian subcontinent and are moderate sized with males reaching nearly 3 feet tall at the shoulder and up to 250 pounds.  A black is hitching a ride on mom.  Spotted Deer serve as lookouts for languar

Menon, V. (2014) Indian Mammals: A Field Guide. Gurgagon, India: Hacgette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd

Hog Deer!

This endangered small to medium grassland deer was photographed in Kaziranga National Park.  There are named Hog Deer due to their short and stout appearance, rising to just over 2 feet tall and weighing just over 100 pounds.

Menon, V. (2014) Indian Mammals: A Field Guide. Gurgagon, India: Hacgette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd

An Antelope as Tall as a Horse!

The Nilgai or Blue Bull is the largest antelope in Asia and found throughout the Indian subcontinent.  Males stand nearly 5 feet tall and can weigh over 600 poinds and comparable to a horse in size.  They like well watered habitats and I photographed this one Keoladeo National Park, a wonderful wetlands.

Menon, V. (2014) Indian Mammals: A Field Guide. Gurgagon, India: Hacgette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd

The Indian Hare, also known as the Black-naped Hare, is a common species of hare found in the Indian Subcontinent and in Java


Bengal Monitor!

The Bengal Monitor can grow to nearly 6 feet long (5.7 feet or 175 cm) with over half of that tail 3.2 feet (100 cm).  They are found in West Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.  They feed primarily on insects and other invertebrates.

Indian Rock Python!

This large non-venomous snake is found throughout India.  They can grow up to 10 feet long although the longest recorded was 15 feet long, weighing over 100 pounds.  They prefer to hunt small and medium sizes mammals and a meal can last them months or over 1 year.  Females can lay up to 100 eggs which she will incubate in a burrow.

The Gharial is a fish eating crocodile found in India and critically endangered.  Project Crocodile began in India in 1975 and conservation efforts have lead to recovery.  Gharials are bred in captivity in the National Chambal Sanctuary and in the Gharial Breeding Centre in Nepal's Chitwan National Park, where the eggs are hatched and then the gharials are grown for two to three years and average about one meter in length, when released.

The Mugger Crocodile, also called marsh crocodile, broad-snouted crocodile and mugger is a crocodilian native to freshwater habitats from southern Iran and Pakistan to the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka. It is extinct in Bhutan and Myanmar and has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1982.


Grewal, V.; Sen, S.; Singh, S.; Devasar, N. and Bhatia, G. (2016) A Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of India, Pakiston, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press

Anseriformes: Anatidae- Waterfowl

A Most Amazing Bird!!

The Bar-headed Goose is the 3rd highest flying bird in the world, recorded at 29,000 feet elevation.  They nest in Tibet and Mongolia then fly over the Himalaya mountains to winter in India.  They have large lungs and specialized hemoglobin and muscle capillaries that allow them to fly at such high altitudes.  Only the Common Crane (33,000 feet) and Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture (37,000 feet) are known to fly higher.

Bar-headed geese fly over the Himalayan montain range on their migration from their summer nesting sites in Tibet, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia

 to their winter home in India.  They can 1000 miles in a single day!

The Indian Spot-billed Duck is a non-migratory duck that feeds on plant material in India's wetlands.

These Lesser Whistling Ducks were photographed on the Chambal River.  They are resident ducks that make a whistling call in flight.  They feed on water plants, grains, fish, frogs and small invertebrates.

The Ruddy Shelduck is a migratory bird, wintering in the Indian subcontinent and breeding in southeastern Europe and central Asia.  They make a loud honking call in flight.

The Greater White-fronted Geese breed in Siberia and much of the northern world including Europe, Greenland and North America.  They are not commonly seen in India.

Galliformes: Phasianidae Heavy Ground-living Birds

This Red Junglefowl was photographed in Kaziranga National Park.  Around 5000 years ago, some of them became domesticated in Asia and the resulting generations became today's chickens.

The Indian Peafowl is native to India but has been introduced to many other parts of the world.  The male, or peacock, is predominantly blue with a fan-like crest of wire-like feathers and is best known for the long train made up of elongated upper-tail feathers which bear colorful eyespots.

Podicipediformes: Podicipedidae- Grebes

The Little Grebe is a small water bird with a pointed bill.  This bird breeds in small colonies in heavily vegetated areas of freshwater lakes across Europe, much of Asia down to New Guinea, and most of Africa. Most birds move to more open or coastal waters in winter, but it is only migratory in those parts of its range where the waters freeze.  The little grebe is an excellent swimmer and diver and pursues its fish and aquatic invertebrate prey underwater. It uses the vegetation skillfully as a hiding place.

Ciconiiformes: Ciconiidae- Storks

The Asian Openbill or Asian Openbill Stork is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. This distinctive stork is found mainly in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is greyish or white with glossy black wings and tail and the adults have a gap between the arched upper mandible and recurved lower mandible. Young birds are born without this gap which is thought to be an adaptation that aids in the handling of snails, their main prey. Although resident within their range, they make long distance movements in response to weather and food availability.

The Woolley-necked Stork is a widespread tropical species which breeds in Asia, from India to Indonesia, and throughout Africa. It is a resident breeder in wetlands with trees. They use a variety of freshwater wetlands including seasonal and perennial reservoirs and marshes, crop lands, irrigation canals and rivers. They are attracted to fires in grasslands and crop fields where they capture insects trying to escape the fire.

The Black-necked Stork is a tall long-necked wading bird in the stork family. It is a resident species across the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia with a disjunct population in Australia. It lives in wetland habitats and certain crops such as rice and wheat where it forages for a wide range of animal prey. Adult birds of both sexes have a heavy bill and are patterned in white and glossy blacks, but the sexes differ in the color of the iris. In Australia, it is sometimes called a jabiru although that name refers to a stork species found in the Americas. It is one of the few storks that is strongly territorial when feeding.

The Lesser Adjutant is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. Like other members of its genus, it has a bare neck and head. It is however more closely associated with wetland habitats where it is solitary and is less likely to scavenge than the related Greater Adjutant. It is a widespread species found from India through Southeast Asia to Java.

The painted stork is a large wader in the stork family. It is found in the wetlands of the plains of tropical Asia south of the Himalayas in the Indian Subcontinent and extending into Southeast Asia. Their distinctive pink tertial feathers of the adults give them their name. They forage in flocks in shallow waters along rivers or lakes. They immerse their half open beaks in water and sweep them from side to side and snap up their prey of small fish that are sensed by touch. As they wade along, they also stir the water with their feet to flush hiding fish. They nest colonially in trees, often along with other water birds.

Keoladeo National Park is a great location to see Painted Storks.

Suliformes: Phalacrocoracidae- Cormorants

The Little Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. Slightly smaller than the Indian Cormorant it lacks a peaked head and has a shorter beak. It is widely distributed across the Indian Subcontinent and extends east to Java, where it is sometimes called the Javanese cormorant. It forages singly or sometimes in loose groups in lowland freshwater bodies, including small ponds, large lakes, streams and sometimes coastal estuaries. Like other cormorants, it is often found perched on a waterside rock with its wings spread out after coming out of the water.

The Great Cormorant can be found in Eastern United States, Europe, Africa, Australia and India.

Suliformes: Anhingidae- Darters

The Oriental darter or Indian darter is a water bird of tropical South Asia and Southeast Asia. It has a long and slender neck with a straight, pointed bill and, like the cormorant, it hunts for fish while its body is submerged in water. It spears a fish underwater, bringing it above the surface, tossing and juggling it before swallowing the fish head first.

Pelecaniformes: Pelecanidae- Pelicans

This Great White Pelican was photographed in Keoladeo National Park.  This bird can be found from southeastern Europe through Asia and Africa, in swamps and shallow lakes.

Pelecaniformes: Ardeidae- Bitterns, Egrets, Herons

Not an Easy Bird to Photograph!

The Black Bittern is a bittern of Old World origin, breeding in tropical Asia from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka east to China, Indonesia, and Australia. It is mainly resident, but some northern birds migrate short distances.  This is a fairly large species at 58 cm (23 in) in length, being by some margin the largest bittern in the genus Ixobrychus. Compared to related species, it has a longish neck and long yellow bill. The adult is uniformly black above, with yellow neck sides. It is whitish below, heavily streaked with brown. The juvenile is like the adult, but dark brown rather than black.  Their breeding habitat is reed beds. They nest on platforms of reeds in shrubs, or sometimes in trees. Three to five eggs are laid. They can be difficult to see, given their skulking lifestyle and reed bed habitat, but tend to fly fairly frequently when the all black upperparts make them unmistakable.  Black bitterns feed on insects, fish, and amphibians.

The Grey Heron is a long-legged predatory wading bird of the heron family, Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in much of its range, but some populations from the more northern parts migrate southwards in autumn. A bird of wetland areas, it can be seen around lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes and on the sea coast. It feeds mostly on aquatic creatures which it catches after standing stationary beside or in the water or stalking its prey through the shallows.

The Purple Heron breeds in Africa, central and southern Europe, and southern and eastern Asia.  It is similar in appearance to the more common Grey Heron but is slightly smaller, more slender and has darker plumage. It is also a more evasive bird, favoring densely vegetated habitats near water, particularly reed beds. It hunts for a range of prey including fish, rodents, frogs and insects, either stalking them or standing waiting in ambush.

The Great Egret, also known as the Common Egret, Large Egret, or (in the Old World) Great White Egret or Great White Heron is a large, widely distributed egret, with four subspecies found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world, it builds tree nests in colonies close to water.  This Great Egret was photographed in Keoladeo National Park.

The Intermediate Egret, Median Egret, Smaller Egret, or Yellow-billed Egret is a medium-sized heron.  It is a resident breeder from east Africa across the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia and Australia.

The Indian Pond Heron or paddybird is a small heron. It is of Old World origins, breeding in southern Iran and east to Pakistan, India, Burma, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. They are widespread and common but can be easily missed when they stalk prey at the edge of small water-bodies or even when they roost close to human habitations.

The Black-crowned Night-heron, or Black-capped Night heron, commonly shortened to just Night Heron in Eurasia, is a medium-sized heron found throughout a large part of the world, except in the coldest regions and Australasia.  They are called Night-herons due to their feeding mainly at night.

Pelecaniformes: Threskiornithidae- Large Wading Birds, Ibises and Spoonbills

The Black-headed Ibis on the left is a large water bird that is found in India and Asia east to Japan.  The glossy ibis on the right is the most widespread ibis in the world, found in Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, Central America and North America (Florda).

The Black-faced Ibis, like other ibises, uses its long bill to probe wetlands for small vertebrates and invertebrates.

The Black-faced Ibis can submerge its head and neck entirely while wading when necessary.

The Red-naped Ibis is able to feed away from water and can found in fields.  This one, however, was photographed on the shore of the Chambal River. 

The Red-naped Ibis is only found in the Indian subcontinent.  I was hopeful to photograph this beautiful bird in flight but was unable to do so. 

Eurasian Spoonbills are found in a large area from Europe to Japan, Africa and much of the Indian subcontinent.

The Eurasian Spoonbill, unlike other large wading birds such as herons, flies with its neck extended.

Accipitriformes: Accipitridae- Raptors

The Crested Serpent Eagle is found in much of Asia and 21 subspecies have been named, some of which are critically endangered.  We saw serpent eagles in Keoladeo National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park and Kaziranga National Park. 

Snakes are a favorite food of Crested Serpent Eagles, as their name implies.

The Egyptian Vulture is found from North Africa to India and is considered endangered.  Populations in India have suffered a serious decline, due to environmental contamination from an anti-inflammatory veterinary medication used in livestock.  The use of this medication was banned in India in 2006 and populations have started to rebound.

This Egyptian Vulture was photographed at the National Chambal Sanctuary.

The Eurasian Marsh Harrier is also known as the Western Harrier and found in Central Asia, Europe and Africa.  They like wetlands as preferred habitats and nest on the ground.

Harriers are difficult for me to photograph as they don't often perch but this did and then took off.  They usually glide low over flat open ground on their search for prey and this makes photography challenging.

The Grey-headed Fish-Eagle is a raptor of South East Asia and live in lowland forests up to 1,500 m above sea-level. Their nests are close to bodies of water such as slow-moving rivers and streams, lakes, lagoons, reservoirs, marshes, swamps and coastal lagoons and estuaries

The Long-legged Buzzard reminds me of the Rough-legged Hawk of North America in regards to wing feathers and size.  This buzzard is a large raptor with females weighing nearly 3 pounds with a 63 inch wingspan.  It inhabits dry open plains of northern Africa, southeastern Europe, west and central Asia east to China, and across central India.

The Oriental Honey Buzzard is also known as the Crested Honey Buzzard.  This is an unusual raptor due to its specialized diet- living mainly on the larvae of social bees and wasps, and eating bits of comb and honey; it takes other small insect prey such as cicadas.  This buzzard nests in Siberia and Japan then winters in South East Asia including India.

The Steppe Eagle breeds from Romania east through the south Russian and Central Asian steppes to Mongolia. The European and Central Asian birds winter in Africa, and the eastern birds in India. Throughout its range it favors open dry habitats, such as desert, semi-desert, steppes, or savannah.

The White-eyed Buzzard is widely distributed in South Asia, throughout India in the plains and extending up to 1000 m in the Himalayas. It is a resident in Iran, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

Gruiformes: Rallidae- crakes, coots, gallinules

The Purple Moorhen is also known as the Western Swamphen prefers wet areas with high rainfall, swamps, lake edges and damp pastures.  This bird is found in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Gruiformes: Gruidae- cranes

The Tallest Flying Bird!!

The sarus crane is tallest of the flying birds, standing at a height of up to 5 feet 11 inches (1.8 meters) and is a non-migratory crane found in parts of the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia. Their favorite habitat is open wetlands in south Asia.

Sarus cranes have loud trumpeting calls. These calls are, as in other cranes, produced by the elongated trachea that form coils within the sternal region.  Pairs may indulge in spectacular displays of calling in unison and posturing.

Sarus cranes forage in shallow water (usually with less 1-foot depth of water) or in fields, frequently probing in mud with their long bills.  They are omnivorous, eating insects (especially grasshoppers), aquatic plants, fish, frogs, crustaceans and seeds.

A Vulnerable Species!

There were about an estimated 15–20,000 mature sarus cranes left in the wild in 2009. The Indian population is less than 10,000, but of the three subspecies, is the healthiest in terms of numbers. They are considered sacred and the birds are traditionally left unharmed, and in many areas they are unafraid of humans.

Charadriiformes: Charadriidae- lapwings

The Red-wattled Lapwing is a commonly found wading bird in India.  This colorful bird is very noisy and aggressively scolds if one gets too close to their nest. 

The Grey-Headed Lapwing is a lapwing species which breeds in northeast China and Japan. The mainland population winters in northern Southeast Asia from northeastern India to Cambodia.

Charadriiformes: Burhinidae- Thick-knee

This Great Thick-knee is an unusual bird-great thick-knee or the great stone-curlew is a large wader which is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh into South-east Asia.  It Feeds mainly on crabs and other crustaceans and also insects.

The Indian Skimmer has a short upper mandible and the longer lower mandible that is ploughed along the surface of water as the bird flies over the water to pick aquatic prey. It is found in southern Asia, where it is patchily distributed and declining in numbers. They are mainly found in rivers or estuaries.  The Indian Skimmer is a vulnerable species.

Columbiformes: Columbidae- Doves and Pigeons

The Rock Pigeon is native to Europe, Africa and Asia but is now commonly found in North America after its introduction years ago.

Cuculiformes: Cuculidae- Cuckoos and Coucals 

The Southern Coucal was recently spit in classification from the Greater Coucal.  The Greater Coucal is found in northern India while the Southern Coucal is found throughout the rest of India.  They are weak fliers, and are often seen clambering about in vegetation or walking on the ground as they forage for insects, eggs and nestlings of other birds.

Strigiformes: Strigidae- Owls

The Spotted Owlet is a small owl which breeds in tropical Asia from mainland India to Southeast Asia. A common resident of open habitats including farmland and human habitation, it has adapted to living in cities. They roost in small groups in the hollows of trees or in cavities in rocks or buildings. It nests in a hole in a tree or building, laying 3–5 eggs. They are often found near human habitation.

The Asian barred owlet is a species of true owl, resident in northern parts of the Indian Subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. It ranges across north central and northeast India, Nepal Bhutan, north Bangladesh, and southeast Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam). Its natural habitat is temperate forest.

The Brown Fish Owl inhabits the warm subtropical and humid tropical parts of continental Asia and some offshore islands. Of the four living species of fish owl, it is the most widely distributed, most common and best-studied. It occupies a range of over 7,000 km (4,300 mi) from eastern China to Palestine.  Brown fish owl primarily hunt by stationing itself on a rock overhang or hanging perch over water, or by wading into shallow waters. It grabs food by gliding over the water, nearly skimming it with its feet and grabbing its prey by quickly extending its long legs. It feeds mainly on fishes, frogs and aquatic crustaceans, especially Potamon crabs. It usually selects the larger freshwater fish available in waterways.

The Oriental Scops-Owl is a small owl with an extremely wide distribution across eastern and southern Asia, and is found in dry deciduous forests from the Russian Federation to Thailand. The owl nests in holes in trees during February–April.

Coraciiformes: Alcedinidae- Kingfishers

The White-throated Kingfisher, also known as the white-breasted kingfisher, is a tree kingfisher, widely distributed in Asia from the Sinai east through the Indian subcontinent to the Philippines. This kingfisher is a resident over much of its range, although some populations may make short distance movements. It can often be found well away from water where it feeds on a wide range of prey that includes small reptiles, amphibians, crabs, small rodents and even birds.


The Common Kingfisher also known as the Eurasian kingfisher, and river kingfisher, is a small kingfisher with seven subspecies recognized within its wide distribution across Eurasia and North Africa. It is resident in much of its range, but migrates from areas where rivers freeze in winter.  This sparrow-sized bird has the typical short-tailed, large-headed kingfisher profile; it has blue upperparts, orange underparts and a long bill. It feeds mainly on fish, caught by diving, and has special visual adaptations to enable it to see prey under water.

The Pied Kingfisher is a water kingfisher and is found widely distributed across Africa and Asia. Originally described by Linnaeus in 1758, it has five recognized subspecies. Its black and white plumage, crest and the habit of hovering over clear lakes and rivers before diving for fish make it distinctive. Males have a double band across the breast while females have a single gorget that is often broken in the middle. They are usually found in pairs or small family parties. When perched, they often bob their head and flick up their tail.

The Stork-billed Kingfisher, is a tree kingfisher which is widely but sparsely distributed in the tropical Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, from India to Indonesia. This kingfisher is resident throughout its range.  It is a very large kingfisher, measuring 35 cm (14 in) in length. The Stork-billed Kingfisher lives in a variety of well-wooded habitats near lakes, rivers, or coasts. It perches quietly whilst seeking food, and is often inconspicuous despite its size. It is territorial and will chase away eagles and other large predators. This species hunts fish, frogs, crabs, rodents and young birds.

Coracififormes: Meropidae- Bee-eaters

The Green Bee-eater, also known as Little Green Bee-eater, is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family. It is resident but prone to seasonal movements and is found widely distributed across sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal and the Gambia to Ethiopia, the Nile valley, western Arabia and Asia through India to Vietnam. They are mainly insect eaters and they are found in grassland, thin scrub and forest often quite far from water. Several regional plumage variations are known and several subspecies have been named.

The Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, or Bay-headed Bee-eater, is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae. It is a resident breeder in the Indian subcontinent and adjoining regions, ranging from India east to Southeast Asia.  This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly colored, slender bird. It is predominantly green, with blue on the rump and lower belly. Its face and throat are yellow with a black eye stripe, and the crown and nape are rich chestnut. The thin curved bill is black. Sexes are alike, but young birds are duller.

Coraciiformes: Coraciidae- Rollers

The Indian roller is a member of the roller bird family. It occurs widely from West Asia to the Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.  It is best known for its aerobatic displays of males during the breeding season. It is often seen perched along roadside trees and wires and are commonly seen in open grassland and scrub forest habitats. It is not migratory, but undertakes some seasonal movements. The largest population occurs in India, and several states in India have chosen it as their state bird.  

The display of this bird is an aerobatic display, with the twists and turns that give this species its English name. The breeding season is March to June, slightly earlier in southern India. Displays when perched include bill-up displays, bowing, allopreening, wing drooping and tail fanning. Holes created by woodpeckers or wood boring insects in palms are favored for nesting in some areas. Nest cavities may also be made by tearing open rotten tree trunks or in cavities in building

Coraciiformes: Upupidae- Hoopoes

The Common or Eurasian Hoopoe is widespread in Europe, Asia, and North Africa and northern Sub-Saharan Africa. Most European and north Asian birds migrate to the tropics in winter.  In contrast, the African populations are sedentary all year.

Coraciiformes: Bucerotidae- Hornbills

The Oriental Pied Hornbill is an Indo-Malayan pied hornbill, a large canopy-dwelling bird belonging to the Bucerotidae family.  Two other common names for this species are Sunda Pied Hornbill and Malaysian pied hornbill. The species is considered to be among the smallest and most common of the Asian hornbills. It has the largest distribution in the genus and is found in the Indian Subcontinent and throughout Southeast Asia.  Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. The oriental pied hornbill's diet includes fruit, insects and small reptiles.  These photographs were taken in Kaziranga National Park.

Piciformes: Megalaimidae- Barbets

The Brown-headed Barbet or Large Green Barbet is an Asian barbet. Barbets are a group of near passerine birds with a worldwide tropical distribution. The barbets get their name from the bristles which fringe their heavy bills.  The Brown-headed Barbet is a resident breeder in the Indian subcontinent, widespread in India and also seen in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It is an arboreal species of gardens and wooded country which eats fruit and insects.  These birds were photographed in Keoladeo National Park.

The Coppersmith Barbet, Crimson-breasted Barbet or Coppersmith, is a bird with crimson forehead and throat, known for its metronomic call that sounds similar to a coppersmith striking metal with a hammer. It is a resident found in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Similar to other barbets, they carve out a hole inside a tree to build their nest. They are predominantly frugivorous, but they have been observed to eat insects, specially winged termites.  These birds were photographed in Keoladeo National Park.

Psittaciformes: Psittacidae- Parakeets

The Plum-headed Parakeet is a parrot in the family Psittacidae. It is endemic to the Indian Subcontinent. Plum-headed parakeets are found in flocks, the males having a pinkish purple head and the females, a grey head. They fly swiftly with twists and turns accompanied by their distinctive calls.  This photograph was taken in Bandhavgarh National Park.

The Rose-ringed Parakeet, also known as the Rose ring-necked Parakeet, is a medium-sized parrot in the genus Psittacula, of the family Psittacidae. It has disjunct native ranges in Africa and South Asia, and is now introduced into many other parts of the world where feral populations have established themselves and are bred for the exotic pet trade.  Both males and females have the ability to mimic human speech. First, the bird listens to its surroundings, and then it copies the voice of the human speaker.  A popular pet, the rose-ringed parakeet has been released in a wide range of cities around the world, giving it an environment with few predators where their preferred diet of seeds, nuts, fruits, and berries is available from suburban gardens and bird feeders. Its adaptations to cold winters in the Himalayan foothills allow it to easily withstand European winter conditions. It has established feral populations in a number of European cities, South Africa and Japan. There are also apparently stable populations in the US (Florida, California and Hawaii).  The first photograph was taken Keoladeo National Park and the second at Kaziranga National Park.

The Alexandrine Parakeet, also known as the Alexandrine Parrot, is a medium-sized parrot in the genus Psittacula of the family Psittacidae. It is named after Alexander the Great, who transported numerous birds from Punjab to various European and Mediterranean countries and regions, where they were prized by the royalty, nobility and warlords.

Passeriformes: Laniidae- Shrikes

The Long-tailed Shrike or Rufous-backed Shrike is a member of the bird family Laniidae, the shrikes. They are found widely distributed across Asia and there are variations in plumage across the range. The species ranges across much of Asia, both on the mainland and the eastern archipelagos. Although there are considerable differences in plumage among the subspecies, they all have a long and narrow black tail, have a black mask and forehead, rufous rump and flanks and a small white patch on the shoulder.  This bird has a characteristic upright "shrike" attitude when perched on a bush, from which it glides down at an angle to take lizards, large insects, small birds and rodents.  They sometimes impale prey on a thorny bush.

Passeriformes: Dicruridae- Drongos

The Black Drongo is a small Asian passerine bird of the drongo family Dicruridae. It is a common resident breeder in much of tropical southern Asia from southwest Iran through India and Sri Lanka east to southern China and Indonesia. It is a wholly black bird with a distinctive forked tail and measures 28 cm (11 in) in length. It feeds on insects, and is common in open agricultural areas and light forest throughout its range, perching conspicuously on a bare perch or along power or telephone lines. The species is known for its aggressive behavior towards much larger birds, such as crows, never hesitating to dive-bomb any bird of prey that invades its territory.

Passeriformes: Corvidae- Crows

The Indian jungle crow is found across mainland India south of the foothills of the Himalayas, east of the desert regions of northwestern India and having an eastern limit around Bengal. It is also found in Sri Lanka.

Passeriformes: Pycnonotidae- Bulbuls

The Red-vented Bulbul is a member of the bulbul family of passerines. It is resident breeder across the Indian subcontinent, including Sri Lanka extending east to Burma and parts of Tibet. It has been introduced in many other parts of the world and has established itself in the wild on several Pacific islands including Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Hawaii. It has also established itself in parts of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, the United States and Argentina. It is included in the list of the world's 100 worst invasive alien species.

The white-eared bulbul, or white-cheeked bulbul, or Iraqi bulbul is a member of the bulbul family. It is found in south-western Asia from India to the Arabian Peninsula. In Iraq many Iraqis owns the Iraqi bulbuls as pets, they are one of the smartest and most intelligent birds on earth.

Passeriformes: Muscicapidae- Robins and Flycatchers

The Oriental Magpie-robin is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but now considered an Old-World flycatcher. They are distinctive black and white birds with a long tail that is held upright as they forage on the ground or perch conspicuously. Occurring across most of the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia, they are common birds in urban gardens as well as forests. They are particularly well known for their songs and were once popular as cage birds. The oriental magpie-robin is the national bird of Bangladesh.

The Verditer Flycatcher is an Old-World flycatcher It is found from the Himalayas through Southeast Asia to Sumatra.  This species is named after its distinctive shade of copper-sulphate blue and has a dark patch between the eyes and above the bill base. The adult males are intense blue on all areas of the body, except for the black eye-patch and grey vent. Adult females and sub-adults are lighter blue.

The Black Redstart is a widespread breeder in south and central Europe and Asia and north-west Africa, from Great Britain and Ireland (where local) south to Morocco, east to central China. It is resident in the milder parts of its range, but north-eastern birds migrate to winter in southern and western Europe and Asia, and north Africa. It nests in crevices or holes in buildings.

The Common Stonechat can be found throughout India.  This bird likes to perch on shrubs before making short foreys to capture insects.  This photograph was taken in Bandhavgarh National Park.

Passeriformes: Sturnidae-  Mynas and Starlings

The Asian Pied Starling or Pied Myna is a species of starling found in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. They are usually found in small groups mainly on the plains and low foothills. They are often seen within cities and villages although they are not as bold as the Common Myna.

Passeriformes: Nectariniidae-  Sunbirds

The Purple Sunbird is a small sunbird. Like other sunbirds they feed mainly on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. They have a fast and direct flight and can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird but often perch at the base of flowers. The males appear all black except in some lighting when the purple iridescence becomes visible. Females are olive above and yellowish below.  The species is distributed widely from West Asia through the Indian subcontinent and into Southeast Asia. They are resident birds in most parts of their range and do not move large distances.

Passeriformes: Motacillidae- Wagtails, Pipits

The White-browed Wagtail or Large Pied Wagtail is a medium-sized bird and is the largest member of the wagtail family. They are conspicuously patterned with black above and white below, a prominent white brow, shoulder stripe and outer tail feathers. White-browed Wagtails are native to South Asia, common near small water bodies and have adapted to urban environments where they often nest on roof tops.

Passeriformes: Passeridae- Sparrows, Petronias

The Chestnut-shouldered Petronia or Yellow-throated Sparrow is a species of sparrow found in southern Asia.