A Feathery Trail to meet the birds of Kabini

posted in: Asia, India, Karnataka, Nature | 1

Sometimes in our quest for big things, we miss the tiny treasures that are right in front of us!

That is honestly the case when it comes to Kabini. Most of us come with the hope of spotting the big cats but what we tend to miss out are the fluttering beauties of the Kabini forest. The birds of Kabini are an exotic bunch and if you have missed them, you truly missed the essence of this place.

Bar-Headed Geese  in flight - The Migratory birds of Kabini
Bar-Headed Geese in flight – The Migratory birds of Kabini

Birding in Kabini is a true delight for you don’t just spot one particular class of bird but many birds in each of the different classes. You can literally see a whole range from aquatic species to land raptors – that not just native to Kabini but visit us from as far out as Siberia. The Kabini birds come in all sizes and shapes and even colors. In fact, I did a color challenge on Instagram where my followers gave me a color and I showed them a Kabini bird of that color . And yes, I won!

Through this post, I will not only relive this color challenge but also, showcase some rare sightings that I managed when birdwatching in Kabini. At the end of this photo-journey, you will find a guide to birding in Kabini. I suspect that you will definitely need that after you have seen my own Kabini birding experience. So let’s begin – first with the color challenge.

Birds of Kabini – by color

The Instagram challenge that I did for Kabini birds followed a rainbow theme. In addition to that, I got colors like Pink and neon blues. And voila! I had them all. Check it out!

Violet, Indigo & Blue Birds in Kabini

I would like to club these three colors of the rainbow together as the birds that I will showcase have them all in varied shades. The neon blue and the purples too, fall under this category. Presenting number one – the Kingfisher.

Kingfishers – Bird watching in Kabini

The White Throated Kingfisher  - one of the common Kabini Birds
The White Throated Kingfisher – one of the common Kabini Birds

I spotted two different varieties of Kingfisher – the first is the common White-throated Kingfisher and the second was a slightly uncommon Blue-eared Kingfisher. Catching the first one with its blue body and red beak was quite easy. These guys were happy to sit on the water woods and fish away to glory.

One of the highlights of my birding in Kabini - the Blue eared Kingfisher
One of the highlights of my birding in Kabini – the Blue eared Kingfisher

The electric blue of the 2nd species that I spotted is what makes it my favorite. The Blue-eared Kingfisher is not that common and is comparatively smaller than the earlier species. I tell you, that blob of blue just stands out against the dusty browns and the green backdrop of Kabini.

Sunbirds in Kabini

Purple sunbird in Kabini
Purple sunbird in Kabini

I only managed to snap one of the many swiftly fluttering, tinier-than your palm birds in Kabini. The variety ranged from the plain purple sunbird that you see here to purple rumped sunbird – the latter being the more colorful of the lot.

Peacocks & Peahens – spotted during the Kabini boat safari

Peacocks spotted during the boat safari in Kabini
Peacocks spotted during the boat safari in Kabini

The proud peacocks and their mates are generally found only during the Kabini safaris as they prefer the dense forest cover. Keep an eye out for them during the boat safaris. They love preening on the shores.

Looking for Green birds of Kabini

Bee-eaters – always online!

Green Bee eaters - found almost every time you go bird watching in Kabini
Green Bee eaters – found almost every time you go bird watching in Kabini

These guys are super easy to spot. They are always on line – Pun intended! Just look for the green creatures sitting on fences and electrical lines. They are quite tiny.

Rose-ringed Parakeets

Rose ringed parakeets - spotted during Kabini birding
Rose ringed parakeets – spotted during Kabini birding

They are not Parrots. In fact, in India, there is only one species of Parrots and you are not going to find them in Kabini. The rose-ringed parakeets are common around the forest and you might even find them in your Kabini resorts. They love making a ruckus.

There are a few sightings of their cousins – the Plum headed parakeets but not many as the green ones.

Yellow & Orange Kabini Birds

Indian White-Eye

Indian white-eye - birds of Kabini
Indian white-eye – birds of Kabini

I knew them as Oriental White-Eye but my naturalist corrected me and said they have been now renamed as Indian White-eye. Either way, that would be my presentation of a yellow bird.

Wagtails

The other bird that I spotted in this category of color but could not capture well is the Wagtail. The busy creatures kept flitting from branch to branch making it difficult for me to focus 😉

Jungle Fowls

Jungle fowls in Kabini
Jungle fowls in Kabini

Don’t dismiss them as regular poultry birds. These jungle fowls are quite colorful and distinct.

Painted Storks

Painted storks along Kabini river
Painted storks along Kabini river

A vibrant set of birds – these storks have always mesmerized me with their combination of yellow, orange, grey and pink on a coat of white. They are just stunning migratory birds who almost winter come to Kabini.

Red Birds of Kabini

Red Munias

Red Munia in a field around Kabini forest
Red Munia in a field around Kabini forest

The Red munias – no better fit for this color than them. I personally think that the art of tie and die or Bandhini was inspired by their coat. These tiny birds look like small berries in the green fields that they haunt.

With that the colors of a rainbow are covered. But wait! Bird watching in Kabini will not be complete until you see the other varieties that have made home here or at least temporary homes. Check them out.

Kabini Birds on water

An early morning stroll by the Kabini river or a boat safari at any time of the day would be perfect to spot these aquatic birds. It is quite fascinating to see them in action – launching from their perches, landing in the water or swooping down to catch a fish. Of the lot that I shared earlier, the painted storks would make an appearance here. The rest include –

Egrets on Kabini River

The Kabini aquatic birds - Greater Egret
The Kabini aquatic birds – Greater Egret

You are likely to find both – the Greater Egret and the Lesser Egret along the banks of Kabini river. They are basically a sub-type of herons and have a long neck, which they tend to retract when flying.

Grey Heron in Kabini

Grey Heron
Grey Heron

The light grey coat can sometimes appear white but the way I recognize them is by the little pigtail they have at the back of their head.

Black Cormorants – common species spotted when birding in Kabini

The most common birds spotted along Kabini river- Black Cormorants
The most common birds spotted along Kabini river- Black Cormorants

If you are on a boat safari, you can really get close to them. They nest right in the middle of the Kabini river on the tree stumps. Unlike the other aquatic birds, they do not have those oil glands to keep them dry. Hence, you will find them drying their coat by spreading their wings and standing at the edge of the river.

I was the most fascinated by their beaks and their green beady eyes. Gosh – those look super scary!

Darters (Snake-birds) in Kabini

The Darter or the Snake Bird - an aquatic bird of Kabini
The Darter or the Snake Bird – an aquatic bird of Kabini

One look at the neck and you know why these guys are referred to as Snake birds. Try to catch one plunging straight into the water and then emerging out elsewhere.

Hiding in the bushes – Bitterns

The shy Bitterns of Kabini
The shy Bitterns of Kabini

These small aquatic birds love the green cover by the banks of the River Kabini. Likely you will spot them when you do a nature trail around Kabini. They are hard to find during the boat safari.

Red-Naped Ibis – the Majestic Fish Hunters

The long beaked Red Naped Ibis
The long beaked Red Naped Ibis

They are not really red but have this crown on red that stands out against their black body. The one way I identify them is by their huge, long beaks.

Red- wattled Lapwings

The Red Wattled Lapwings - best seen when on a nature walk in Kabini
The Red Wattled Lapwings – best seen when on a nature walk in Kabini

Best chance of spotting them is during a nature walk. The birds are a little small and don’t really fly. They are normally wading in shallow waters of Kabini.

Indian Spot-billed ducks

The Indian Spot Billed Ducks of Kabini
The Indian Spot Billed Ducks of Kabini

Usually found in flocks and walking in a disciplined line 😉 I felt as if I were watching one of those Tom and Jerry cartoons where the ducklings waddle into water and swim behind their mom!

Raptors in Kabini

Eagles of Kabini

The Crested Serpent Eagle - found during a land safari in Kabini
The Crested Serpent Eagle – found during a land safari in Kabini

The common eagles that you can spot when bird watching in Kabini include the Crested serpent eagle, the hawk eagle and the fishing eagle. Keep an eye out for them throughout your safaris – both land and boat.

Ospreys

Osprey landing in Kabini
Osprey landing in Kabini

Ospreys can be spotted almost anywhere in Kabini. My personal favorite is during the boat safari in Kabini when you can see them hunting and even perching with their prey.

The tiny birds of Kabini

Tons and tons of tiny birds in and around the Kabini forest. I have already introduced you to some of them in my color challenge. These birds are best spotted when on a nature trail as they are super tiny. Sharing a few that I caught through my camera.

Indian silverbills

The Indian Silverbill - one of the tiny birds of Kabini
The Indian Silverbill – one of the tiny birds of Kabini

Found them in the fields along with the Red munias. They are recognized by the silver sheen on their beaks.

Scaly Breasted Munias

The scales on the underbelly give it the name - Scaly breasted Munias
The scales on the underbelly give it the name – Scaly breasted Munias

These tiny winged beauties are generally in flocks in the same fields that are visited by the silverbills and the red munias. You can identify them by their scaly brown bellies

Tri-colored Munias & White-rumped Munias

The White rumped or the Tricolored Munia
The White rumped or the Tricolored Munia

One look at them and you know how to identify them. These are also, found in fields, eating seeds.

Long Tailed Shrike

Long tailed shrike - one of the birds of Kabini
Long tailed shrike – one of the birds of Kabini

A delightful find, again close to the green pastures of Kabini. I loved their white coat and long tail.

The other bird that I would have loved to capture and missed it by a fraction of seconds would be the Paradise flycatchers. The white coat with long ribbon like tails that fly behind them as if they were kites. Stunning!

Pied Bushchats

The tiny birds of Kabini - Male Pied Bushchat
The tiny birds of Kabini – Male Pied Bushchat

Do not dismiss them as regular sparrows. They are a little bigger than them and are often found near fences. I have always noticed that the male and female species are almost close to each other. The female is brown in color while the male is typically black.

Female pied bushchat
Female pied bushchat

Migratory birds of Kabini

Wooly necked stork

The Wooly necked stork
The Wooly necked stork

He might seem plain when you compare him to the Painted storks. But he sure is fascinating when you look at him in isolation. Try and catch them in flight – the way they fold their legs and spread their large wings to glide over water!

Bar Headed Geese

The migratory Bar Headed Geese seen on a safari by boat in Kabini
The migratory Bar Headed Geese seen on a safari by boat in Kabini

These creatures were special as I saw them from the first time. I believe they fly all the way from Russia and Mongolia. I could so relate to their free-spirit. Definitely one of the key birds of Kabini that you should look out for.

Other Native Birds of Kabini

Drongos

They might seem like Ravens but it is their forked tails that will immediately identify them as Drongos. Pretty common in the forest and also in the buffer zones.

Drongo - The forked tail makes it easy to identify this among the birds of Kabini
Drongo – The forked tail makes it easy to identify this among the birds of Kabini

You are also, likely to spot the Racket-tailed drongos that have these kite-like tails that fly like ribbons behind them.

Malabar Pied Hornbills

Malabar Pied Hornbill - a delight for birders in Kabini
Malabar Pied Hornbill – a delight for birders in Kabini

Watch out for their unique yellow capes and beaks. These guys are a true delight for people out on birding in Kabini.

A couple of captures that during my bird watching in Kabini include –

  • Spotted Owls
  • Streak throated Woodpecker
  • Indian Rollers

What I have shared so far are just the ones that I have spotted during my bird watching in Kabini. I am sure that you might spot these and many many more. Birding in Kabini is truly a delightful activity for all nature and wildlife enthusiasts. So go on, and start planning your Kabini birdwatching trip. Pin this and share it around.

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How to get to Kabini?

The closest airport might by Mysore airport but the frequency of flights here does not make it a good option for Kabini. It is better to opt for Bangalore international airport, if you plan to fly down for Kabini.

From Bangalore airport, you can either take a train to Mysore and then drive to Kabini or directly hire a cab to Kabini. The distance between Bangalore and Kabini is around 230 km and the roads are pretty good.

Where to stay in Kabini?

There are a lot of resorts in Kabini that offer you a very comfortable stay. These can be booked online through the links given in the Booking resources section below.

Note that they are not budget resorts but luxury or mid-luxury ones. Most of them offer you packages that include stays, nature trails and food.

Here is a complete guide to Kabini Safaris. The post tells you the various options, how to book and where to stay. You might find it useful when planning your trip to Kabini.

 

Where can I go birding in Kabini?

There are two ways that you can experience bird-watching in Kabini. The first are the nature trails offered by various resorts. You can do one yourself as well by walking along the Kabini river, but I would recommend an organized one with a naturalist who can help identify the common birds. These naturalists also, know the haunts of some of the rare birds like Owls.

The second way to do birding in Kabini is with the boat safari that is offered by the forest officials. The boat safaris take place twice every day – one in the morning and the other post noon. The safari takes you along Kabini river. A naturalist accompanies each boat and helps you spot various birds and animals along the river and its banks.

Can I see birds when I go on a Kabini Safari?

The Kabini boat safari is the best when it comes to finding birds on a safari. This is because it takes you along the river frequented by the winged beauties.

The land safari takes you through the forests and the dense canopies makes it difficult for you to see any birds. The most you can see are eagles and ospreys.

What do I need for a good Kabini birding experience?

– Binoculars
– Photographers would need telephoto lens. A good one would be 100 – 400 mm lens
– Flat shoes and subtle colored clothes
– A Birding Book or Plates to help identify the various birds
I highly recommend the services of a Kabini naturalist who not only will help you spot and identify the birds but will know where exactly some of these species breed and nest.

What is a best time for bird watching in Kabini?

The best season to go birding in Kabini starts in December and continues till February. This is when you can see the migratory species. The rest of the year, except monsoons is also, good for birdwatching in Kabini. Just that you might not see the visiting birds.

Early mornings and early evenings is the best time for bird watching in Kabini. You can opt for a nature walk by Kabini reservoir at any of these times but if you are going for a boat safari, I recommend the post-noon one. This is to avoid the morning mist and fog that might obscure your vision.

Booking resources

  •  Booking.com is a good website where you can book your Kabini stay. They generally have an option where you can book without paying an advance. 
  • Another website that I recommend for Kabini stays is Tripadvisor. You can use this link to book your stay through their various partners.
  • Klook.com has a few options to help you with car transfers between Bangalore and Kabini.
  • For any of your travel-related accessories or needs from Amazon, do use this link to get to the website or the app and buy yours. I highly recommend the Book called Birds of Indian Subcontinent for any birding trip in India. 
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.
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  1. Ruchi

    I can relate so much to your post. One of my favourite destinations in India is Kabini and I loved the birdwatching experience when I visited 4 years back. Kingfishers are quite common to spot but my excitement knew no bounds when I spotted hornbills and snake birds.

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