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Important Birding Locations In Tamil Nadu 

Tamil Nadu is probably the most rewarding birding destination among all the southern Indian states, especially for beginners. The mighty western ghats (Nilgiris), semi-arid forests in the midlands, and vast coastal lines of the state all provide excellent birding opportunities. It is estimated that Tamil Nadu is home to about 500 species of birds, of which 100 are vagrants.

Based on my personal experience, I have chosen the five most important birding locations in Tamil Nadu. However, the state’s large size may entail long travel to reach a few places

1. Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary.

Elevation: Sea level

Pulicat is a large brackish water lake bordering Andra Pradesh’s Nellore district in Tamil Nadu’s Tirupathi district. The 60-kilometre drive to the bird sanctuary from Chennai International Airport can take about 1.5-2 hours.  You may rent a boat to travel through the lake to see the “flamboyance” of Flamingos and “pods” of Pelicans, many ducks and other aquatic species around the lake. “Birding walks” through the long beaches of Pulicat are also highly recommended, as you may see many migrant birds there during winter.

The best time to visit the lake for birding is from November to March.

Best and Breakfast Accommodations Near Pulicat Bird Sanctuary

2. Coimbatore Birding Area

Elevation: 441 m

Coimbatore is an industrial city right in the base of the western ghats. There are many easy ways to get from Chennai to Coimbatore by train, bus, or plane. Birders use this city as a starting point to travel to the western ghats and birding centres like Ooty and Masangudi.

Spending at least a day in Coimbatore looking for dry grassland birds is worthwhile. I recommend Kalangal village and surrounding areas for Indian Eagle Owl, Indian Curser, Silver-bills, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, and other birds.

Bed & Breakfast Accommodations in Coimbatore Birding Area

3. Birds of Ooty & Birding Areas In Nilgiris

Elevation: 2000-2637 m

A three-hour drive from Coimbatore will take you to Ooty, the Nigiri district’s headquarters of Tamil Nadu. It is an EBA (Endemic Bird Area) and probably the most important location in Tamil Nadu. This colonial-era hill station is now a vibrant holiday destination in South India. I recommend spending at least three full days exploring birding locations in and around Ooty.

Western ghats are the most critical endemic birding locations in India. Out of the 50 Indian endemics, 29 belong to the Western ghats. A vast majority of them can be seen in the Nilgiris. I have selected the four best birding locations in Nilgiris to explore.

a. Botanical Gardens, Ooty

The governor’s botanical garden, located in the heart of Ooty, is popular among morning walkers and tourists. A short visit early in the morning to this 55-acre botanical garden may get you many “Nilgiri” branded western ghats endemics. It appears to be a good place to see various warblers and flycatchers.

b. Dhodabetta, Ooty

Dodabetta is the highest point (2637 meters) of Ooty. The road to the top is surrounded by pine forests full of birds. Nigiri fletchers, Nilgiri Blue Robins, and laughing thrusts are common in the parking lot. The forest area is good for Nilgiri wood pigeons and the hill myna. In the forest around Dodabetta, rare visitors like a handsome Eurasian woodcock have been spotted.

Best Bed & Breakfast Accommodations in Ooty for Adventure Travellers.


c. SIMS Park, Coonoor

The Sims Park in Coonoor, Ooty’s neighbouring town, is a must-visit place for birders and photographers alike. Because it is a public park, crowding is likely on weekends and afternoons. I recommend you go to the park as soon as it opens at 8 a.m. This area is good for Black and orange flycatchers, Blue bearded flycatchers, Scimitar babblers, Indian robins, Hoopoes, and other birds.

d. Avalanche National Park

The Avalanche is about 22 kilometres away from Ooty. The main attraction here is Avalanche lake and surrounded by hills and forests. It supports a healthy population of Asiatic Elephants, Guar, Deers, and a diverse range of endemic and non-endemic birds. Tigers are uncommon in this region. Migratory Kashiri flycatchers have been spotted here. The park administration organises trekking trips. It is worthwhile to take a trip to Avalanche if you are going there to enjoy nature in general rather than just for birds.

4. Masinagudi Birding Area

Elevation: 950 m

Masinangudi is a wildlife sanctuary located 30 kilometres away from Ooty. Because it is located at a lower elevation than Ooty, the avian life you will encounter here is very different. Hence, it is a natural itinerary extension for a visiting birder because it is only a short drive down the hill. I recommend spending a day there to see the endemic white-bellied minivet and other lowland birds. The key attractions in Masangui are white-bellied minivets, Malabar larks and various species of owls.

Best Bed & Breakfast Accommodations in Masanagudi
Watch Video: Birds & Wildlife of India