Introduction to Birds

Bird checklist of Khangchendzonga National Park and its Areas


Birds are feathered bipeds, warm-blooded vertebrates; also described as glorified reptiles with adoptive features like stream shaped body, forewing modified in feathered wings, strong flight muscles and light body. Birds, more than any other form of life, have long enamoured the human mind either as a game bird or as an indicator of dawn since time immemorial. Among the 8000 known species of birds worldwide, more than 1200 species uses Indian subcontinent as their feeding and breeding habitat. The Eastern Himalaya is a paradise for variety of life forms viz. orchids, trees, rhododendrons, mammals and reptiles. Among them, birds too showed a wide variations ranging from Tickle’s warblers (slightly bigger than a thumb) to Bearded Vultures (8 ft. wingspread) in different habitats representing temperate forests to alpine meadow.


Why to study birds?

It has been said that birds could exist without man but that man would perish without birds. This is quite true as they help the human kind in different ways. Birds (insectivores) are one of the most effective biological pest controllers that help [us in our agricultural farmlands; a natural remedies for many diseases as they feed on mice and rats (a media for many fatal diseases); as seed disperser; as food for human kind and more importantly as ecological indicators. In recent years, birds are widely used as predictor for habitat quality assessment, which surrogates other biological diversity.

Observation Techniques:

Birds are highly sensitive organisms and slight disturbance may make them fly away leading bird watchers in wonder. To be a bird watcher dedication, interest and patience are the prime need that should be developed within the observer. One may have to spend hours to identify and confirm one single bird species. A concise and good field guidebook is very important in identifying birds in the field. As a gist of primary factors it is advice to pay attentuion to the following hints:

1. Know general features, habitat and other ecological parameters of birds.

2. Have a basic knowledge of classification to enhance the power of identification instantly.

3. Avoid colourful dress as it disturbs birds normal behaviour.

4. Be cool and calm to observe all the basic characters and behaviour.

5. Be cool and calm to observe all the basic characters and behaviour.

6. Try to identify as much identifying characters as possible refereeing to their shape, size, color, beak, tail feet, wings etc.

7. Avoid large company. It is wise to be in two to discuss the characters and for better confirmation in identification.

8. Go to field either early in the morning (5.30 – 10.00) hrs or evening (16.00 – 19.00 hrs).

9. Use good binoculars as mentioned in “Equipments” in this section.


How to recognize bird in the field?

One of the most important aspects of ornithological studies is the identification of species. This is true in mammalian field studies as well. But unlike mammals, different species of birds which look very similar can frequently occur in the same area e.g. Plover spp., Sandpiper spp. And Pigeon spp. Therefore careful identification of species is the first important step in the field study of bird.

Look at the birds for what it is rather than what you would want it to be. A thorough observation on shape, size, color, beak, feet, feather and flight pattern are prerequisite in identification of species. Birds have different identifying characters in their body. The shape and size of bills are another marking for identification. Presence or crest, types of legs and the color too help identification of birds.

Bird checklist of Khangchendzonga National Park and its Areas

Source: Nakul Chettri KCC(2000b), Khangchendzonga Biodiversity Handbook, Khangchendzonga Conservation Committee, Yuksam, West Sikkim