Nepal is a bird watcher's paradise with 873 species (10% of the world total) of birds. Among them, almost 500 are found in the Kathmandu Valley alone. It is also home to the Spiny Babbler, an endemic species, which was thought to have been extinct until it was rediscovered in Nepal in 1946. A large population of birds is divided between Chitwan and Kosi Tappu. Vultures like the Lammergeiers are found in very high altitudes in the Himalayas. An eagle was found at an altitude of 26,000ft by an Everest expedition. A large number of migratory birds can be found in Nepal which come from as far as Siberia during winter.
The hills of the Kathmandu valley offer a varied ecology ranging from primary and secondary forest to rhododendron, oak and pine forest. In addition, the wetlands and open fields inside the valley make up a diverse habitat for many species of birds. The most popular bird watching spot is the Phulchoki hill; the highest peak of the valley rim situated 20 km southeast of Kathmandu, with some 265 species recorded till date.
The birds seen here include babblers, warblers, tits, thrushes, minivans, woodpeckers, eagles and many migrant birds. Godavari, at the foot of Phulchoki hill where the Royal Botanical Garden is situated, records over 100 species of birds including the lesser racket-tailed Drongo, Tibetan sishin and the spotted fork tail. Bird watching starts right from the capital, Kathmandu itself and here, Phulchowki is an important location.
Shivapuri National Park is an exciting location for birdwatching. Nagarjun Royal Forest on Jamacho hill is on the way to Kakani from Balaju. It delights bird enthusiasts with blue magpies, Kalij pheasants, Boneili's eagles, Great Himalayan barbets an other exotic birds.
As for the wetlands in the valley, the banks of the Manohara river on the way to Bhaktapur, and the Bagmati river, which flows in to the valley from Shivapuri hill and out through Chobhar Gorge, are good place fro watching Waders and Waterfowls, Harbouring 40 species of birds mostly dependent on wetlands, Taudha, a lake on the way to Dakshinkali, attracts flocks of migrant birds.
The most popular birds watching spots in Kathmandu are Phulichoki, Godavari, Nagarjun, Bagmati River, Taudaha, Shivapuri (North area of Kathmandu) and so on.
Chitwan National Park
Royal Chitwan National Park is justifiably a popular destination for visiting birdwatchers. Its wide range of forest, wetland and grassland habitats, hills and lowlands support a greater variety of bird species than is found in the rest of Nepal's protected areas. Around 530 species have been recorded to date.
The park has a mix of forest, grassland and wetland habitats. Highlights included Slender-billed Babbler (Chitwan is the only Nepal site for this species) and Grey-crowned Prinia and Pale-footed Bush Warbler which are rare in Nepal outside Chitwan.
The foothills of Pokhara is home to roughly 400 species of birds, migratory and non-migratory, breeding and non-breeding. During the spring you can see a variety of migratory and breeding birds. Birds that can be seen include bessa, red-thighed falconet, pale harriers, forksails, many different laughing thrush, hill partridge, warblers, green magpie, yellow and red billed magpie, maroon oriole, white and grey bulbuls, flycatchers, bearded vultures, griffon vultures, Himalayan griffon, black eagle, golden eagle, woodpeckers, re-vented bulbul, kestrels, falcons, flower-peckers, swallows, swifts, blackbirds and sunbirds.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is Nepal's only Ramsar Site and must surely be one of the best wetlands in Asia for birds. Over 460 species have been recorded, including 16 globally threatened species. Bristled Grassbirds, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Yellow and Cinnamon Bitterns, Blunt-winged and Thick-billed Warblers are found in the surrounding marshes. A Red-necked Falcon can be found hunting small birds in the mornings and Pied Harriers regularly flying over the camp to and from roost. A rafting trip on the river is quite rewarding where species included Spot-billed Pelican, Pallid Harrier and Black-necked Stork, walks in riverine forest.