About 72 % of Bhutan’s landscape is covered with vegetation. And these rich, diverse forest reservoirs are home to many forms of lives, the one among the many are the avifauna that thrives and pulsates in merrier ways in this ecosystem. Unlike the other Himalayas nation, largely conservation efforts of this vegetation and religious belief of non-violence to an extent of looking upon as a means of reverence and divine manifestation contributes to their growths.For instance Raven & Black Neck Crane. No wonder, Bhutan is identified as one of 10th biodiversity hotspot in the world. And also identified as centre of 221 endemic bird areas. As many as 770 species of varied avifauna are recorded and many more are yet to be discovered. This makes Birding in Bhutan an exciting prospect.
For birding region or zone, there are many ways it can be classified but based on habitats and climatic zones, vegetation in context to birding tour map line appears more suitable. Following are the two categories.
1. Warm Broad Leaves sub Tropical/ tropical regions bordering India
Sub -tropical belt fall mainly in mid south region of Bhutan except Punakha in the west with the vegetation
consisting of broad leaves. Places like Semgang,Tingtingbitti, Yongola, Trongsa, Yonkola, Dewathang, Mongar, Trashigang are considered the bedrock of birding in Bhutan. Varied birds flutter and spread their wings. Warm, moist and broad leaves thick forests play perfect measures for the bird to thrive on these conditions. Birds that are found are Scarlet Finch, Black Drongo, Chestnut bellied Nuthatch, Slaty backed Forktail, Gorgeted Flycatcher, White throated Laughing thrust, Eurasian Jay, Wedge Tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Verditer Flycatcher, Himalayan monal, satyr Tragopan, blood pheasant, Parrotbills in bamboo forests. Striated Bulbul, common Kestrel, Spot-winged Grosbeak, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Whiskered Yuhina, Wall Creeper, Himalayan Swiftlet, Maroon Oriole, Racket tailed Drongo, Red headed Trogon, sultan tit, Grey Nightjar, Hill Prinia, Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Great hornbill, Beautiful Rosefinch, Gold-naped Finch, little Forktail, White capped Redstart, Chestnut bellied Rock Thrust, Coal Tit, Green-tailed Sunbird, Longtailed Minivet,
2. Cool broad leaves temperate and conifer of alpine region
Regions surrounding Thimphu, Paro, Bumthang valleys can be categorized as temperate belt based on climate condition, vegetation and altitude. And high mountain passes that mark the segregation of adjoining valley can be put under alpine belt based on its altitude and vegetation of oak, conifer and rhododendron. Mainly Chelela Pass, Docula Pass, Pele la Pass, Thrumshing la Pass, some specific and rare birds adds beauty to its natural ambience. Some of birds that are found are Satyr Tragopan, Spotted Nutcracker, Large Hawk Cuckoo, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Yellow billed Magpie, Chest Tailed Minla, Collard Blackbird, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Brown Bullfinch, Kalij pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Himalayan monal.
The birds found in temperate region -Thimphu, Paro, Gangtey and Bumthang areas are Black faced laughing thrush, brown dipper, spotted laughing thrush, Fire capped Tit,Scarlet Finch, Black Drongo, Chestnut bellied Nuthatch, Slaty backed Forktail, Gorgeted Flycatcher, White throated Laughingthrust, Eurasian Jay, Wedge Tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Verditer Flycatcher, As such birding in Bhutan can be done throughout the year, however lowland or subtropical belt especially in mid south region during summer can be hot, with reasonably wet monsoon and with overgrowth vegetation, it can be challenging. For the cross-country birding, ideal month is from Sept to March. In contrast, owing reason to favourable climate, birding in western Bhutan like Thimphu, Paro and Punakha, Haa are done throughout the year.
It’s worth to note that most likely period for greater sighting of birds is during there mating season, which is from March to May. During these periods birds are highly active, and responds to the calls easily, it is seen that male birds change into beautiful colours to entice the female for mating. Sometime it is also seen to be aggressive yet beautiful.