Thattekad Bird Sanctuary: A Paradise for Bird Lovers in the Heart of Kerala

Kerala, aptly named “God’s Own Country,” is a nature lover’s paradise, boasting a rich tapestry of landscapes, from serene backwaters to lush green forests. Among its many natural treasures is the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, a haven for bird enthusiasts and wildlife aficionados. Nestled in the Ernakulam district, this sanctuary is a testament to the incredible biodiversity that thrives in the region and holds a special place in the history of Indian ornithology due to its association with the legendary ornithologist, Dr. Salim Ali.

Dr. Salim Ali, often referred to as the “Birdman of India,” played a crucial role in the establishment and recognition of Thattekad as a bird sanctuary. In the 1930s, Dr. Ali visited the area and was astounded by the incredible diversity of bird species he encountered. He documented his findings and advocated for the protection of this unique habitat. His efforts led to the declaration of Thattekad as a bird sanctuary in 1983, ensuring the conservation of this avian paradise for future generations.

The sanctuary, which spans an area of 25 square kms, is situated along the banks of the Periyar River. The terrain is characterized by undulating hills, rocky outcrops, and dense forests, creating a diverse range of habitats for various species. The sanctuary is primarily composed of tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, interspersed with deciduous patches. This unique blend of flora supports an astonishing variety of avian life, making Thattekad one of the most sought-after bird watching destinations in South India.

One of the most striking features of Thattekad is its incredible bird diversity. The sanctuary is home to over 320 species of birds, including both resident and migratory species. Bird enthusiasts can expect to see a wide array of species, ranging from the majestic Great Hornbill to the elusive Ceylon Frogmouth. The Malabar Grey Hornbill, with its distinctive casque and large size, is a common sight in the sanctuary. Other hornbill species found here include the Malabar Pied Hornbill and the Indian Grey Hornbill.

The sanctuary is also a haven for several endemic bird species, such as the Malabar Parakeet, the Wynaad Laughingthrush, and the Nilgiri Flycatcher. These species are found nowhere else in the world, making Thattekad a crucial site for their conservation. Other notable birds that can be spotted here include the White-bellied Treepie, the Crimson-backed Sunbird, the Malabar Trogon, the Malabar Whistling Thrush, and the Sri Lanka Frogmouth.

Apart from its avian inhabitants, Thattekad is also home to a diverse array of other fauna. The sanctuary supports several species of mammals, including elephants, leopards, wild boars, and various species of deer. The Periyar River, which flows through the sanctuary, is home to several species of fish, including the Mahseer, a popular game fish. The sanctuary also hosts a variety of reptiles, amphibians, and insects, each playing a crucial role in the ecosystem.

For those looking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Thattekad, there are several accommodation options available nearby. The Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) operates a tourist bungalow within the sanctuary premises, offering comfortable stays amidst nature. Additionally, there are several eco-friendly resorts and homestays in the vicinity that provide a unique opportunity to experience the local culture and hospitality while being surrounded by the sights and sounds of the forest.


To make the most of your visit to Kerala, it is recommended to combine your trip to Thattekad with other nature-centric destinations in the state. Kerala is blessed with an abundance of natural wonders, each offering a unique experience. The Silent Valley National Park, located in the Palakkad district, is a biodiversity hotspot known for its rare and endangered species, including the lion-tailed macaque and the Nilgiri tahr. The Periyar National Park, situated in the Idukki district, is famous for its elephant and tiger populations and offers various activities such as boat rides, nature walks, and bamboo rafting.

For a more serene and relaxing experience, visitors can head to the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake. This sanctuary is known for its diverse bird population and offers a peaceful setting for birdwatching and nature walks. The backwaters of Kerala, with their tranquil waters and lush green surroundings, provide a perfect backdrop for a leisurely houseboat cruise, allowing visitors to soak in the beauty of the region at a gentle pace.

For those seeking a more immersive nature experience, Kerala offers several trekking and hiking trails through its lush forests and hills. The Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, runs through the state and is home to several endemic species of flora and fauna. Trekking through these trails offers a chance to spot rare species and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary is a microcosm of the incredible natural beauty that Kerala has to offer. With its diverse avian population, lush forests, and stunning landscapes, the sanctuary is a must-visit destination for bird lovers and nature enthusiasts. However, Kerala’s appeal extends far beyond Thattekad, with its numerous national parks, backwaters, cultural attractions, and culinary delights. A visit to Kerala is an opportunity to immerse oneself in the beauty of nature, the richness of culture, and the warmth of its people. Whether you are a bird watcher, a nature lover, a culture vulture, or a foodie, Kerala has something to offer everyone. So, pack your bags, grab your binoculars, and embark on a journey to discover the magic of God’s Own Country, starting with the enchanting Thattekad Bird Sanctuary.