There are a lot many things Dooars is known for. Dooars has dense forests rich in wildlife and lush green tea gardens. It also has babbling rivers and beautiful hills on the horizon. But the spectacular avian diversity here is something entirely different. Out of the roughly 1350 species of birds in India, 1250 species reside in Dooars itself or migrate to it in winter. The terai vegetation of Dooars with the numerous rivers, wetlands, hilly areas and tea gardens make an ideal habitat for the hundreds of species of birds. All you need is a pair of binoculars, your camera, and a good guide for an amazing birding trip here in Dooars.
Best places to find the most popular and rare birds:
From Siliguri in the west to Buxa in the east, the 150 km stretch of dense evergreen moist deciduous Himalayan foothills are home to some of the most sought-after birds in the world. The numerous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Dooars feature an amazing avian diversity.
Birds found in Dooars:
Many places in Dooars are a bird watcher’s paradise for both resident and migratory birds. Some of the birds spotted in the area include Scarlet Minivet, Rufous-vented Yuhina, Stripe-throated Yuhina, Whiskered Yuhina, Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Red-tailed Minla, Himalayan Cutia, Great Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Rufous-necked Hornbill, White-eyed Pochard, Common Teal, Lesser Whistling Teal, Northern Shoveler, Bronze-winged Jacana, Collared Falconet, Golden Headed Black Finch, Khalij Pheasant, Rufous-throated Partridge, Satyr Tragopan, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Bay Woodpecker, Golden-throated Barbet, Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo, Lesser Cuckoo, Brown Wood Owl, Ashy Wood Pigeon, etc.
Out of the 9 species of Hornbills in India, 4 types are found in Dooars namely Great Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, and Rufous-necked Hornbill. The Great Hornbill is the largest among Asian hornbills and can consume as many as 150 figs during one meal. It is said that the wing beat of a great hornbill can be heard more than a half-mile away.
The Oriental Pied Hornbill is social and noisy with a cackling call. It is more tolerant of human habitation than other hornbills and can sometimes be found in large city parks as well as open forests and edges. All juvenile Wreathed Hornbill look like males, females change their colouration after 1-2 years. These species are omnivorous, feeding on fruit, small reptiles, frogs, crabs and insects. The Rufous-necked Hornbill is the longest-bodied species of hornbills and is called Lal Galla Dhanesh in Bengali. These are Vulnerable species as they are often hunted for food, beak and feathers.
Scarlet Minivets are a common sight in the forests of Dooars. The male minivet is scarlet to orange with black upperparts, while the female minivets are usually yellow with greyish olive upperparts. They are smart Insect hunters and are often mentioned as the ‘birds of the paradise’ because of their sweet song, glossy plumage and dazzling collage of colors they sport.
Sunbirds are non-migratory birds (sedentary birds). They reside in the same habitats all year round and travel short distances toward the areas that provide more food. Their songs consist of rattles and metallic-sounding notes and they usually move around in pairs. The rare Crimson Sunbird is only 11 cm long.
Woodpeckers are a known bird even in cities and very popular sight in Dooars. They mostly nest and roost in holes that they excavate in tree trunks, and their abandoned holes are of importance to other cavity-nesting birds. More than five species of woodpeckers can be spotted in Dooars. The Common Flameback woodpecker is known to adapt well in human-modified habitats making use of artificial constructions, fallen fruits and even food scraps.
Flycatchers are one of the most diverse avian families in the world with over 400 species. The Taiga Flycatcher is a much sought-after bird in the region and known for its habit of rapidly flicking its tail upward. The most beautiful of the species is the Paradise flycatchers which inhabit thick forests and well-wooded areas. Their beautiful crowns and long tails mesmerize bird lovers across the world.
Drongos are known for their aggressive behaviour towards much larger birds, such as crows, never hesitating to dive-bomb any bird of prey that invades its territory. This behaviour led to their former name of king crow. The Greater Racket-tailed Drongo is amazing at vocal imitations and uses vocal mimicry to divert the attention of smaller birds so that they can steal insect prey caught or disturbed by those smaller birds.
Best time for birding:
The forests of Dooars are so dense and rich in vegetation that birdwatching can be experienced at any time of the year. But the best time for Birdwatching in the national parks and forests of Dooars is from October to April.
Also, during the monsoon, the forests are closed for tourists and so Birding stays closed during the months of Mid-June to Mid-September.