Migratory Birds Visit Nepal

As Nepal heads into its summer months, birding enthusiasts will no doubt be on the lookout for migratory species that travel to the country to breed. Up to thirty-four species visit Nepal each year, with Chitwan National Park and Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve being among the favored spots for birds to spend the summer, joining the more than 860 bird species that are permanent residents in the country. As a Ramsar site, Koshi Tappu offers wetland habitat for waterfowl, while Chitwan is renowned for its abundance of forest-loving birds. Some birds migrate to escape the cold conditions of their native habitats, while others visit Nepal in search of abundant food supplies and to escape competition for resources in their country of origin.

The Chestnut-headed Bee-eater has traditionally been among the earliest arrivals in Nepal, usually being spotted in early March. As its name suggests, this beautifully colored bird’s preferred food is bees, but it will eat wasps, hornets and other insects, catching its prey in flight. Bee-eaters originate from the Indian Subcontinent, migrating to Nepal to breed. They are very social birds which lay their five or six eggs in tunnels in a river bank. They nest and feed communally and both the male and female incubate the eggs and care for their young.

The Asian Paradise Flycatcher is known to arrive early in the spring, the exceptionally long central tail feathers of the males making them relatively easy to identify. There are a number of subspecies, with different coloring providing clues to where they originate from. These busy, noisy little birds share the burden of nesting, incubation, brooding and feeding of their young equally between male and female in a monogamous relationship.

Covering the longest distance of all the migratory visitors in Nepal, the Pied Cuckoo travels more than 5,000 km one-way from its home in Sub-Saharan Africa. As with all cuckoo species, Pied Cuckoos are brood parasites that remove another bird’s egg from a nest and lay one to replace it. The hard work of incubation, brooding and feeding of the young cuckoo is then carried out by the host birds, often to the detriment of the rightful nestlings.

Certainly Nepal is home to a host of fascinating birds, with migratory species adding to the mix, making this exotic mountainous country a popular destination for birding enthusiasts.