Birdwatching near Agra

Indian Skimmer, Chambal River
Indian Skimmer, Chambal River

There are several destinations in and around Agra ideal for watching birds (and other wildlife) in their natural habitat. Yes, there is more to Agra than just the Taj Mahal. Agra definitely falls in the migratory route of several birds as I often see flocks of geese and demoiselle cranes fly over my house before the onset of winter. 


White-tailed Lapwing
White-tailed Lapwing

Birdwatching in and around Agra can be a lot of fun and a great option for those of you looking to go beyond the Taj. You will need to be with a local guide to visit some of these places as getting to the exact locations, timings, safety, bird reports are not available online or the information is not updated regularly. I am happy to take you to these places on your next visit to Agra. 

birds of bharatpur
Marsh Harrier, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

As an avid birdwatcher and wildlife enthusiast, I make it a point to visit the known and lesser bird-watching destinations in and around Agra on a regular basis. Some of the places that my friends and I visit include:
  • Kheetam Jheel or Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary: one hour from Agra going towards Mathura on the old Agra - Delhi highway. During the walk through the forest and around the lake you can see pelicans, migratory birds, raptors, pythons, jackals and nil gai. There is an entry fee to visit the Park. Vehicles are allowed too. No guides are available so you have to explore the sanctuary on your own. There are no hotels near the sanctuary, you should stay in Agra and hire a taxi to drive you there.
Sarus Cranes in Bharatpur
Sarus Cranes, Bharatpur
  • Keoladeo National Park: one hour from Agra going towards Jaipur is the world famous pedestrian friendly Keoladeo National Park or Ghana so called by locals in Bharatpur. Besides hundreds of birds there are you can also see deer, jackals, turtles, hyena and reptiles. You can rent rickshaws, bicycles, a golf cart or simply walk the park to see the wildlife. There are several hotels within walking distance from the National Park, advance bookings are highly recommended.
Jodhpur jhal near agra
Barn Owl
  • Jodhpur Jhal - a water catchment created by the Irrigation department near the village of Jodhpur, on the opposite side of Kheetam Jheel. Migratory birds are plenty during the season and it's also a great place to see sarus cranes, owls and raptors. The drive to Jodhpur Jhal is through cultivated farmlands which is prime habitat for the above bird species.
Birding in Dholpur
Plum headed Parakeet
  • Bari & Dholpur: On the way from Dholpur to Karauli are several wetlands which are great for bird watching. Pelicans in the hundreds, flamingoes, ducks, geese, sarus cranes, common crane and raptors such as osprey, marsh harrier, black winged kite are plenty. Mammals seen include jungle cat, deer, jackal, sloth bear and leopards (nocturnal).
Patna bird sanctuary
Black-necked Stork with Catfish
  • Patna Bird Sanctuary: 1.5 hours from Agra going towards Avagarh is a small but lesser known bird sanctuary called Patna (not to be confused with the city Patna in Bihar). 
birds of chambal
Red Crested Pochard, Chambal River Safari
  • Chambal River Safari in Dholpur Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh border (upstream) and Bah, Uttar Pradesh (downstream) both between 01 to 1.5 hour drive from Agra. I can arrange and guide you on during the river safari where you can see not only migratory birds such as Indian Skimmer, geese, eurasian thick-knee, terns, raptors but also crocodiles, gharial (fish eating crocodiles), eight species of turtles and if you're really lucky even a Gangetic river dolphin.
owls in bharatpur
Indian Scops Owls, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Birding in and around Agra is very rewarding during the migratory season or winter (November to early March) months. Besides Keoladeo in Bharatpur, most of the other birdwatching destinations mentioned above are not on the birder's itinerary so you can expect to have quality time with your birds. Due to foggy conditions, you may need to have some flexibility in your travel plans. 


Bayana vultures
Indian or Long billed Vulture
  • Bayana: Ideal for those of you keen to see vultures (Indian, griffon, king and slender billed) and other raptors. These vultures have found a new home on the safe and steady rocky ledges of small hills in this small historic town between Bharatpur and Karauli. Nearest place to stay is Bharatpur. Ideal for a day trip. 
Sarus Crane
Sarus Crane

All the above locations are accessible by road and a car and local driver is essential for visiting some of these places. Please get in touch, should you have any questions or would like to visit these places.

birds of chambal
Osprey and in the foreground Gharial Crocodile, Chambal River

Please Note:
  • There is no guarantee that you will see the above wildlife. The river and / or sanctuary is their habitat and sightings depend on water level in the river, human interference, climatic conditions, weather and other factors, migratory pattern of birds, most of which are beyond your and my control. I will do my best to show you all there is to see. 
  • What to carry: photo identification, camera, binoculars, warm jacket (in the winter), backpack, sun glasses, cap, vizier, sun block, some cash, drinking water.
  • Smoking and drinking alcohol is strictly not permitted in National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • Please do not throw trash on the floor even if you don't see a trash can. Please ask me and I help to dispose it off properly.
  • To prevent any disturbance to wildlife, I do not permit the use of any call playback to attract birds, feeding or baiting of wildlife. Despite this, if you do and are caught by the authorities or called out by locals or fellow wildlife enthusiasts, then you are entirely on your own - embarrassment, fines and other penalties as per the local laws governing national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are to be borne by you.

For any questions on bird-watching in and around Agra or how to make the most of your time in Agra, contact kunal@totravelwith.com or call / whatsapp +919717148483.