The serene ambiance, picturesque landscape and habitable environment make Kashmir a great habitat for many avian species including migratory birds. There are about 262 species of birds that inhabit the alpine and temperate region of the valley, thus making Kashmir an apt place for bird watching.
Bird watching in Kashmir is an exceptional experience, as apart from several common species of birds, Kashmir is also a home to some rare species like Piedfisher bird, Bar Headed geese, Ibis bill, Falcon, Black Necked Crane, Yellow billed magpie and European blue whistling Thrush Vulture. Along with the mountainous regions, lakes and riversides form the natural habitat for these birds. Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonmarg are considered to be among the best destinations in the Kashmir bird watching tour. The capital city Srinagar is also a host to many migratory birds from Siberia and Central Asia; the Hokarsar and Anchar are its two prime wetlands offering refuge to these migrants.
Located approximately 14 kms from Srinagar, Hokarsar is a marshy land, which draws several migratory birds and bird watcher each year. The best time for bird watching in Kashmir is between September and October, when a large number of migratory ducks and birds make Hokarsar their temporary home. A large variety of ducks including Brahminy Duck, Tufted Duck, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Gadwall and Northern Pintail can be spotted here.
Dachigam wildlife sanctuary is another excellent venue for the bird watchers. Located about 20 kms from Srinagar, this wildlife sanctuary boasts of about 150 species of birds. It is a known habitat for birds like golden oriole, peregrine falcon, koklas, black bulbul, kestrel, golden eagle, grey heron, paradise flycatcher, griffon vulture, monal, etc. The best time to go birding in this sanctuary is between September and March.