Uttarakhand Stories

Chopta: A home to magnificent Himalayan birds.

by Archana
Jan 16, 2020

Situated in the Western Himalayan Mountain ranges in the state of Uttarakhand, Chopta is a part of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary and the destination that one can’t afford to miss when it comes to witnessing the magnificent Himalayan birds. It is home to amazingly exceptional birds that people have only heard about and never seen before, so it becomes difficult for them to recognize when they come across such winged creatures en route their treks, even some individuals when they see Monal, mistakenly call it a Peacock. This is not exactly how those fowls ought to be treated, they have their own identities which should be known to everybody.

For you to identify, in case those birds happens to be in the vicinity, this article provides you with pictures of Himalayan feathered creatures along with their physical appearance.

Dinesh Singh Negi is an avid bird watcher and a bird guide based at Chopta, he has been into birding for past five years and have possessed great knowledge about birds that are found in Chopta. These pictures have been acquired from him. 

Himalayan Monal

  • State bird of Uttarakhand, 72 Centimeter
  • Males have long distinctive crest; blue rump with white lower back; entire tail cinnamon- rufous.
  • Females have dark rump (uppertail- coverts white); strongly demarcated white chin and throat; pale streaking on underparts.
  • Sound- loud ringing whistle wheee-(uw)

Himalayan Vulture

  • Large vulture, 120 Centimeter; seen together with 1,3 or 4 the much larger size is apparent.
  • Readily identified by being overall very pale sandy/creamy colored (white or underwing-coverts) with contrastingly dark flight feathers and tail.
  • In contrast the Juvenile is very dark brown overall with a whitish feathered head and neck; pale streaks especially obvious on upperwing- coverts and underbody; almost no contrast between the flight feathers and underwing- coverts; the pale bar on underwing-covert is often indistinct.

Asian barred owlet

  • Often waves tail from side to side; 23cm
  • Identified by barring on upperparts more broadly spaced; barring on belly usually more broken, turning to streaking on lower flanks.
  • Sound- rapid bubbling wowowowowowowo…also a repeated kaokuk call.
Asian Barred Owlet
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Snow Partridge

  • Medium sized bird with shorter tail, 38cm
  • Often found in open hillsides covered with grass, lichens, or other low vegetation.
  • Sound- low whistle.
Snow Patridge
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Yellow-rumped Honeyguide

  • Falls under the category of nearly threatened; 15cm
  • Identification- orange-yellow forehead, malar area and rump.
  • Found in vicinity of cliffs with honeycombs of rock bees in broadleaved and coniferous forest.
Yellow rumped honey guide
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Koklass pheasant

  • Often remain in pairs and small groups; male- 61cm; female- 53cm
  • Further divided into 4 types – a) nipalensis– sides and flanks mainly black; no chestnut collar. b) biddulphi- chestnut collar but not mantle. c) castanea- chestnut collar and mantle. d) nom- sides and flanks mainly grey; no chestnut collar.
  • Sound- ka-ka-ka khwa khwa; kok-kok; qui-quik qui-quik; kwak kwak kwak; wo- kok
Koklass pheasant
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Mountain Hawk Eagle

  • Generally, remain at higher altitude; 72cm
  • The typical pattern of streaked upper breast with the remainder of the underparts barred brown and white; the crest not usually held upright.
  • Sound- usually silent; shrill metallic whistle pee- peeeeoo; sharp kee- kikik
Mountain hawk eagle
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Scarlet Finch

  • Found in open pine and oak forests, streamside vegetation; 18cm
  • Females have olive-green with orange-yellow rump patch very different from males.
  • Sound- too-eee; kwee-i-u.
Scarlet finch
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

White collared black bird

  • Found in dense hilly forest; 27cm
  • Round white ring around the neck; yellow beak and legs
  • Sound- throaty tuck-tuck-tuck-tuck; descending tew-i, tew-u, tew-o.
White collared black bird
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Tickell Thrush

  • Found in groves and forest; 21cm
  • Females have dusky flanks, faint buffy streaks on ear-coverts,
  • Sound- juk-juk; wiw-wiw-wiw…..keek-keek.
Tickell thrush
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Fire fronted serin

  • Found in Hillsides with bushes and stunted trees, screes, dwarf jupiner; 12cm
  • variable in plumage with adults resembling very dark redpolls; foreparts are sooty and the forehead is red; juveniles have buff-brown heads.
  • Sound- tree tree; chiriririri; twittering
Fire fronted serin
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Tawny fish owl

  • Has large ear tufts usually hanging to the sides of the head and looking tousled; eyes are yellow; crown and upperparts are orange-rufous overlaid with broad; blackish markings on the central part of the feathers. It is dull yellow across the shoulders, whereas flight and tail feathers are dark brown and buff; Its facial disc is pale and off-white streaks on eyebrows and forehead.
  • Sound- deep whoo-hoo. It also makes a cat-like meow.
Tawny fish owl
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Stripe throated Yuhina

  • 12–16 cm
  • Rather large, dusky yuhina with prominent erect crest; black-streaked throat and orange-buff wing­panel; slightly forked tail
  • Sound- Typically calls with loud, short, descending, very nasal “mherr” or “wherr.
Stripe throated yuhina
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Great Barbet

  • It is the largest barbet species; 32–35 cm
  • Has a blue head; large yellow bill; brown and green-streaked body; belly and a red vent; plumage is green.
  • The alarm is a harsh keeab, and another call is a repetitive piou-piou-piou-piou.
Great barbet
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Yellow breasted greenfinch

  • The yellow-breasted greenfinch is 12–14.
  • Has a brown conical bill and bright yellow wing bars; underparts are bright yellow; sexes have similar plumage but the female is less brightly coloured.
Yellow breasted green finch
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Chestnut thrush

  • Found in open country and orchards; 27cm
  • species of bird in the family Turdidae
  • Sound- chak-chak-chak; yee-bre, yee-bre, yee-bre …diddiyit, diddiyit,  diddiyit…yip-bru, yip-bru
Chestnut thrush
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Beautiful Rosefinch

  • Found in Alpine shrubbery, open scrubby slopes; 14 cm
  • Paler pink below and on a supercilium, streaked crown, heavily streaked, greyish brown upperparts; thinly streaked breast and flanks.
  • Sound- trip; trilp; chillip; cheet-cheet; chaaannn
Beautiful rosefinch
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler

  • Found in thick scrub at forest edge, overgrown nullahs; bushy slopes; 24cm
  • Sound- cue-pee, quip, raow-kuw, kip, kokuko, kit, quoik, chur, kew, che-che-che
Rusty checked scimiter babbler
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Spot winged rosefinch

  • Found in dwarf Rhododendron; 16cm
  • Male is Identified by deep vinous-brown upperparts, long pale pink supercilium (redder around face), rows of pink spot on wing-bars and tertials, dull pink rump.
  • Female is relatively dark, streaked above, with long buffy supercilium, two diffuse pale wing bars, pale spots on the tertials, buffy streaked with dark brown below.
  • Sound- canary like chirp; wheezy schwee
Spot wing rosefinch
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Lammergeier vulture

  • Also called bearded vulture; over 1 metre
  • Brown above and tawny below; spots on the breast, black and white stripes on the head, and long bristles on the “chin.” Eaglelike feature; feathered face and legs, curved beak, strongly prehensile feet, and long curved claws.
Lammergerier vulture
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Khalij pheasant

  • 63 to 74 cm
  • Are in two groups, in first group male- plumage is glossy blue-black, though with white to the rump or underparts in most subspecies.
  • In the second group, the underparts and crest are glossy blue-black, but the tail and upperparts are white (or very pale grey) with most feathers densely vermiculated with black.
Khalij pheasant
photo by Dinesh Singh Negi

Dinesh Negi is a well known birder in Chopta region. You can also contact him being your birding guide in Chopta :)


Unlike spoken words written expressions and feelings remain loyal forever, so I thought why not become a writer and make my words immortal.

8 Responses

Super… Says

Wow.. amazing..I loved that..

Archana Says

Yes you must definitely visit this amazing place, if your are a bird enthusiastic. I can assure these birds are just sample, there are lot others.

M V Bhaktha Says

Wonderful write up with good information on birds. Chopta is in my bucket list. Amazing images by Dinesh Singh Negi ji.

Ashish Kumar Says

Beautiful… gifts from mother nature..

Sanket Agarwal Says

Very beautiful pictures and wonderfully written. Thanks for sharing ❤️

Archana Says

Of course you can, even lot more than these..

Shubhadarshini Singh Says

wonderful : all those birds. Can we really see them ?

Kiran shah Says

Visiting soon…