Wetland Birding in Bhutan

Wetlands in Bhutan

Bhutan has rather few wetlands, and apart from some rivers stretches, these are not significant areas in terms of bird populations. Himalayan rivers were in the place before the mountains’ formation, and consequently, the river courses have remained unchanged while they have cut ever-deeper gorges and valleys. These valleys have provided the main avenues of contact between Indian and Eurasian wildlife. Two globally threatened wetland species can be found regularly in Bhutan. The rare White-bellied Heron (Adrea insignis) breeds in and frequents only those rivers and lakes in dense broadleaved forests below 1,400 m (4,600 ft.). Pallas’s Fish Eagle (Halieetus leucoryphus), which breeds in and inhabits large rivers, is also below 1,400 m (4,600 ft.).

Typical species breeding along rivers and streams include Kingfishers, Forktails, Dippers, Wagtails, Blue Whistling Thrush, and Redstarts.

The extensive marshes in the Phobjekha valley in central Bhutan are an important wintering ground for the globally threatened Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis). Moreover, there are numerous small ponds and wetland marshes throughout Bhutan — often used in cultivation and located in proximity to human habitation — that serve as the spring and summer home of species such as the Black-tailed Crake (Ponzana bico) and the Ruddy-breasted Crake (Ponzana fusca).

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