Bhutan is a stunningly beautiful and ornithologically rewarding place to visit, especially because of the unspoilt nature of its often dramatic wildlife habitats, fostered by a culture which truly loves and values its natural realms.

Even around the country’s capital in the Thimphu valley it is likely that you’ll spot some interesting birds such as Nepal House Martins, White-tailed Nutchtches, Black-tailed Craiks, Yellow-billed Blue Magpies, Spotted Nutcrackers, Black Eagles, Crested Serpent-Eagles, Black-faced Laughingthrushes, Hoopoes and Rufous-bellied Woodpeckers among the local inhabitants.

When travelling in Bhutan, it would be a travesty not to visit the wonderful and iconic ‘Tigers nest’ monastery of Taksang situtated in the Paro valley, to the west of Thimphu, and the birdlife in the valley is well worth seeing as a complement, with Ibisbills, Kalij Pheasants, Crested Goshawks, Eurasian Kestrels, and Indian Bluechats to keep you company.

Leading out of Paro Valley, the Chelila Pass will introduce you to some of the higher altitude residents such as Himalayan Monals, Rosy Pipits, Blue-fronted Redstarts, White-browed Rosefinches, Himalayan Griffins and Rufous-breasted Accentors.

To the east of Thimpu, travelling over the Dochula Pass to Punakha will provide birding opportunities to see Hill partridges, Blue-bellied Flowerpeckers, Green Shrike-Babblers, Darjeeling Woodpeckers, Golden-naped Finches, Satyr Tragopans, Cutias, Fire-tailed Myzonis and Golden Bush-Robins among many others.

Beyond Punakha, the forests around the Mo Chhu River heading north into Jigme Dorji National Park may give you a highly prized sighting of the rare White-bellied Heron, while you are more certain to see Tawny Fish-Owls, Scarlet Finches, Chestnut-bellied Rockthrushes, Red-headed Trogons, Striated Bulbuls, Mountain Hawk-Eagles, Fire-capped Tits, Fire-tailed and Green-tailed Sunbirds, Little Niltavas, Bay and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Slaty-backed Forktails, Pygmy Blue Flycatchers and Rufous-chinned Laughingthrushes among a host of others.

To the east of Punakha, the Phobjikha Valley is another rewarding area for bird enthusiasts and is home to a wintering flock of Black-necked Cranes, keeping company with many other species, including Brown Dippers, Crested Kingfishers, Black-throated and Brown Parrotbills, Blood Pheasants and White-capped Water Redstarts.

Travelling further east, the forests of Tingtibi Valley is a great place to see birds, though due to a lack of hotels, will probably necessitate an overnight camp. The surrounding areas are home to Pin-tailed Green Pigeons, White-browed Piculets, Fulvettas, Beautiful Nuthatches, Chestnut-breasted Partridges, Collared Treepies, Blue-bearded Bee-eaters, Grey-headed Parrotbills, Barred Cuckoo-Doves, White-tailed Robins, the much sought after Wards Trogons, Himalayan Swiftlets, Long-tailed Minivets, Great Hornbills, and Purple Conchoas.

Venturing ever eastward, the valleys of Bumthang afford further chances to see many of the above species, which you may have missed, together with others such as Snowy-browed Flycatchers and Crested Goshawks, while beyond into the area around Thrumslinga and Sengor, you will also find the rare Long-billed thrush as well hanging out with Yellow-rumped Honeyguides, Rufous winged Fulvettas, Orange-flanked Bush-Robins, Orange-gorgeted, Blyths and Grey-hooded Leaf-Warblers, Bar-winged Wren-Babblers, Greater Necklaced and Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes, Slender-billed Scimitar-Babblers, Stripe-throated Yuhinas and Red-headed Bullfinches.

A little way further eastwards, you will enter Bhutan’s premier birding spots of Yongkola and Limithang, which among many of the species you may already have encountered, also feature such feathered luminaries as Blue-naped Pittas, Crimson-breasted and Lesser Yellow-naped Woodpeckers, Blue-winged Laughingthrushes, Mountain and Ashy Bulbuls, Golden-throated and Blue-throated Barbets, Hodgson’s and Plumbeous Redstarts, Striated Prinias, Wedge-billed and Rufous-throated Wren-Babblers, Cobalt Blue-fronted Robins, Collared Owlets, Whiskered, White-naped and Black-chinned Yuhinas, Black-eared Shrike-Babblers, White-browed  Shortwings, Oriental Hawk-Cuckoos, Verditer Flycatchers, Himalayan Treepies, Fire-breasted Flowerpeckers, Yellow and White-bellied Fantails, Golden-breasted and Yellow-throated Fulvettas, Grey-bellied, Chestnut-headed and Slaty-bellied Tesias, and Chestnut Serpent-Eagles among but a few of the denizens of these bird-rich areas.

To the south of the yongkola and Lilithang, the area around Samdrup Jonkhar near the Indian border is another avian treasure, featuring Indian and Chinese Pond Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets, Oriental Magpie-Robins and Blyth’s Kingfishers, while in the forests above, Pied Harriers, Golden-fronted Leafbirds, White-rumped Shamas, Asian Fairy-Bluebirds, Plaintive Cuckoos, Paradise Flycatchers, Streaked Spiderhunters, Emerald Doves, Hooded Pittas, White-throated Needletails, Oriental Pied Hornbills, Pale-headed Woodpeckers  Silver-breasted Broadbills, and Wreathed Hornbills play among a host of other species.

Birding is possible all year round, particularly in the areas around Paro and Punakha, though the mating season from March to May is the time when birds are most active and easily spotted.