A Day Trip to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka

Ranganathittu - Openbill Stork with chicks
Trip to  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Asian Openbill Stork with chicks

While I lived in Bangalore for over a decade, I treated Ranganathittu as my backyard bird sanctuary. A trip to Ranganathittu bird sanctuary had always been a pit stop before heading to big national parks like Nagarhole, Bandipur, BR Hills and the likes.

The fondest memories I have of my trips include devouring Kadubu (rice cakes) in Kamat Lokaruchi, Ramanagar. The setup of the restaurant creates an exotic ambience. Stalks of bananas and coconuts dangle from the ceiling. Paintings of local men and women draped in traditional attire adorn the walls. In my opinion, men in white dhotis (sarong) and topis (caps) serving food in banana leaves is what makes this place so appealing. It was a consolation for waking up in the wee hours to go birdwatching.

Kamat Lokaruchi, Ramanagar
Kamat Lokaruchi, Ramanagar

I went to the sanctuary after a long break and realized how I missed this gem of a bird sanctuary. The air abounded with bird calls. Mynahs, bulbuls, warblers, and sparrows greeted me from the thickets at the entrance. It felt like a red carpet or should I say green carpet welcome. I relived my Bangalore days although it was only a few hours.

Trip to  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Oriental Darters

A Trip to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary  

Split over 40 acres of space, on the banks of the river Kaveri, lie six islets of Ranganathittu. Thanks to ornithologist Salim Ali’s work it was declared a bird sanctuary in 1940. It is the largest bird sanctuary of the state Karnataka .

Given that it’s just 140 km from Bangalore and on the way to famous historical and religious sites Mysore and Srirangapatna (Seringapatam), it naturally gained popularity. 

Trip to  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Asian Openbill with nesting material

Boat Tours – Birdwatchers and Photographers Delight

Trip to  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

The heronry is the best part of the bird sanctuary, for it is a breeding ground for many birds. The breeding birds include Painted Storks, Asian Openbill Storks, Common Spoon Bills, four types of egrets (Little, Common, Yellow-billed, and Cattle Egrets) three types of cormorants (Little, Indian, and Great Cormorants), Spot-billed Pelicans, Herons, Cliff Swallows, and River Terns to name but a few.

And one of the popular activities of the bird sanctuary is the boat tours of the action-packed isles guided by rangers. There is no better way to unwind than to sit in a boat and observe nature put up a beautiful show for you.  

Between December and January, the migratory birds start arriving and the best time to visit the sanctuary. The spectacle of migratory birds shrouding the canopy flanking the islands consisting of Bamboo grooves, Acacia and Eucalyptus trees among others is spellbinding. What’s more, the migratory birds come from as far as Siberia, North America and Australia.

Having said that, one can visit the sanctuary any time of the year and still watch the birds up close in their nests. I made a trip in mid-February while summer is just around the corner. It was quite warm already, 9 am felt like noon, but the sanctuary was still a hive of activity.

The Asian Openbill Storks were either busy feeding the chicks or gathering nest material to refurbish the nests. I watched some storks wetting leaves in water and carrying it to the nest to keep the chicks cool. I watched pelicans do impressive manoeuvres to dip their bills into the water and scoop up fish in their gular pouch with droplets trailing after them as they soared.  And the gaping Marsh Crocodiles in the water only enliven the performance. 

Trip to  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Painted Storks
Trip to  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Eurasian or Common Spoonbills
Trip to  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Spot-billed Pelican
Trip to  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Greater Thick Knees or Great Stone Plovers
Trip to  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Nests of Indian Cliff Swallows


Bird and Mammals of Ranganathittu 

The bird sanctuary is home to approximately 170 bird species. Some common sightings in and around the bird sanctuary include munias, buntings, cuckoos, babblers, robins, bushchats, flowerpeckers, sunbirds, warblers, ioras, minivets, flycatchers, bee-eaters, drongos, shrikes, Great Horned owls, Wire-tailed Swallows, and Baya Weavers

The sanctuary also hosts several mammals such as Bonnet Macaques, Indian Flying Foxes, Common Palm Civets, Monitor Lizards, Indian Grey Mongoose and occasional sightings of otters.

The bird sanctuary is not only great for avid birders but also for beginners. Needless to say, it is also a perfect place for children to learn about biodiversity and connect with nature. 

Trip to  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Marsh Crocodile
Trip to  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Fruit Bat or Flying Fox
Trip to  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
A colony of Fruit Bats

Travel Tips

  • Nearest international airports in Bangalore 
  • December to January is the migratory season and the best time to take a trip to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
  • Buses and trains frequently ply from Bangalore to Mysore and Srirangapatna. And there are connecting buses to the bird sanctuary from both the places. 
  • The boat rides start at 8:30 am and goes on till 6:30 pm and weekends get crowded
  • Students and children get a discount on tickets
  • It’s a plastic-free zone
  • Entry charges differ for Indians and Foreigners


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