Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary (Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary)

The Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary also known as the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is located in the Indian state of Kerala.  The nearest airport is Kochi.  From the airport, you can get a prepaid taxi to Thattekkad.

Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary Location

It covers an area of barely 25 km² and is located about 60 km north-east of Kochi (Kerala state, India), and was the first bird sanctuary in Kerala.  Salim Ali, one of the best known ornithologists described this sanctuary as the richest bird habitat on peninsular India.Thattekkad literally means flat forest, and the region is an evergreen low-land forest located between the branches of Periyar River, the longest river in Kerala.  The weather remains pleasant throughout the year at Thattekad. Though Kerala is a good destination to visit during monsoon (June-September), it is advisable that plans to visit the sanctuary are not made during the rainy season. Large part of the sanctuary becomes inaccessible because of the rains. The best season to visit is between October and April.  My biggest mistake in 2011 was going in September though the weather wasn’t as bad as it could have been and we did see lots of birds including my target bird, the Malabar Parakeet.

  • If you intend to visit the sanctuary on a day trip, ensure you reach as soon as the visiting hours start. The sanctuary is open from 6 AM-6 PM. Indian nationals will have to pay an entry fee of Rs. 10. An additional fee will have to be paid if you are carrying camera (Rs 25) and video camera (Rs. 150).
  • Monsoon is best avoided. In addition to the danger of wild animals lurking in the undergrowth, you will also have to deal with blood sucking leeches.
  • Hire a guide for your visit to the sanctuary.  In addition, to helping you make the most of your bird sighting exercise, guides can also help protect you from potential dangers. Guides are available at the entrance of the sanctuary or at the Assistant Wildlife Warden’s office.

The bird list is amazing so no wonder this sanctuary attracts keen birders from all over the world!  The highlights include:  Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Starling and Malabar Grey Hornbill. The other species like Wynaad Laughingthrush, Rufous Babbler, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, White-bellied Treepie, Grey-headed Bulbul, Nilgiri Flowerpecker or Crimson-backed Sunbird need some luck and some time but are all possible. Thattekad is also a very good spot for the enigmatic Sri Lanka Frogmouth and for different owls.


We stayed at the Hornbill Camp and loved it!  I will do a review of this lodge in a separate post, but for now here are Trip Advisor reviews of the lodges near Thattekkad.  Many of the reviewers also mention their birding guides so they are doubly helpful.  Always pay attention to the profile of the reviewers, obviously reviews from birders would be more relevant to us than honeymooners or family trip folks.

Hornbill Camp

Soma Birds Lagoon

Jungle Bird Homestay

Periyar River Lodge


Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary Across the River

Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary Across the River