Our Five Favourite Birds in India

Our Five Favourite Birds in India

The Original Travel team is bursting with travel specialists (check out our 11 Top Travel Specialists selected by Conde Nast Traveler), so when asked about our favourite birds in India, we passed the mic over to Frances Mavor. As a feathered friend fanatic and India expert, Frances knows her stuff when it comes to the birds ruling this slice of Asia’s sky. Read on to discover a few of her favourites and learn a thing or two about India’s glorious, winged creatures…


  1. Black-rumped flameback
  2. Jungle babbler
  3. Oriental magpie-robin
  4. White-cheeked barbet
  5. Asian koel


Black-rumped flameback

The black-rumped flameback is Mother Nature’s red-haired rockstar. Endemic to India and Sri Lanka, these birds sport golden yellow wings, a sleek black body speckled with white and an explosion of fiery red feathers on their head. The black-rumped flameback doesn’t just look the part; it's a true performer too. Like other woodpeckers, their beaks can drum up a rhythm while drilling into trees, and they’re also detected by their loud ‘ki-ki-ki-ki' call that steadily increases in pace. But, unlike other woodpeckers, these bold, fiery friends can be found flapping around in urban areas as well as in forests.

Black-rumped flameback


Jungle babbler

As their name suggests, the jungle babbler is India’s resident chatterbox. You’ll hear them before you see them, but their distinctive dark brow pulled down over their pale, beady eyes give them a glare that’s hard to miss (and forget). Despite their solemn looks, these babbling birds are far from solitary – jungle babblers stick together in flocks of six to 12, chirping and chattering away together as they search for bugs, fruits and seeds. With 15 different calls for different contexts, these birds refuse to be ignored and rightfully earn a spot as one of our favourite birds in India.

Jungle Babbler


Oriental magpie-robin

The oriental magpie-robin (yes, it looks like a mash-up of the two) is the national bird of Bangladesh, distinguished by its striking black and white feathers and pin-straight tail. Not only does their deep hue stand out in forests, parks and gardens, but their sweet melodies also turn heads, and they’re believed to bring joy when singing at your window. However, tradition warns that their songs should be enjoyed in pairs, as a lone bird's song is considered a bad omen.

Oriental Magpie Robin


White-cheeked barbet

Found only in southern India, the white-cheeked barbet resembles a paintbrush dipped in bright green paint. Its white stripe below the eye distinguishes it from the more widespread brown-headed barbet, but their shrill-sounding calls can be heard erupting from both species’ beaks. Along with singing, their beaks are sturdy and suited for breaking open tough fruit shells or pecking through foliage for tasty treats.

White-cheeked barbet


Asian koel

Last up on the list of our favourite birds in India is the Asian koel, a bird with two distinct looks for each gender. Both adults have striking red eyes, but the males are a deep, glossy black, while the females are blackish brown with white dots and streaks. Behind their beautiful exterior hides a sneaky demeanour, as they’re known to be brood parasites – females will lay eggs in the nests of other bird species who go on to raise the chicks. Despite this intriguing breeding strategy, the Asian koel faces threats from habitat loss and human interference, highlighting the need for conservation efforts to ensure its survival.

Asian Koel

Written by Evie Buller | Header Image by Katie Thompson /