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                   The Thattekkad bird sanctuary, which is the first bird sanctuary in Kerala ,is located on the banks of Periyar river, about 12 kms from Kothamangalam ,in Kerala . Thattekad bird sanctuary is also known as Dr.Salim Ali bird sanctuary, named after Dr Salim Ali, the best known ornithologist in India. This bird sanctuary which spreads across an area of 25 sq kms at the foot of western ghats , was notified in 1983 based on previous recommendation by Dr.Salim Ali. He once described Thattekad as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India. Ever growing number of bird watchers and nature lovers from around the globe is a testimony to his words. 

Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary has a rich and varied birdlife(280 + species)and wild life. Several species of forest birds , water birds and migratory birds visit the sanctuary .This is because of the wide variety of natural habitats available at Thattekad, which includes Periyar river,lagoons and marshes formed by Bhootattankettu dam reservoir,tropical semi & evergreen forests of the western ghats.

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Dr.Salim Ali and Thattekad Bird Sanctuary

Mr.Salim Moizuddin Abdul Ali,popularly known as Dr.Salim Ali was an Indian ornithologist and naturalist.He is also reffered to as “the bird man of India” as he was the first Indian to conduct scientific avian surveys across India.He also wrote several books about birds that popularized ornithology in India.Dr.Salim Ali was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1958, third highest civilian honour in India and Padma Vibhushan, second highest civilian honour in 1976.

In 1933 Salim Ali conducted bird surveys in then princely states of Travancore and Cochin in Kerala.It was during this survey that he recommended creating a bird sanctuary at Thattekad because of its bird diversity.This lead to the constitution of first bird sanctuary in Kerala at Thattekad in 1983 and was named Dr.Salim Ali Bird sanctuary Thattekad  in honour of the bird man of India.

Mr.Ali’s wife Tehmina was also with him throughout the survey.He conducted this survey as part of an initiative by Bombay Natural History Society aimed at studying and documenting avian diversity in different parts of India.Ali published his autobiography ‘The fall of a Sparrow’ in 1985, in which he wrote “of all my regional bird surveys between the years 1930 and 1950, which i regard as the most productive period of my career,perhaps the one that gave me both as to the field work and writing up it’s result was the ornithological survey of Travancore-Cochin”.

salim ali
Dr.Salim Ali (12/11/1896 - 20/6 1987)
  • ‘The Book of Indian Birds’ by Salim Ali is a land mark in Indian ornithology study.
  • ‘Hand Book of Birds of India and Pakistan’, a 10 volume book which he co-authored with S Dillon Ripley is considered as Salim Ali’s most important work.
  • Awarded Padma Bhushan in 1958 and Padma Vibhushan in1976.
  • Mr. Ali became the first non-British citizen to receive Gold medal of the British ornithologist’s Union in 1967.
  • Received honorary doctorates from Aligah Muslim university,University of Delhi and Andhra university.
  • Indian postal department released two postal stamps in his honour on his 100th birth anniversary.

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary

 Located on the northern banks of Periyar river, Thattekad is an ever green low-land forest on the foothills of western ghat mountain ranges. This helped Thattekad to become one of the richest bio diversity area in India. Forest types include tropical semi- evergreen and tropical moist deciduous. A large part of the bird sanctuary is teak plantations. Situated in the Kothamangalam thaluk of Eranakulam district of Kerala, this area comes under the administrative jurisdiction of Idukki wildlife division. Thattekad sanctuary and the adjoining forest is part of a large ecological unit with Malayattoor, Parambikulam, Sholayar areas on one side and Munnar, Chinnar, Eravikulam hill ranges on the other side. Thattekad bird sanctuary, which is the first bird sanctuary in Kerala was set up back in 1983, based on studies and recommendation by well known ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali, who is also known as the Bird Man of India. He described Thattekad as “the richest bird habitat in south India, comparable only to Eastern Himalayas.”

Thattekad bird sanctuary and adjoining forests is home to varied flora and fauna which includes 34 species of mamals,280 species of birds,30 species of reptiles,amphibians 15 and fishes 47 species. Salim Ali bird sanctuary is famous for many endemic and endangered birds like ceylon Frogmouth,Black Bazza,Oriental dwarf kingfisher,Bay owl etc which makes this place a must visit location in every bird watcher’s list. Number of bird watchers and nature lovers visiting Thattekad from around the world peaks during winter season ( Nov to Feb), as we get a lot of Migratory birds from different parts on India and abroad.


Location  – 76°41 ′E  10°08′N

Area  – 25.16 sq.km

Temperature  – 20°c to 32°c

Rain fall –  1400 to 2300 mm annually