Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary at Bharatpur is one of the most important breeding and feeding grounds for ymigratory birds in the world. More than 30 sq.km of shallow lakes and scrubby woodland harbour over 350 bird species from as far away as Europe and Siberia. It is possible to see 150 species in a day and as many as 10 species nesting in a single tree. The main migratory season is from mid October to mid February, but many residents nest and breed in the sanctuary during the hotter months and monsoon.
The sanctuary owes its origins to Maharaja Suraj Mahl of Bharatpur. He modified Lake Keoladeo using a system of dykes and sluice gates to produce an artificial swamp during the 19th century. The resultant habitat provided ideal feeding grounds for huge numbers of birds, and a large bag for Suraj Mahl, who retained shooting rights until 1972. Bharatpur was given National Park status in 1982 to control visitors, and offer protection from illegal grazing. The sanctuary was declared a World Heritage Site in 1985 and is widely held to be the best birding site in India.
One of the most visually exciting sights is the Keoladeo Heronry with six different species of herons and egrets. Nesting alongside are Painted Storks, Ibises, Spoonbills, Jacanas and Cormorants, together with terrestrials including a variety of Babblers, Warblers and Bee-Eaters. The most important visitors are the Siberian Cranes, but since they raise only one chick their numbers are dwindling, just one or two pairs have visited in recent years.
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