Wednesday 13 February 2013

The bird sanctuary of Magadi

Though thousands of birds belonging to more than 134 species come here regularly, and some of them from as far as Central Asia, it is perhaps the least known bird sanctuaries in Karnataka.
However, the birds that come and stay for almost eight to nine months in an year here have a very peculiar habit that itself is worth a scientific or ornithological study.
All the birds, irrespective of their age and species they belong to, leave their sanctuary and head to fields and farms of nearby villages and towns. These migratory birds raid these agricultural lands and destroy crops. This has been happening regularly for the last several years.
This is the little known bird sanctuary of Magadi. Yes, it is the Magadi sanctuary but it is not in Bangalore but several hundred kilometers away in north Karnataka.
The Magadi Bird Sanctuary borders the Magadi tank and it is located 26 kilometres from Gadag city. One of the biodiversity hotspots of north Karnataka,  it comes in Shirhatti taluk and it is located on the Gadag-Bangalore road. It is eight kms from Shirhatti and eleven kms from Lakshmeshwar.
This sanctuary is known for the migration of the bar-headed goose (Anser Indicus). More than 5,000 of these are known to congrete here.  
Normally birds like fish, amphibians, mollusks and snakes but the  migratory birds here have started a every night campaign to eat  agricultural produce. But the birds here feed on rice, barley and wheat. They also like jowar, pulses, ground nut and Bengal gram. The farmers are worried as  the huge flock  tend to damage crops.
The tanks covers 134 acres and it has a catchment area of 900 hectares. For the past decade and half, many Central Asian migratory birds and more than 134 species of birds can be seen at this sanctuary.
Some of the birds which are regularly spotted here are Brahamini duck which is also called Ruddy shed duck, Wolly necked stork, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Oriental Ibis, Comb Duck, Greater Flamingo. White Breasted Water Hen, Black winged stilt, Painted stork, and Eurasian Spoonbill.
It is hard to believe that this small lake or tank hosts thousands of winged visitors, particularly, the bar-headed goose. They come in large numbers between December and March every year. They breed here and fly back with their offspring.
If you think that the best time for spotting birds is morning, think once again. Almost all the birds go on their regular raids and they come back to the water body only around 9 a.m. Check it out for yourself.
Generally, Bar headed geese prefer high mountain lakes and are well distributed in central Asia.  They are classified as high fliers and are well adapted to cross the Himalayan mountains, often using the jet steam over them to their advantage.
They are believed to be the highest flying bird having been seen at up to 10175 m (33,382 feet).  They can cover more than a thousand kilometers a day as they are equipped with fairly wide and powerful wings.
These geese lead the others in the raiding party. Why and how they do is an interesting topic.
The authorities have constructed a high watch tower adjacent to the lake for bird watching. A paragola has also been provided for visitors to rest and eat.  Another tank in the vicinity, Shetty Kere, is also a favourite for these birds.
The sanctuary is under the control of the Department of Fisheries, State Government and Magadi village panchayat.
Meanwhile, the people of Magadi village and the migratory birds live in harmony. The villagers ensure that they do not disturb migratory birds and sometimes they take the ailing birds for medical treatment. They even guide the visitors to reach the places from where they can get a better view of the birds.


  1. Hi Samyuktha,
    Nice to read your Blog. My name is Rahul Deshpande, I am from Bangalore and work in software company called SAP. I like Bird Watching and Photography.
    I have plans to go to Magadi.
    I can reach Gadag early morning. So my question to you is

    1. How to reach Magadi from Gadag - is there any bus/auto ?
    2. Is there any place to stay at Magadi or one has to stay at Gadag ?
    3. What are the locations/spots where birds can be photographed ?
    4. What is the best time span to spot the birds?
    Most important
    5. Is it a safe place ?

    Kindly reply at the earliest.
    You may reach me at
    Email -

    Best Regards
    Rahul Deshpande

  2. Some ancient attractions here include the Trikuteshwara temple complex that has three shrines of Shiva, Brahma and Surya. Some of the finest and rare decorative pillars are located at the Saraswathi temple, which is an example of ancient Chalukya art.

    The Veeranarayana temple here is an ancient temple belonging to the Chalukya era and has associations with the popular poet Kumara Vyasa. Other attractions here include the biodiversity spot of Karnataka, Magadi Bird Sanctuary and Magadi Tank, which is located in Magadi Village of Gadag.

    There is a railway station at Gadag that connects most of the Indian cities. The nearest airport is located in Hubli, about 64 kilometres from Gadag.