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Birds of Everest Base Camp Trek

Himalaya Monal / Danphe

The Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the best treks for bird watching and bird photography in the Himalayas for three reasons. Firstly, the Everest National Park alone is home to 219 species of birds. Second, you can enjoy birding without compromising on comfort as there are mid-range to luxury lodges throughout the trek. And lastly, wildlife in Everest Region is exceptionally approachable as the Sherpas do not hunt and bother wild animals.

Best time for Birding in Everest Region

April and May are the best months for birding along the Everest Base Camp Trek. Most altitudinal migrants have made their way up, and there is a lot of breeding activity during this time. October and November, the best months for mountain views, however, have much less variety, as many of the altitudinal migrants have moved lower.

For a detailed treatment, please refer to the Best time to trek to Everest Base Camp Trek Series.

How to get to Everest Region

Lukla Weather- March/ April
A clear sunny morning at Lukla Airport during spring.

The most popular way to start the Everest Base Camp Trek is to take a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. You can also choose from several alternatives, which include flying to Phaplu or driving to Jiri.

Suggested Itinerary

Among the numerous routes in the Everest Region, the Gokyo Ri and Gokyo Lakes Trek is the best one for birders. The trek sees fewer people than the Everest Base Camp Trek and goes through a wider variety of habitats. It is also possible to include the Everest Base Camp in your trek by going through the 5,420 meters high Cho La Pass.

11 Birds of the Everest Region

11. Himalayan Griffon

Himalayan Griffon
Himalayan Griffon

High up in the afternoon skies above Ama Dablam, you will see these birds circling. These vultures are ever watchful for the dead and dying. Just take a nap for a few hours in a secluded area, and you will probably have these birds circle you! You will then realize that the specks you see up in the sky are actually huge birds with ten feet wingspan and an ugly bald head.

An interesting fact is that in some parts of the Himalaya, the dead are offered to Himalaya Griffons in an ancient burial rite. The ritual seems surreal and spooky, especially when the corpse is being chopped down. However, it makes perfect sense in a land where cremation is out of the question because wood is scarce, and burial is ineffective because decomposition can take ages.

Best place to see in the Everest Region: Pretty much everywhere after 11:00 am. Namche is especially useful.

10. Lammergeier

Lammergeier
Lammergeier

Lammergeier is a massive bird with a 10 feet wingspan. Despite its feathered head and slimmer build, it is a vulture nevertheless. It can be told from the commoner Griffons by their wedge-shaped tail and narrower wings. These vultures can afford to have feathered necks and heads because it doesn’t bother with the filthy entrails and messy muscles of a carcass. It feeds on what other vultures leave behind- the bones. Well, not precisely bones, but bone marrow and to get at it, it takes the bones for a joyride and breaks them by dropping it on rocks below. Legend has it that a famous Greek playwright Aeschylus was killed when a Lammergeier mistook his bald head for a rock. Check headgear now! They have also been known to aid smaller mountain goats and sheep to lose their foothold in precarious cliffs.

Best place to see in Everest Region: Around Namche Bazaar, Dingboche, Lobuche, Gokyo.

9. Alpine Accentor

Alpine Accentor
Alpine Accentor

These guys are high altitude sparrows except for the fact that they love swinging. And we use the word ‘swing’ in its adult version. These birds form breeding parties in which everybody’s free to do everybody else. However, the males keep track of the females they had a good time with and only help her feed the hatchlings. They also happen to be one of the most trusting birds of the high altitudes and will only feel uneasy when you are an arm’s length away.

Best place to see in Everest Region: Gokyo, Dingboche, Pheriche, Lobuche, Gorakshep, Chukung.

8. Great Rosefinch

Great Rosefinch
Great Rosefinch

These birds are like little strawberries in ice cream. Adding much-needed color to the arid and snowclad environment of the upper stretches of the Everest Region, the Great Rosefinch is a cheerful little bird. However, come winter, these birds start their annual migration to lower altitudes.

Best place to see in Everest Region: Dingboche, Pheriche, Lobuche, Gorakshep, Gokyo, Chukung.

7. Red-billed Chough

Red-billed Chough
Red-billed Chough

Choughs are crows with red lipsticks and perhaps a more pleasant voice. It seems these guys love to fly for fun and are known for their regular acrobatic displays. They sometimes congregate in such numbers that when the whole gang takes wing, they blacken the sky. Usually, you will see them foraging in fields or breaking up yak dung for insects. Unlike most human beings, these guys mate for life, and a Cornish legend states that King Arthur’s soul migrated into one of these guys after his last battle.

Best place to see in Everest Region: Dingboche, Pheriche, Gokyo, Gorakshep, Chukung, Lobuche.

6. Spotted Nutcracker

Spotted Nutcracker
Spotted Nutcracker PC: Par kuhnmi — Spotted nutcracker, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83655997

Nutcrackers are more often heard than seen, and their harsh grating call isn’t too pleasant a sound. However, this bird shows enormous foresight as a single nutcracker can store up to a hundred thousand pine nuts during plentiful times. And thanks to its fantastic memory, the hidden stash comes in handy for months on end when food becomes scarce.

Best place to see in Everest Region: Namche Bazar, Jorsalle.

5. Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle

Golden Eagles are essentially tigers of the bird kingdom. Ferocious and indomitable, many countries, including Germany, pay tribute to these birds in their emblems, and the Mongols even train them to hunt foxes. They can bring down prey several times their size, and one such hunt is shown in BBC’s Planet Earth in which a pair of Golden Eagles bring down a Demoiselle crane. And guess what, the clip was shot here in Nepal at Mustang.

They can generally be told from the vultures by the way they hold their wings in a V-shape while soaring.

Best place to see in Everest Region: Namche, Pangboche, Dingboche, Pheriche, Thame, Gokyo.

4. Grandala

Grandala
Grandala Par kuhnmi — Spotted nutcracker, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83655997

It isn’t uncommon to encounter a group of these birds numbering in the hundreds. With their searing blue color, they are quite a sight, especially when they take wing to catch insects. While one of these pretty birds would make someone’s day, imagine seeing hundreds all at once.

Best place to see in Everest Region: Lukla, Gokyo.

3. Tibetan Snowcock

Tibetan Snowcock
Tibetan Snowcock

This noisy partridge has forgotten the art of flight. At its best, it can flutter downhill, and that too if you insist on it. The best time to see them is during late autumn and winter when they go out in large parties up to 30 strong. They are also very tame or curious in the Everest Region, where its far-carrying kwek-kwek is a familiar sound, especially during mornings and evenings.

Best place to see in Everest Region: Gokyo, Ev-K2-CNR. While it used to be common around all high altitude settlements, with the increasing number of dogs, they have become harder to see.

2. Blood Pheasant

Blood Pheasant
Blood Pheasant

These pheasants are excellent runners and take wing with much reluctance. The blood in its name comes from the fact that its face, eyes, and tails are smeared crimson. It makes birch forests its natural home and is seldom found away from it.

Best place to see in Everest Region: Tengboche, Deboche, Phortse, Dole.

1. Himalayan Monal

Himalaya Monal / Danphe
Himalaya Monal / Danphe

Also called Danphe in Nepal, this guy is the dandiest of the high altitude pheasants with its iridescent plumage. It is also the national bird of Nepal and loves to fill the morning air with its far-carrying high pitched whistle. Like other high altitude birds, they are easier to see during the autumn and winter as they descend to lower altitudes then and also go about in large parties.

Best place to see in Everest Region: Namche, Pangboche, Phortse.

Checklist of the Birds of Everest Region

Everest National Park has 219 bird species. Here is the complete checklist:

Birds of Everest National Park- Checklist
SN Order/Family/ Common Name Scientific Name
GALLIFORMES
Phasianidae
1 Danphe/Himalayan Monal Lophophorus impejanus
2 Snow Partridge Lerwa lerwa
3 Blood Pheasant II Ithaginis cruentus
4 Kalij Pheasant Lophura leucomelanos
5 Tibetan Snowcock I Tetraogallus tibetanus
6 Satyr Tragopan III, # Tragopan satyra
ANSERIFORMES
Anatidae
7 Northern Pintail Anas acuta
8 Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
9 Common Teal Anas crecca
10 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
11 Garganey Anas querquedula
12 Gadwall Anas strepera
13 Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus
14 Common Pochard * VU Aythya ferina
15 Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
16 Ferruginous Pochard Aythya nyroca
17 Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
18 Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
PICIFORMES
Picidae
19 Crimson-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos cathpharius
20 Darjeeling Woodpecker Dendrocopos darjellensis
21 Scaly-bellied Woodpecker Picus squamatus
UPUPIFORMES
Upupidae
22 Common Hoopoe Upupa epops
CUCULIFORMES
Cuculidae
23 Pied Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus
24 Eurasian Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
25 Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus
26 Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus
27 Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides
APODIFORMES
Apodidae
28 Fork-tailed Swift Apus pacificus
29 Himalayan Swiftlet Collocalia brevirostris
STRIGIFORMES
Strigidae
30 Little Owl II Athene noctua
31 Eurasian Eagle Owl II Bubo bubo
32 Tawny Owl II Strix aluco
COLUMBIFORMES
Columbidae
33 Speckled Wood Pigeon Columba hodgsonii
34 Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota
35 Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris
36 Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis
GRUIFORMES
Otididae
37 Demoiselle Crane II Grus virgo
Rallididae
38 Common Coot Fulica atra
CICONIIFORMES
Scolopacidae
39 Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
40 Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii
41 Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
42 Wood Snipe * VU Gallinago nemoricola
43 Solitary Snipe Gallinago solitaria
44 Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola
45 Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
46 Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
47 Common Redshank Tringa totanus
48 Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus
Charadriidae
49 Ibisbill Ibidorhyncha struthersii
Laridae
50 Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus
51 Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
52 Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Accipitridae
53 Northern Goshawk II Accipiter gentilis
54 Eurasian Sparrowhawk II Accipiter nisus
55 Besra Accipiter virgatus
56 Cinereous Vulture II Aegypius monachus
57 Steppe Eagle * EN, II Aquila nipalensis
58 Golden Eagle II Aquila chrysaetos
59 Imperial Eagle * VU, I Aquilla heliaca
60 Common Buzzard II Buteo buteo
61 Long-legged Buzzard II Buteo rufinus
62 Hen Harrier II Circus cyaneus
63 Lammergeier II Gypaetus barbatus
64 Himalayan Griffon II Gyps himalayensis
65 Booted Eagle II Hieraaetus pennatus
66 Black Kite II Milvus migrans
67 Osprey II Pandion haliaetus
Falconidae
68 Merlin II Falco columbarius
69 Peregrine Falcon I Falco peregrinus
70 Common Kestrel II  
Podicipedidae
71 Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
72 Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
PASSERIFORMES
Laniidae
73 Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus
Corvidae
74 Common Raven Corvus corax
75 Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
76 Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
77 Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes
78 Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus
79 Yellow-bellied Fantail Pericrocotus hypoxantha
80 Red-billed Chough Pryrhocorax pyrrhocorax
81 Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus
82 Yellow-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa flavirostris
83 Hume’s Groundpecker Pseudopodoces humilis
Cinclidae
84 White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus
85 Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii
Muscicapidae
86 White-capped Water Redstart Chaimarrornis leucocephalus
87 Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis
88 Little Forktail Enicurus scouleri
89 Spotted Forktail Enicurus maculatus
90 Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina
91 Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher Ficedula strophiata
92 Ultramarine Flycatcher Ficedula superciliaris
93 Slaty-blue Flycatcher Ficedula tricolor
94 Grandala Grandala coelicolor
95 White-bellied Redstart Hodgsonius phaenicuroides
96 White-tailed Rubythroat Luscinia pectoralis
97 Indian Blue Robin Luscinia brunnea
98 Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
99 Chestnut-bellied Rock
Thrush
Monticola rufiventris
100 Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea
101 Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus
102 Rufous-bellied Niltava Niltava sundara
103 White-winged Redstart Phoenicurus erythrogaster
104 Blue-fronted Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis
105 Hodgson’s Redstart Phoenicurus hodgsoni
106 Blue-capped Redstart Phoenicurus coeruleocephalus
107 Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
108 White-throated Redstart Phoenicurus schisticeps
109 Plumbeous Water Redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosus
110 Grey Bushchat Saxicola ferrea
111 Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata
112 Golden Bush Robin Tarsiger chryaseus
113 Himalayan Bluetail Tarsiger (cyanurus) rufilatus
114 White-browed Bush Robin Tarsiger indicus
115 White-collared Blackbird Turdus albocinctus
116 Kessler’s Thrush Turdus kessleri
117 Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula maximus
118 Dark-throated Thrush Turdus ruficollis
119 Black-throated Thrush Turdus atrogularis
120 Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
121 Long-tailed Thrush Zoothera dixoni
122 Plain-backed Thrush Zoothera mollissima
Sturnidae
123 Purple-backed Starling Sturnus sturninus
Sittidae
124 Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria
125 White-tailed Nuthatch Sitta himalayansis
Certhiidae
126 Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
127 Rusty-flanked Treecreeper Certhia nipalensis
128 Winter Wren Troglodytes trolodytes
Paridae
129 Coal Tit Parus ater
130 Grey-crested Tit Parus dichrous
131 Great Tit Parus major
132 Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus
133 Rufous-vented Tit Parus rubidiventris
134 Yellow-browed Tit Sylviparus modestus
Aegithalidae
135 Black-throated Tit Aegithalos consinnus
136 Rufous-fronted Tit Aegithalos iouschistos
Hirundinidae
137 Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus
138 Nepal House Martin Delichon nepalensis
139 Eurasian Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris
140 Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Regulidae
141 Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Sylviidae
142 White-browed Fulvetta Alcippe vinipectus
143 Rufous-winged Fulvetta Alcippe castaneceps
144 Grey-sided Bush Warbler Cettia brunnifrons
145 Black-faced Laughingthrush Garrulax affinis
146 Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush Garrulax erythrocephalus
147 Streaked Laughingthrush Garrulax lineatus
148 Spotted Laughingthrush Garrulax ocellatus
149 Rufous Sibia Heterophasia capsitrata
150 Bar-throated Siva Minla strigula
151 Fulvous Parrotbill Paradoxornis fulvifrons
152 Tickell’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus affinis
153 Lemon-rumped Warbler Phylloscopus chlorontus
154 Smoky Warbler Phylloscopus fuligiventer
155 Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
156 Ashy-throated Warbler Phylloscopus maculipennis
157 Large-billed Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus magnirostris
158 Western Crowned
Warbler
Phylloscopus occipitalis
159 Buff-barred Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher
160 Blyth’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus reguloides
161 Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides
162 Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler Pnoepyga albiventer
163 Green Shrike Babbler Pteruthius xanthochlorus
164 Hoary-throated Barwing Actinodura nipalensis
165 Green-crowned Warbler Seicercus burkii
166 Whistler’s Warbler Seicercus whistleri
167 Grey-hooded Warbler Seicercus xanthoschistos
168 Stripe-throated Yuhina Yuhina gularis
169 Rufous-vented Yuhina Yuhina occipitalis
Alaudidae
170 Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula
171 Hume’s Short-toed Lark Calandrella acutirostris
172 Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
173 Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris
Nectariniidae
174 Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker Dicaeum melanoxanthum
175 Mrs Gould’s Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae
176 Green-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga nipalensis
177 Fire-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga ignicauda
Passeridae
178 Blyth’s Pipit Anthus godlewskii
179 Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
180 Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
181 Rosy Pipit Anthus roseatus
182 Citrine Wagtail Montacilla citreola
183 White Wagtail Montacilla alba
184 Grey Wagtail Montacilla cinerea
185 Rufous-necked Snowfinch Montifringilla ruficolis
186 Black-winged Snowfinch Montrifringilla
adamsi
187 House Sparrow Passer domesticus
188 Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
189 Russet Sparrow Passer rutilans
190 Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris
191 Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens
192 Altai Accentor Prunella himalayana
193 Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides
194 Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunellla strophiata
195 Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata
Fringillidae
196 Twite Carduelis flavirostris
197 Yellow-breasted Greenfinch Carduelis spinoiedes
198 Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
199 Dark-brested Rosefinch Carpodacus nipalnesis
200 Beautiful Rosefich Carpodacus pulcherrimus
201 Red-fronted Rosefinch Carpodacus puniceus
202 Pink-browed Rosefinch Carpodacus rodochrous
203 Spot-winged Rosefinch Carpodacus rodopeplus
204 Great Rosefinch Carpodacus rubicilla
205 Streaked Rosefinch Carpodacus rubicilloides
206 White-browed Rosefinch Carpodacus thura
207 Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata
208 Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla
209 Brandt’s Mountain Finch Leucostice brandti
210 Plain Mountain Finch Leucostice nemoricola
211 Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
212 Collared Grosbeak Mycerobas affinis
213 Spot-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas melanozanthos
214 White-winged Grosbeak Nycerobas carnipes
215 Crimson-browed Finch Pinicola subhimachala
216 Brown Bullfinch Pyrrhula nipalensis
217 Scarlet Finch Haematospiza sipahi
218 Red-headed Bullfinch Pyrrhula erythrocephala
219 Tibetan Serin Serinus thibetanus

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