Kokkare Bellur Bird Sanctuary: Karnataka’s Avian Eden

Close your eyes and picture a place where ancient trees line the horizon, where the sky is adorned with the majestic flight of thousands of birds, and where each step brings you closer to the heart of nature’s remarkable spectacle. Welcome to Kokkare Bellur Bird Sanctuary, a haven for bird photography enthusiasts and a sanctuary for nature lovers like me.

Revealing the Charms of Kokkare Bellur

Nestled in the Mandya district of Karnataka, Kokkare Bellur Bird Sanctuary is a serene and picturesque paradise covering approximately 5.12 square kilometers. This sanctuary stands as a living testament to the harmony between vibrant birdlife and the traditional lifestyle of the village. What sets Kokkare Bellur apart is its unique partnership between humans and birds—a place where painted storks and pelicans have coexisted with the local villagers for centuries.

Kokkare Bellur is more than just a sanctuary; it’s a sanctuary with a story. This village has been a refuge for migratory birds since time immemorial. The local villagers, known as the ‘Bird Friends of Kokkare Bellur,’ have protected and revered these winged visitors, making it a safe haven for nesting and breeding. The sanctuary’s tranquility offers bird photographers a canvas to capture the mesmerizing avian world.

Flora and Fauna

Spot billed pelican
A Spot-billed pelican busy catching fish for its breakfast | IC: Lip Kee from Singapore, Republic of Singapore, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As you set foot in Kokkare Bellur, you’ll be greeted by the lush greenery of the village and the symphony of bird calls. The sanctuary’s diverse ecosystems, from the Kaveri riverbanks to the village tanks and ancient trees, provide a picturesque backdrop for your bird photography.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the true stars of the show—the birds. Kokkare Bellur boasts an impressive array of avian residents. The Painted Stork, with its striking black and white plumage and striking red beak, is a common sight, often seen perched on the treetops. The Spot-billed Pelican, with its massive wingspan, adds grandeur to the sanctuary.

Kokkare Bellur’s riverbanks and village tanks are also home to other remarkable avian species. The Asian Openbill Stork, with its distinct gap between its mandibles, and the Black-crowned Night Heron, with its cryptic plumage, can be spotted foraging for food, offering excellent opportunities for photographers.

Endemic and Migratory Marvels

Caught on camera the beautiful Flight of a Eurasian Marsh Harrier
Caught on camera the beautiful Flight of a Eurasian Marsh Harrier | IC: Shino jacob koottanad, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kokkare Bellur’s allure lies in its ability to host both endemic and migratory birds. The sanctuary is home to several endemic species, including the Indian Cormorant, the Indian Darter, and the Little Egret. These birds can be spotted throughout the year, making Kokkare Bellur a year-round birding destination.

However, for an extraordinary bird photography experience, plan your visit during the migratory season, which typically spans from November to March. This is when Kokkare Bellur becomes a bustling hub for migratory birds from regions as far as Siberia, Central Asia, and Northern Europe. Keep your camera ready to capture the mesmerizing sight of Eurasian Spoonbills, Eurasian Marsh Harriers, and various waders as they grace the serene wetlands.

Planning Your Birding Expedition

So, you’ve decided to embark on a bird photography journey to Kokkare Bellur? Here’s a roadmap to ensure you make the most of your visit:

Local Expertise

While exploring the sanctuary is an adventure in itself, consider seeking the guidance of a local naturalist or guide. They possess invaluable insights into the habits and habitats of the birds, increasing your chances of spotting even the most elusive species. Guides familiar with Kokkare Bellur’s avian residents are available in the village.

Local guides not only enhance your bird photography—they offer a deeper understanding of the sanctuary’s unique relationship between birds and humans. Their expertise adds depth to your birdwatching experience.


For an immersive birding experience, consider staying in nearby towns like Maddur or Mandya. These towns offer a range of accommodations to suit different budgets and provide convenient access to Kokkare Bellur. Staying nearby allows you to maximize your birdwatching opportunities and experience the tranquility of the village.

Ideal Time to Visit

The best time to visit Kokkare Bellur for bird photography largely depends on your preferences. If you’re eager to witness the bustling activity of migratory birds, plan your trip between November and March. During this period, the sanctuary becomes a vibrant hub of avian activity.

However, if you prefer a quieter atmosphere and wish to observe resident species, other months also offer rewarding birdwatching experiences. The monsoon season, from June to September, transforms the sanctuary into a lush green paradise, with several bird species engaged in breeding activities.

Getting There

Accessing Kokkare Bellur is relatively straightforward. If you’re traveling from Bangalore, Karnataka, it’s approximately a 2 to 3-hour drive to reach the sanctuary. The journey takes you through scenic rural landscapes.

Beyond Birdwatching

While Kokkare Bellur is primarily known for its avian population, there’s more to explore:

Village Life

Explore the village of Kokkare Bellur and interact with the local villagers. Learn about their traditional way of life and their deep-rooted connection with the birds. Experience the warm hospitality of the village.

Cultural Insights

Srirangapatnam Fort
The Front view of the Srirangapatnam Fort | IC: Chitra sivakumar, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Visit nearby historical sites like the Melukote temple complex and the Srirangapatna fort to delve into the rich cultural heritage of the region.

Photography Opportunities

Farming crops rural Karnataka
Farming crops rural Karnataka | IC: Ashwin Kumar from Bangalore, India, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Aside from bird photography, the village and its surroundings offer ample opportunities for capturing the essence of rural Karnataka. The picturesque landscapes and traditional architecture make for compelling subjects.

Tips and Techniques

Before you set off on your bird photography adventure to Kokkare Bellur, here are some valuable tips to make the most of your experience:

  • Equipment: Ensure you have a telephoto lens with a focal length of at least 300mm to capture distant birds. Carry extra memory cards and batteries to avoid missing a perfect shot.
  • Silence and Stillness: Birds are sensitive to noise and movement. Maintain a low profile and move quietly to avoid disturbing them. Quick and sudden movements can startle the birds, causing them to fly away.
  • Patience: Bird photography often requires waiting for the perfect moment. Be patient, observant, and ready to seize the opportunity when it arises. Bird behavior can be unpredictable, so stay prepared.
  • Respect Nature and Village: Adhere to the sanctuary rules and guidelines to ensure the well-being of the birds and their habitats. Show respect for the local villagers and their traditions, and seek their permission before photographing them.

In Conclusion

Kokkare Bellur Bird Sanctuary is a unique blend of tradition and avian wonder, where the bonds between humans and birds are celebrated. Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or a novice with a camera, this sanctuary offers an immersive experience that will leave you in awe.

So, pack your camera gear, focus your lens on the feathered wonders, and let the enchantment of Kokkare Bellur be your guiding inspiration. Your journey into this avian Eden awaits.

Anindita Mukherji
Anindita Mukherji
I am a passionate wildlife YouTuber and blogger dedicated to capturing the beauty of birds and wildlife through my camera lens. With a deep love for nature and an insatiable curiosity about history, I try to bring a unique perspective in my videos and blogs, sharing not only stunning images but also the stories and fascinating facts behind the animals I cover. As a passionate advocate for conservation, I am committed to raising awareness about the importance of protecting our planet's precious biodiversity. Through my engaging and informative videos and blogs, I try to inspire people of all ages to connect with nature and take action to safeguard our natural heritage for future generations.

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