The Kashmir Valley has been fabled down the ages for its natural beauty. It has best been described as an emerald set in pearls, with 'emerald' describing the lush, fertile Kashmir Valley and 'pearls' representing the lofty snow-clad Himalayan peaks that encircle it. The valley is home to a rich biodiversity which includes a large number of bird species, many of which are unique to Kashmir. Unfortunately it's environment is being seriously degraded by the combined onslaught of violence, pollution, global warming and habitat destruction due to human encroachment, unplanned tourism and deforestation.

India's best-known ornithologist Salim Ali once called Kashmir "heaven on earth for migratory birds". Indeed the local people are much more aware of the migratory ducks and geese rather than the resident species and not much seems to have changed from the 1890's when W.R. Lawrence commented that "birds have a happy and carefree existence in the country" .... "the Kashmiri knows little about birds ..... and though he takes considerable interest in the songbirds he is ignorant of the habits of the feathered kingdom."

Not surprisingly organised birding in the Valley is virtually non-existent and no bird-specific organisations exist. My own efforts to create a project of this magnitude were kick-started by the realisation that my two sons could immediately identify an alien species like a Hornbill or Flamingo from a photograph in a book but could not name the liquid-voiced Golden Orioles nesting in our garden.

[2022 Update: My sons have grown up since these lines were written many years ago. Both are avid naturalists and Jamshed is now the primary photographer responsible for most of the the newer photographs on this website.]

This website is intended as a ready reference for birding enthusiasts. The long term goal is to document the bird species of Kashmir for posterity since bird populations [all wildlife populations in general] are rapidly declining throughout the valley. From its modest beginnings, this first-of-its-kind internet project - the Birds of Kashmir website - has gone on to receive international recognition and is linked to several of the leading avian databases on the internet. Along with the other sites on the Kashmir Network it is part of an excellent collection of resources for anyone interested in the natural history and culture of the Valley.

This website is primarily concerned with birds of the Kashmir Valley - which is one of the two divisions of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir while Ladakh is a separate Union Territory. Existing checklists incorporate data from the entire erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir - comprising of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh divisions - thereby giving rise to confusion in the distribution details. For example the Eurasian Collared Dove may be classified as a common resident in Kashmir but is actually a summer visitor completely absent during the winter months.

Comments and constructive criticism are welcome at
Happy Birding !


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