The heronry situated near village Palahalli, on islands in the Kaveri River is an exceptional site at any time of year for close views of breeding birds. Heronry supports breeding species like White Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus, Eurasian Spoon Bill Platalea leucorodia, Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans, four varieties of Egrets- Egretta garzetta, Casmerodius albus, Mesophoyx intermedia, Bubulcus ibis; three varieties of Cormorants Phalacrocorax niger, P. fuscicollis & P. Carbo; Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Grey Heron Ardea cineria, Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, Indian River Tern, Greater Stone Plover and Darter Anhinga melanogaster. Heronry recently added Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala and Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis to its expanding breeding birds list. In surrounding fields & quarry one can find Great Horned Owl (=Eurasian Eagle-owl)Bubo bubo, Streak-throated Swallow Hirundo fluvicola, Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii, Steak Ploceus manyar & Baya Weaver P. philippinus birds nesting activity. Definitely the laughing calls of Stork-billed Kingfisher Halcyon capensis will attract birders attention in the surrounding irrigated fields. Here it is possible to study and document the breeding activity in detail. Close view of Bonnet Macaque, Marsh Crocodile and Flying Fox bats is also possible. If you are lucky enough you will chance upon Otters. Boat facility by Forest department provides closer look of the breeding activity, since birds are adjusted to the movement of men & boat, hardly have they got disturbed.

The sanctuary was declared in 1940, at the behest of Salim Ali, father of Indian Ornithology after princely state of Mysore birds’ survey (Ali, S. & H. Whistler, 1942-43). Ranganathittu is a cluster of six islets and one main island formed by the weir across the Kaveri probably in 1640s. The river is quite slow flowing within the sanctuary, with many secluded waterways where it is almost attains stillness, providing just right type of habitat for birds to nest in colonies. (Thejaswi, 2000). Heronry is considered as priority conservation site- Important Bird Area, IBA CODE: IN-KA-31 (Islam & Rahmani, 2005).

Ranganathittu has its own endemic species of plant Iphigenia mysorensis, a relative of the lily found only here and nowhere else in the world.

In winter Indian Blue Robin Luscinia brunne, Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus, Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, Common Swallow Hirundo rustica, Asian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi, Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides, Booted Warbler Hippolais caligata, Blyth’s Warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum, Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus Agricola, Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus and Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga are found here. There is a record of vagrant Lesser Frigate Bird Fregata ariel (Huilgol, 2007), sporadic sighting of resident Grey-headed Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus & Lesser Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga humilis . Even once Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis was sighted near Srirangapattana, nearby Heronry (Umesh, 2001).

Habitat similar to Ranganathittu exists at Gende Hosalli islands, downstream of River few kilometres away, however hardly few colonies have been recorded. But, inconsistently up to 2 dozen Darters breeds in trees grew on sides of feeder canals.

Fig: Foraging breeding birds

Fig: Tickell's Flowerpecker

Fig: Eurasian Spoonbill

References and further reading:

  1. Ali, S. & H. Whistler. 1942-43. The birds of Mysore. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. Vol.43:130-147, 318-341, 573-595; Vol. 44: 9-26, 208-220.
  2. Huilgol, Ajit K. 2007. Sighting of the Lesser Frigate Bird Fregata ariel at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka. Indian Birds. 3(3): 103–104
  3. Islam, M.Z. & A.R. Rahmani. 2005. Important Bird Areas in India: Priority sites for conservation. Mumbai: Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society and BirdLife International (UK). P 574.
  4. Krishnan, M. 1980. The availability of nesting materials and nesting sites as vital factors in the gregarious breeding of Indian water-birds. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 75(Suppl.): 1143–1152
  5. Mathur, H. N. 1980. Floods in Ranganathittu. Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 20(3): 12
  6. Nagulu, V.; Rao, J. V. Ramana 1983. Survey of South Indian Pelicanries. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 80(1): 141–143
  7. Neginhal, S. G. 1976. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 16(2): 1–4
  8. Neginhal, S. G. 1976. Raptors of Ranganathittu. Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 16(9): 6–7
  9. Neginhal, S. G. 1980. Floods in Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary. Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 20(1): 8–9
  10. Neginhal, S. G. 1983. The birds of Ranganathittu. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 79(3): 581–593
  11. Pittie, Aasheesh, 2011. Bibliography of South Asian Ornithology. http://www.southasiaornith.in.
  12. Serrao, J. S. 1976. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 16(3): 14–15
  13. Shivanand, T.; Shivaprakash, A. 2004. Indian Blue Robin Luscinia brunnea winters at Chamundi Hill and Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Mysore, South India. Newsletter for Ornithologists. 1(4): 54–56
  14. Sridhar, S. 1991. Flash floods ravage Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary. Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 31(7&8)
  15. Umesh Srinivasn. 2001. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bngbirds/message/1629
  16. Thejaswi, S. 2000. Ranganathittu- a bird paradise. Publication of the Mysore Amateur Naturalists with support from WWF-India and ICEF