This is the first bird sanctuary in Kerala. Named after the legendary ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali, Thattekad bird sanctuary is one of the important bird sanctuaries of India. Dr. Salim Ali described the sanctuary in the 1930's as the richest bird habitat in Peninsular India, comparable only with the Eastern Himalayas.
The sanctuary was notified in 1983, based on a recommendation made by Dr. Salim Ali many years back. Though much has changed since Dr. Ali's survey and parts of the forest have made way for teak and mahogany plantations, what survives today continues to be an unparalleled haven for the flora and fauna wealth of Kerala. Ironically, the number of birds found in the sanctuary shows a marked increase from the original survey of 1930 carried out by Dr. Salim Ali. 'Thattekad' literally means flat forest.
The region is an evergreen lowland forest located between the branches of Periyar river in the Malayattoor forest division. The sanctuary is in the catchments of the Bhoothathankett dam. Spread over an area of 25 sq. km, it is home to over 322 species of birds, including the crimson throated Barbet, Sun Bird and Fairy Blue Bird. Among these, 17% of birds migrate from foreign countries. Birds from as far as Siberia and Canada also visit here.
Birds from Siberia travel over 7,000 kms. and reach Thattekad in 9 10 days. These include the large Siberian Stork and birds which weigh only 25 grams. Indeed nature's wonder! When birds from all over India are included, a total of 42 % bird species visit this exclusive sanctuary. Others are domestic birds.
The weather remains pleasant throughout the year at Thattekad. Though, Kerala is a good destination to visit during the monsoon season (June - September), it is advisable not to visit the sanctuary during this rainy season. Large parts of the sanctuary become inaccessible because of the heavy rains. The best season to visit Thattekad is from October to March.