Veteran ornithologist H. G. Alexander spent a full day at the park compiling a list of over a hundred species of bird at Bharatpur. This is an indication of the enjoyment that the sanctuary can provide. Some 377 species have been spotted at Bharatpur Sanctuary, making it one of the most inviting destinations in the world for ornithologists, amateurs and nature lovers. Various species of indigenous water birds, waterside birds, migratory water birds, land migratory birds, and domestic land species are found here. There are approximately 56 different families of birds, of which the Passeriformes (156 species) and Charadriformes (56 species) dominate. One-third of birds at Bharatpur are migrants, many of whom spend their winters before returning to their breeding grounds in the Arctic and Central Asia.
The bird most popular among tourists and ornithologists is the Siberian crane. According to field experts, this bird is known to travel distances of up to 6,500 km migrating from the Ob River basin region (Aral mountains, Siberia). Conservationists are working hard to protect the Siberian crane species as they are on the verge of extinction. Apart from Feredunkenar in Iran, Bharatpur Sanctuary is the only place where the Siberian crane migrates. The cranes arrive in December and stay until early March. According to ornithologists, unlike its Indian counterpart the Siberian crane feeds on Cypress Rotents grass (an underground aquatic root). The intriguing fact is that Siberian cranes have a mixed diet of vegetation, fish and other small creatures back home, but they adopt a vegetarian diet during their stay in India.
Other 'guests' at Bharatpur include huge birds like Dalmatian pelicans, which are two meters in length, and minute ones like the Siberian leaf warbler, which is merely the size of our index finger! Several other species of cranes-corcomorants, egrets, darters, herons, storks, geese, ducks, eagles, hawks, shanks, stints, wagtails, wheatears, flycatchers, buntings, larks, spoonbills, kingfishers, owls and pipits-also make Bharatpur their temporary abode.
Bharatpur heronry is one of its kind and bustles with zealous activity. The production of chicks during the breeding season is put at about 30,000. This avian kingdom also hosts mammalian species like nilgai, sambhar, chital, black bucks, jungle cat and the wild boar. The large rock python (which is spotted at Python Point beyond Keoladeo temple) as well as its nemesis, the mongoose, are found in appreciable numbers. However, spotting a duel between the two is purely a matter of chance.
The mode of transport for getting around the sanctuary is a bicycle. Cycle-rickshaws may also be hired. Boats are available for hire from the ticket checkpoint. Boating is an excellent idea for getting around the Keoladeo Lake and observing the birds at close quarters.