Best time to travel to Bhutan

Black-Necked Cranes in Bhutan

These beautiful and endangered birds are a symbol of Bhutan

Best time: late October–mid-February

Black-Necked Cranes
Black-Necked Cranes
Black-Necked Cranes

When black-necked cranes come to Bhutan, they bring winter. Every year these rare and gorgeous birds leave the Tibetan Plateau and pass the dangerous Himalayan peaks in order to reach their winter grounds in Bhutan and India.

There are several locations where the birds land, but Phobjikha Valley hosts the largest groups from the late October till the middle of February. It is almost impossible to get really close to cranes, so birdwatchers usually settle in the nearby areas with binoculars or visit the crane centre, where all necessary equipment is available for fine observation.

Black-necked cranes are famous for their mating dance, when both the female and male bow to each other with wings wide-open, leap in a synchronised rhythm and make loud clicking and bugling sounds.

In addition to visiting Phobjikha Valley for birdwatching, you can attend the Black-Necked Crane Festival held in the Gangteng Monastery in November. Local children dress in costumes of black cranes and simulate their dance during the festival. Meanwhile, real birds usually fly high in the sky above people's' heads.

Practical info

When is the ideal time for observing the Black-Necked Cranes in Bhutan?

The ideal time for observing Black-Necked Cranes in Bhutan is from late October to mid-February when they migrate from Tibet to spend the winter season. The birds usually gather in Phobjikha Valley, with the largest groups seen during this season. The Black-Necked Crane Festival is also held in November at the Gangteng Monastery, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to witness local traditions and the majestic bird species. Show more

What is the location in Bhutan with the most significant bird population of Black-Necked Cranes?

Phobjikha Valley is the location in Bhutan with the most significant population of Black-Necked Cranes. This is where the birds migrate from Tibet to spend the winter from late October to mid-February. Visitors can observe the birds from nearby areas using specialized equipment or visit the crane centre located in this valley for finer bird watching. Show more

What measures must visitors take to ensure the Black-Necked Cranes in Bhutan are not disturbed during observation?

Visitors who plan to observe the Black-Necked Cranes in Bhutan are recommended to maintain a safe distance from them to avoid causing disturbance. The crane centre provides appropriate equipment to observe birds up-close while ensuring that the animals are not disturbed. The birds are most active during early morning or late afternoon, making it the best time for bird watching. Show more

What does the Black-Necked Crane's mating ritual entail?

The Black-Necked Crane's mating dance is a fascinating and unique spectacle that can be witnessed in Bhutan. During the dance, both the male and female birds bow to each other, stretch their wings, leap in synchrony, and make clicking and bugling sounds. This dance is performed as part of the bird's courtship ritual to attract a mate. Show more

Can visitors attend any annual events that celebrate the Black-Necked Cranes in Bhutan?

In Bhutan, visitors can attend the Black-Necked Crane Festival held in November at the Gangteng Monastery. During the festival, locals dress in black crane costumes and simulate the birds' dance, while the real birds can be seen flying around in the sky. This festival provides visitors with an opportunity to experience Bhutan's unique cultural and wildlife heritage in an exciting way. Show more

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