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Location India, Karnataka
Central coordinates 75o 1.50' East  14o 26.50' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4i
Area 74 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Gudavi Bird Sanctuary is one of the well-known bird sanctuaries of Karnataka. It is located 13 km from Sorab and 0.5 km from Gudavi village, in Shimoga district. Gudavi, a traditional nesting habitat for a number of colonial waterbirds, appears to have been in existence for well over a century. The Sanctuary is a medium-sized tank of 30 ha with a raised bund, bordered on the eastern and southwestern sides by open, moist, deciduous forest. The waterspread area has been demarcated into a small southern and a much larger northern sector by raised bunds. The smaller sector harbours heronry where 12 species of waterbirds breed from July to November. The northern sector is inhabited by a variety of resident and migratory waterbirds. Vitex leucoxylon, Kirganelia reticulata and Phyllanthus polyphyllus trees in the tank provide these birds with good nesting sites (Manjrekar 2000). On its northern side, the Sanctuary has agricultural fields. The water from the tank is used for irrigating paddy fields on the eastern side of the Varada river, which flows 0.5 km from the Sanctuary (Lal et al. 1994). The tank gets flooded during the monsoon and becomes shallow and dry during summer. The average depth of water in the heronry is 1.5 m and the maximum depth is about 2 m. The vegetation around the tank is Moist Evergreen Deciduous type. The tank has floating lilies and Azolla, among other water plants. Tree species on the periphery are dominated by Vitex leucoxylon and Phyllanthus polyphyllus.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Gudavi is very popular with birdwatchers. Gururaja et al. (1993) have identified 254 species. The Sanctuary harbours 10-12 thousand birds of various species. Subramanya (1996) lists Gudavi as one of the top 10 heronries in India. It provides traditional nesting sites for more than 5,000 White or Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephala every year (B. B. Hosetti pers. comm. 2003). BirdLife International (2001) has listed the Black-headed Ibis as one of the Near Threatened species. Wetlands International (2002) states that the 1% biogeographical population of this species is only 100. Therefore, Gudavi Bird Sanctuary holds a significant global population of this species. Other species found nesting are cormorants, herons and egrets. Near Threatened species include Greater Grey-headed Fishing Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus, Malabar Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros coronatus and Darter Anhinga melanogaster. In the surrounding forest, three restricted range (endemic) species of the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area are found.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: As this is a small wetland sanctuary for birds, surrounded by agricultural fields and human habitation, large mammals are absent.

However, Bonnet Macaque Macaca radiata, Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Black-naped Hare Lepus nigricollis and Golden Jackal Canis aureus are seen in the environs. The tank water holds a significant population of several hundred Peninsular Mud Turtle or the Indian Flapshell Lissemys punctata (Ragunatha 1993).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus resident  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Indian Vulture Gyps indicus non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Malabar Parakeet Psittacula columboides resident  2004  present  A2  Least Concern 
Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus resident  2004  present  A2  Least Concern 
White-bellied Treepie Dendrocitta leucogastra resident  2004  present  A2  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2003 high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - soil erosion, sedimentation happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Gudavi Bird Sanctuary Sanctuary 74 is identical to site 74  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -
Artificial - aquatic   -
Artificial - terrestrial   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Tourism and recreation

Acknowledgements Key contributors: B. B. Hosetti and K. V. Gururaja.


BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Gururaja, K. V., Aravinda, N. A. and Raghunatha, V. (1993) Checklist of Birds of Shimoga and Gudavi. Pp. 77-80. In Bird Conservation Strategies for the Nineties and beyond (eds. Verghese, A. Sridhar, S. and Chakravarthy, A. K.). Ornithological Society of India, Bangalore.

Lal, R., Kothari, A., Pande, P. and Singh, S. (Eds.) (1994) Directory of National Parks and Sanctuaries in Karnataka, Management Status and Profiles. Center for Public Policy, Planning and Environmental Studies, Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi.

Manjrekar, N. (ed.) (2000) A Walk on the Wild Side Karnataka Forest Department, Wildlife Wing, Bangalore.

Ragunatha V. (1993) Final report on an Ecological study of waterbirds at Gudavi Bird Sanctuary. Report submitted to WWF-India, New Delhi.

Subramanya, S. (1996) Distribution, status and conservation of Indian Heronries. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 93: 459-486.

Wetlands International (2002) Waterbird Population Estimates: Third Edition. Wetlands International Global Series No. 12, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Gudavi Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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