Three White Bellied Herons - Sangay, Choe and Gedun Tagged To Study Their Movements And Lifestyle


According to officials, the birds did not exhibit any discomforting behaviour after being tagged with the devices.

(Source: Kuensel)


By Tshering Palden Kuensel

On the morning of May 14, three white bellied herons - Sangay, Choe, and Gedun were tagged with Global Positioning System (GPS) at the Kisonachu, Wangdue along the Wangdue-Tsirang highway.

The purpose is to monitor and study the movement patterns and lifestyle of these critically endangered birds.

According to officials, the birds did not exhibit any discomforting behaviour after being tagged with the devices.

A team remained to continue monitoring the birds for some hours. “The parents and juveniles didn’t show any abnormal family behaviour,” an official said.


Photo: The Mileage Org


An ecologist with the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), Rebecca Pradhan said that this is an important exercise in the conservation efforts for these hermit-like folks. 

The three juvenile herons are named after the Triple Gems (also known as Konchosum (དཀོན་མཆོག་གསུམ་) which refers to the Buddha, Dharma - his teachings and sangha - his followers).

The trio were about 40-45 days old when researchers from the RSPN and the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment Research (UWICER) fixed the tracking devices on them.

Sherub (PhD) from the UWICER led the GPS tagging exercise and the tagging materials were supported by the Maxplanck Institute for Ornithology (MPIO), Germany.  

Rebecca Pradhan said that the study would help them learn about the survival of these endangered juveniles.

The RSPN first tagged two juvenile birds in 2016 at Burichhu, with the help of an expert - Peske (PhD), a freelance ecological consultant from the Czech Republic. They were tagged in the process of rescuing the juveniles.

Where are white bellied herons found?

According to its records, there are between 50 and 249 white bellied herons in the world. The heron had already become extinct in Nepal but they can still be found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Myanmar.

Global distribution range of white bellied herons.

 Map: Bird Life International


Bhutan has 25 adult white bellied herons, the most in the entire world. This is according to the latest survey this year conducted across 30 known and potential habitats of the elusive birds within the districts of Punakha, Wangdue, Tsirang, Dagana, Sarpang, Zhemgang, Mongar and Pemagatshel.

A team from RSPN and forestry officials spotted the nest on March 2, during the annual white bellied heron population survey 2019.

The first egg was found on March 4 and in the next five days, there were three more eggs. The nest is located in the middle of the riparian broad-leaved forest which is located 50-60m from the river.

Habitats of the white bellied herons

The birds are found along rivers (usually with sand or gravel bars) often within or adjacent to subtropical/tropical broadleaved forest, from the lowlands up to at least 1,500 metres. They usually live near marshes or lakes near wet grasslands.

Photo: Species on the Brink


These creatures are generally solitary but they have also been seen to aggregate into small flocks and family groups during winter.

These rare species also tend to frequent inaccessible and undisturbed areas and are known to breed and roost in Chir pine forest.

Four nests found in Bhutan from 2003-2007 were solitary and located in large Chir pine forests on ridges or steep slopes at altitudes of 500 -1,500m, near the confluence of a small forest stream with a larger river.

Nesting normally takes place between March till early June where the birds travel up to 30km to feed on sand bars in large braided river systems during winter.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorised the bird as critically endangered as its population has been decreasing annually.


This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.


Related Posts

Sightings Of White Bellied Herons Declining In Bhutan

The White Bellied Herons are secretive birds, often intolerant of close proximity to humans.

Dec 05, 2018 22:03

Three Black-Necked Cranes In Bhutan Tagged With GPS Transmitters...

The data collected, officials say, will be invaluable for the protection of this endangered species.

Feb 10, 2019 19:11

‘Heavenly Birds’ Which Do Not Forsake Their Own Kind, Bumdeling...

As of 21 December, 83 cranes have arrived in the in Bumdeling Valley.

Dec 24, 2018 15:23

Phobjikha Valley Sees Increasing Number Of Black-Necked Cranes –...

Since October, close to 270 black-necked cranes have already arrived in the Phobjikha Valley.

Nov 28, 2018 20:23

Discover The Wonders Of The Black-Necked Crane Festival – A Day...

This unique festival will leave a lasting impression on you. With more than a hundred villagers participating, see the...

Nov 09, 2018 21:39

A Paradise For Birds, Horned Lark Discovery Takes Total Bird...

The horned lark which is about 18 cm long, resides in the high Himalayas.

Dec 27, 2018 15:37



Bhutan’s Tarayana Foundation Launched Micro-loans For Rural Community Development

The pilot phase of the programme will start from this year in Samtse, Tsirang and Zhemgang for 18 months.

Feb 21, 2020 23:48

Bhutan Kickstarts First Ever Space Week – Hopes To Spark Interest In Space Technology

Since the launch of Bhutan’s first satellite, Bhutan-1, the space sector has garnered a lot of interest in the country.

Feb 17, 2020 23:18


Tribes Of Bhutan - The Brokpas

Merak and Sakteng is home to the Brokpas, a semi-nomadic yak herding tribe who originated from the Tshoona region of Tibet.

Feb 22, 2020 23:48

Symbolism Of The Colourful Prayer Flags Of Bhutan

Learn about the rich symbolism of the colourful prayer flags of Bhutan.

Feb 16, 2020 23:28


Karma – Female Archer From Bhutan Qualified For Tokyo 2020 Olympic Quota

Karma has been specialising in Olympics-style archery since 2009.

Nov 30, 2019 13:18

Bhutan’s Pelden Wangchuk Wins 10th Edition Of Tour 0f Dragon Mountain Bike Race

This year, the race also saw the highest number of female participants compared to past years.

Sep 10, 2019 01:08


Centre Of Excellence For Software Engineering Launched By Bhutan’s Thimphu Techpark

The purpose of establishing this centre is to fulfil His Majesty the King’s vision of using technology to solve problems.

Feb 24, 2020 23:58

Two ‘Made In Bhutan’ Products To Hit The Market Soon, Also Eyeing Overseas Foray

Druk Peci and Bhutan Green Product were launched on 19 February.

Feb 20, 2020 23:38


Forging the Unbeaten Trail Towards Wangdue Nye

When you dedicate year 2020 to hike on unbeaten trails in Bhutan.

Jan 21, 2020 10:58

Make Your Own Personalised Stamps And Discover Bhutan’s Postal History At The Postal Museum

The Bhutan Postal Museum in Thimphu is also a major tourist attraction.

Jan 18, 2020 21:08


See Exquisite Garments On Display At The ‘Royal Robes - Wangchuck Dynasty’ Exhibition

The exhibition will remain open to the public until January 2021.

Feb 19, 2020 23:28

Nightlife in Bhutan

The nightlife is delaying the day by engaging with fun and recreational activities at owl hours. Thimphu Nightlife could fascinate you.

Feb 08, 2020 12:22

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!