The Thattekad Wildlife Sanctuary was given its status in 1983 at the recommendation of Dr Salim Ali, the ornithologist who described it as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India, comparable only with the eastern Himalaya. It is also popularly called the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. Spanning over 25km along the north side of the Periyar River, it comprises tropical evergreen, semi-evergreen and deciduous forests. Thattekad literally means ‘flat forest’.
It is home to as many as 500 species of exotic birds, including the ground thrush, large-billed leaf-warbler, Jerdon’s nightjar, whiskered tern, collared Scops owl, frogmouth, etc, and features 28 species of animals including leopard, sloth bear and porcupine. The nearest airport is Kochi (49km). Hornbill Camp offers cottages outside the sanctuary. The best time to visit is October to March.