By Dhanush N Reddy*
It is not difficult to spot a bird. Spend a day in your nearest park, looking at a tree sifting in the early morning sun, and one way or another you will spot a bunch of birds. Warblers, Myna, Bulbuls, Barbets, White Eyes, and even Crows, the variety will be enormous and one of these birds will most likely catch your attention and then you realize that is the most blissful moment of your life.
Birds are literally all around us; no matter where you live, there are birds around you. Perhaps not a great number of birds, perhaps not many bird species, but they are there. Just as you gaze out of your window, you find birds!
Sit tight and motionless in a forest and you have a fair chance of spotting a tiny, colourful feathered sunbird along the branches of trees or even over the ground – a sudden unexpected noise makes it freeze, its small glittery eye wide open. In birding, it is always about surprise and fun facts, for instance, some ducks sleep with one eye open. When they nap in groups, the ducks on the perimeter keep guard by sleeping with one eye open, while the other ducks sleep more deeply.
Contrary to all interests, birding is non-seasonal. It may change with seasons – Spring is the time for migratory birds and Summers for the young ones. Considerably, most of the birds are seen where you find food like fish, nuts, nectar, insect larvae, which are full of calories. Birds favour them because flying is an energetic exercise.
Main Habitats And Bird Species:
Many species of birds make long annual journeys and many are native and they require mixed types of habitats. The habitats can be divided into forest, marine, grasslands, agricultural land, desert, scrub, and wetlands. There are seasonal visitors like the European stork, which travels every autumn down to Africa and returns to Europe with such accuracy that year after year it will return to the same place.
Forests of today are very much the same, in essence, as those developed hundreds of years ago. It has the same ambience and is a highly suitable habitat for birds; if you want to spot Warblers and Bulbuls, forest is your place! Forest areas of any region are vitally important for many of its birds. When I spotted this beautiful Bulbul it was feeding from sprouted leaves on ground.
Where forest is over exploited for fodder and fuel, there exists a large area of scrubland. Scrub is developed in the region where trees are unable to grow. Relatively, few birds in the subcontinent are characteristic of scrub habitats alone, but many are found in scrub mixed with grassland or at forest edges. Here you can see Ashy Prinia, which occur in all habitats but spotted in scrub.
• Ashy Prinia:
It is a widespread resident unrecorded from parts of the northwest, has a white supercilium, a slight grey crown, and ear coverts with a red eye. Non-breeding birds acquire a short eyebrow and a longer tail. Usually occurring in ones and twos, it can be quite bold and fearless. It has a loud ringing song that is given year-round and a plain nasal call – voice is wheezy-jimmy-jimmy-jimmy.
• Indian Silverbill
Indian Silverbill, usually found near dry open scrub, fallow land, and cultivation, caught my sight on a sunny morning. Also called ‘White-throated Munia’, it is gregarious and feeds on the ground or on low shrubs and grass stalks.
Wetlands are abundant in the region and support a rich array of Waterfowl. Along with providing habitats for breeding resident species, they include major staging and wintering grounds for waterfowl breeding in the world. Glacial lakes, freshwater and brackish marshes, and large water-storage reservoirs are the places where you find the birds roosting. It also provides feeding and nesting areas for large countable birds such as Painted Storks, Pelicans, Eurasian Spoonbills etc.
It is easy to identify Pelicans, because they are one of the only birds with a pouch under their bill. Along with the giant pouch, Pelicans are a large bird with short legs, and they appear rather clumsy on land. Once in water, they are strong swimmers, thanks to their webbed feet. They are usually found in places where there are fishes, large lakes, reservoirs, coastal lagoons, and estuaries.
• Night Heron:
Their name is a reference to their long, thin legs, which are ideal for wading in shallow waters while foraging for food. They use their partially webbed toes to help them swim in deeper water to search for marine invertebrates and insects. Surprisingly, these birds use a series of loud piping sounds to communicate. Call includes kek…kek and a rather anxious kikikikiki.
Joy of Capturing Birds!!
Amidst this pandemic I was bored sitting at home due to lock down in my town and I decided to go to the terrace and enjoy watching birds! Bangalore is a home to many Black Kites. I was bird watching and out of nowhere I encountered two kites fighting, which is often referred to as ‘Dog fight’.
From their sparrow-like appearance and black head, it is easy to locate them. They have very shrill calls often confused with sunbirds, so for a first timer it might be difficult to spot them just by hearing calls. Cinereous tit is known for its strong beak with which it breaks open nuts and even kills other birds in flight to reach their brain!
Rose Ringed Parakeet:
I was birding on a sunny day on my terrace and heard a parakeet singing very close by and I encountered a very beautiful composition where the parakeet was sun kissed. Thereafter, I spotted it almost on a regular basis eating magnolia champaca seeds.
I consider monsoon to be the best time to bird watch when birds are at their most active and fly into parks in their droves. Usually found everywhere, many times I have seen them chasing away other Sunbirds from a plant where they regularly feed. Their call has a softer tone as compared to other Sunbirds.
Anyone who birds a favourite park over and over knows intuitively why they keep going back. It just feels good! Being in nature pausing in it, sitting with it, discovering its wonders brings a sense of calm and renewal. That is when I spotted this beauty and captured it right in time.
While searching for the Warblers, I was fortunate to find myself surrounded by many other species of birds. Some beautiful, some spectacular, some fascinating but one of the most overlooked species was the ever-present Rufous Treepie. It is found in a wide range of habitats from woodlands to scrubby patches, singly or in pairs feeding in treetops. The call is a loud metallic “krowwiiii kroo”.
*Author is a mechanical engineering student residing at Bangalore. Interest in the nomenclature of birds made him an enthusiastic bird photographer and gave him all the patience in the world to wait for birds to show up. His birding life began at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary where he got to interact with Ornithologists about migratory birds and a few fascinating facts. He has travelled to many states to capture the beauty of birds and his bird species count is 71…. still counting!