Nine birds of different hues and colours that are commonly found in urban spaces
We all know that the national bird of India is the Peacock, but do you know how many species of birds are found in India? Take a Google-free guess:
A. Less than 500
B. Between 500 to 1000
C. Around 1500
D. Around 2000
The correct answer is C : Yes, over 1300 different species of birds are found in India! A few hundred of these species are usually found in and around urban spaces, but the average apartment dweller will be lucky if she manages to see even 10 of these during the course of her condo life! No wonder then that we have difficulty discerning our Blue Jay from the Kingfisher or the Koel (Cuckoo) from the Papiha (Brain fever bird) on our jaunts to the forests of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
City dwellers have a strange relationship with birds. On the one hand, we marvel at the beauty of their plumage, are captivated by their early morning chatter and inspired by their graceful flights. Many of us also leave out grain and drinking bowls, and watching them play offers a welcome distraction during hot summer months. On the other, we almost take them for granted – we spend days wandering the jungles in search of tigers and sambars and bisons, but rarely make the same effort for a peek into the world of birds.
To celebrate the end of our Colours issue and the onset of the Environment issue, we requested passionate birder and eminent wild life photographer Ramki Sreenivasan for a photo essay on some of the birds that are commonly found in cities and their outskirts. Enjoy their mesmerizing beauty, and don’t forget to look out for them next time you peep out of your window!
(Bird names and description are below the image)
White Cheeked Barbet:
A larger cousin of the Coppersmith, this highly vocal Barbet is exclusive to South India. It excavates nest cavities in trees using its large and powerful bill.
A sparrow sized bird with a crimson forehead and throat, the Coppersmith is best known for its mechanically regular metallic call that has been likened to a coppersmith striking a hammer.
The Jungle Babbler is a highly social bird that feeds in small groups of six to ten, hence earning the popular sobriquet of “Seven Sisters”!
One of the smallest kingfishers found in India, the Common Kingfisher is characterised by its short tail, a long bill and plumage of blue on the outside and orange on the inner side.
Primarily an insect eater thanks to its long, thin, tapering bill, the Hoopoe has a distinctive ‘crown of feathers’.
The Red Munia, or the strawberry finch, is a sparrow-sized bird that is frequently and illegally caught for the cage bird business. (Editors’ Note: Remember the Goldfinch?)
Green Bee Eater
As its name suggests, the slim and attractive Green Bea Eater with an elongated tail (not visible in the picture) predominantly eats insects – especially bees, wasps and ants.
This medium sized, slender black & white cuckoo with a distinctive crest is a migrant to the Indian subcontinent.
Common Tailor Bird
A common resident of urban gardens, the Common Tailor Bird is popular for its nest made of large leaves that have been “sewn” together (hence the name!)
Ramki Sreenivasan is a Bangalore-based technology entrepreneur, birder and wildlife photographer. He co-founded Conservation India in January 2012 – a non-profit, non-commercial portal that facilitates wildlife and nature conservation. All images and accompanying text are the property of Ramki. You may link to the article or images, but please do not reproduce without prior written permission.
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