A.M. Aravind’s Twitter project aims to put up 365 photographs of birds found in and around the city, one each day…

Do you know what Rufous Treepie is called in Tamil? Did you know that it can be spotted at the Theosophical Society in Chennai? Or that you can look forward a great photo-op of the Common Hoopoe at Broken Bridge in Adyar? Every day on Twitter, over 800 followers of entrepreneur A.M. Aravind’s Twitter account for bird enthusiasts (@amabirdman) learn all these and more. Aravind posts one bird picture a day on this handle, giving the word ‘tweets’ a whole new meaning!

“I started birding about three years ago when I made a trip to Top Slip, near Coimbatore. Before going on the trip, I read up a bit about birds and learned what to look for,” says Aravind, who was until recently based out of Chennai. “Soon I realised there were a lot of species right in and around Chennai.” Over the last three years, he has gone birding every weekend. “I have a lot of pictures of the birds I spotted at these outings. If I post them all together on Facebook, not many people will pay attention to the birds. So I decided to post one bird picture a day for 365 days,” he informs. “This way, every day one bird gets attention.”

Aravind has posted close to 120 bird pictures so far. From the Ashy Prinia (Saambal Kadhir Kuruvi) gathering silk cotton for its nest to the Common Myna, the birding enthusiast has been posting pictures regularly and has never repeated a picture, even though he has sometimes repeated a species. On the information he gathers for these posts, Aravind says, “I read a few books such as Salim Ali’s Book Of Indian Birds.” However, Aravind never relies on one source. “I cross-check my facts with various sources. City folk may be new to birds, but I have found that in smaller places and suburbs locals and farmers invariably know the Tamil name of birds; that also helps,” he says.

“I have lived in Chennai for six years, but until three years ago, I hadn’t even noticed that there were so many varieties of birds right in Vadapalani, where I lived! I would travel to suburbs and lakes such as Nanmangalam to spot them. Then I started focussing around the Vadapalani area where I managed to spot 20 to 30 species, including woodpeckers!”

Aravind posts his bird picture by 9 a.m. every day, and “on some days I get delayed and people tweet asking about the picture!”To amateur birders looking to get lucky in the city, Aravind offers some tips. “There’s a Wikipedia page that lists all the birds of Chennai. On India Birds, you can listen to the calls of Indian birds. You can listen to the calls of those birds and go out equipped. Some of the birds have very peculiar calls and you just have to pay attention to spot them. And, always keep a look out for movement in trees.”

By the way, the Rufous Treepie is called Karunchivappu Vaal-kaagam and the Common Hoopoe is called Kondalathi in Tamil.


Birds spotted around Vadapalani temple

Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Little Cormorant, Shikra, Black Kite, Ashy Prinia, Red-Vented Bulbul, Golden Oriole, Scaly-Breasted Munia, Purple-Rumped Sunbird, Common Tailorbird, Asian Koel, Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker, Coppersmith Barbet, Rose-Ringed Parakeet, Black Drongo, Ashy Drongo,, White-Browed Wagtail, White-Throated Kingfisher, Common Myna, Rock Dove, Common House Sparrow, House Crow and Jungle Crow