Society

The pretty Indian Pitta

Birders in Bangalore have been talking about the colourful Indian Pitta (Pitta brachyura) in various parts of Bangalore. The small, 20 cm, stubby-tailed bird, has a brilliantly-coloured plumage, but is shy and can be heard more than seen. A resident species, this Pitta breeds in the north of India but comes down south, to escape the harsh winters in the north. Happily for us the bird can be seen almost anywhere on its migratory path. Pittas are passerine birds, meaning they perch on branches and can be found mainly in tropical Asia and Australasia. The name Pitta is derived from the Telegu word pitta which means a small bird and it is called Arumani kuruvi or 6 ‘o clock bird in Tamil.

Dr Vasanth Joshi says: “The Indian pitta is a sub-Himalayan bird that winters in Southern India. It is a visitor to the Bengaluru area. Recently someone rescued a bird from a residential complex in the city where it crashed, exhausted from its flight. The Bangalore Bird Count in May 2014 has also recorded sighting of the bird too.”

“I usually see the pitta in the Nandi Hills in the botanical garden area,” says Bopanna Pattada who runs a website called BangaloreBirding.com. “The bird is very shy and one has to stay motionless in order to get a photograph of it. It calls at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., so if one is around early in the morning when it calls, it becomes easier to find the bird, as it hops about on the ground poking around in leaf litter for worms and insects. The pitta looks best in flight since it displays a brilliant blue that is otherwise hidden under the wings.”

Pittas are mainly seen in dense undergrowth, hopping around on the ground, industriously foraging for insects. It has long, strong legs, a very short tail and stout beak, with a buff coloured crown stripe, black coronal stripes, a thick black eye stripe and white throat and neck. The upperparts of its plumage are green, with a blue tail, the underparts buff, with bright red on the lower belly and vent.

The long migratory distance sometimes overcomes the bird and sadly instances of exhausted birds or even dead birds have been reported by birders in the city. “A dead adult Indian Pitta was noticed at this evening on a side walk next to a park in Banashankari,” said Srinivasa TS. “On closer examination, no external injury marks or signs of damage to the plumage and the body were found.”

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 12:44:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/the-pretty-indian-pitta/article6567926.ece

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