Homes and gardens

Black and white birds in nature

Black and white television sets, movies and photographs might be a thing of the past, but the colour combination continues to rule in nature. From zebras and dalmatians to pandas and sergeant butterflies, the classic shades are also seen in a variety of birds.

While a few are completely white and some fully black, it is the blend of the two colours which is striking — the pied avocet, paradise fly catcher, blacked-headed white ibis, white-browed wagtail, magpie robin, coot, pied bushchat, heart-spotted woodpecker and the pied-kingfisher.

Black and white birds in nature

Though many birds such as the green parakeet, blue jay, red cardinal, yellow oriole, scarlet minivet, rose finch, orange thrush, brown kite, purple sunbird and the pink flamingo are known for their stunning colours, the stark black and white birds too are impressive in their own vintage shades.

Pied avocet is a winter visitor and passage migrant with a distinctive black and white pattern and an upcurved beak, earning its zoological name, Recurvirostra.

It’s are often seen in shallow alkaline and brackish pools or in coastal wetlands, foraging on small crustaceans, molluscs and insects.

The paradise flycatcher is referred to as ribbon-vaal kuruvi by the locals because of its long tail-streamers. The male bird has a black crested-head with a white upper body.

Often spotted in wooded areas, even in heavily urbanised cities, it can be seen perched with an upright stance on the canopy of trees, darting swiftly to catch flies and other insects.

Black-headed white ibis also known as Oriental Ibis, is a stocky white bird with a black bald head, neck and legs and stout down-curved sickle-shaped bill. It is seen commonly as it’s known to frequent marshy wetlands, lakes, paddy fields, tidal creeks, mudflats, and coastal lagoons for fish, frogs and insects. The specific epithet of its binomial, Threskiornis melanocephalus, means ‘black-headed’.

Black and white birds in nature

The white-browed wagtail is a widespread resident with a black head, black mantle and white supercilium. A typical ground bird that wags its tail up and down.

Black winged stilt is a long-legged, graceful waders, found in marshlands. It’s often found in large colonies feeding on insects, aquatic invertebrates and small fish with its fine straight needle like bill.

The oriental magpie robin, a distinctive black and white insectivorous species is a spirited whistling songbird with a cocked-up tail. Often found in urban gardens, groves and thickets it is the National bird of Bangladesh.

The coot, fondly called as naamakozhi in Tamil, is a wader which is completely black but has a prominent white frontal shield and white beak.

The featherless shield has earned the popular expression ‘as bald as a coot’.

The pied bush chat is quite common in open scrubs found often perched on barren tree tops often on the lookout for insect prey. It’s comparatively a small bird with a black body and white colour in the vent and wing patch.

The heart-spotted woodpecker is a very elusive, timid bird with distinct heart-shaped designs on the wings. While the major portion of its body is black, a broad white streak dotted with attractive black coloured ‘hearts’ are clearly visible and makes this bird unique unlike the common flame backs.

Black and white birds in nature

The pied kingfisher is a small crested, streaked black and white bird in total contrast to its brilliant blue cousins in the mainland. It is seen hovering over mangrove swamps where it dives down with remarkable speed and precision for a catch.

Dr. Deborah is Associate Professor, Dept of Plant Biology and Plant Biotechnology, Women Christian College and Dr. Waller is Pro-Vice Chancellor, Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences, Coimbatore


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Printable version | Jul 14, 2021 5:38:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/homes-and-gardens/black-and-white-birds/article23270743.ece

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