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Colours of the wild: India’s exotic bird species

One often gets to spot birds such as mynahs, crows, pigeons and parakeets in home gardens, apartment complexes, institutional campuses and parks.

And if you’re lucky, you get to spot the less common ones such as coppersmith barbets, red vented bulbuls, noisy tree pies, tiny tailor birds or even the iridescent sunbird.

While colourful winged beauties like cardinals, humming birds, fairy wrens and painted buntings are common in the West, India has its own set of exotoc birds. We have golden orioles, bee eaters, kingfishers, the multi-coloured pittas, wood peckers and tree pies that are a delight for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Colours of the wild: India’s exotic bird species

Although shrinking habitats, natural calamities and man-animal conflicts have displaced most of our bird species, it is pivotal to coexist with them, to conserve and admire them, especially in this busy, fast paced-world.

As novelist Charles Dickens rightly said: ‘Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own’.

Here are a few winged beauties in striking colours:

Iora, yellow

The common Iora is a pretty bird with a bright yellow body, black mantle and wings with white bars. Being insectivorous, the birds gorge on grasshoppers, bugs, beetles and spiders. Their courtship displays are acrobatic and they are faithfully monogamous. Ioras are not fidgety and make for great detailed viewing as they remain perched on leafless branch tops for several minutes at a stretch.

Colours of the wild: India’s exotic bird species

The Golden oriole is a stunning bird that can enthral any casual bystander. The bird’s striking yellow and jet black plumage, large pink beak and the black eye stripe make for a vibrant combination.

Spotting a male bird in the open deciduous forests, watching its characteristic undulating flight or hearing its harsh grating call is a delightful experience.

Indian roller, blue

The Indian roller, earning its name by virtue of its aerial acrobatics, is a large solitary bird often seen on fences, poles and cables.

Often misconstrued as the blue jay, the roller displays its rich turquoise blue only when it takes off in flight. The white breasted kingfisher attracts one’s attention with its raucous call and brilliant blue coloured feathers.

Valuable lessons on patience and skill can be learnt watching these birds perched on telephone cables, branches overlooking streams and ponds, as they dive with precision at the sight of a moving fish.

Leaf bird, green

Though green is often synonymous with parakeets, the lesser known leaf bird is a beauty to behold when spotted amidst green foliage. The deep blue throat is its unique identification.

Colours of the wild: India’s exotic bird species

The white cheeked barbet with its green body is almost invisible in the green canopy of trees. However, its characteristic incessant call and brisk feeding in fruit laden trees can betray its presence.

Scarlet minivet, orange

Sighting a scarlet minivet in close range is a rare treat as they are highly arboreal, elusive and restless birds. Displaying sexual dimorphism, the males are garish orange and black, while the females are drab with yellowish green mantle.

Dr. Deborah is Associate Professor, Dept of Plant Biology, Women’s Christian College and Dr. Waller is Pro-Vice Chancellor, Karunya Deemed University

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 7:20:31 AM |

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