Singing bushlark spotted in Coimbatore

Singing bushlark (Mirafra cantillans), spotted and photographed by birder Balaji P.B., in an open field at Kalangal near Sulur in Coimbatore recently.   | Photo Credit:

In what appears to be a rare sighting, Coimbatore-based bird watcher Balaji P.B. spotted and photographed a Singing bushlark (Mirafra cantillans) in Coimbatore recently.

First record

Mr. Balaji, a member of Coimbatore Nature Society (CNS) and Salim Ali Naturalists Forum, claimed that his sighting of the bird in an open field at Kalangal near Sulur on March 19 was the first record of the species in Tamil Nadu.

Mr. Balaji, who holds a certificate in ornithology from Bombay Natural History Society, said that the rare sighting of the bird in Coimbatore was verified using ebird, an online platform for birdwatchers to report sightings.

“The identity of the bird has been confirmed with experts. Singing bushlark will be Coimbatore’s 390th bird, based on second edition of the check-list of the Birds of Coimbatore released by Coimbatore Nature Society on July 21, 2018,” he said.

A species of lark found in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, Singing bushlark is largely seen in open dry shrub, fallow cultivation and grassland.

The bird feeds on insects, ants, seeds of grasses and weeds among others.


In his book ‘Book of Indian Birds’, Salim Ali, the birdman of India, has noted that the song-flight of the male during breeding season is a “remarkable performance”. According to him, it is very difficult to distinguish the bird from other similar larks.

“The bird rises about 30 m up in the air - a lower ceiling than the skylark’s - and hovers on stiffly quivering wings in the style of the skylark, drifting hither and tither in the breeze, and back and forth over an extensive area for considerable periods,” notes Ali about the bird. The spirited and sustained rendering of the flight song of Singing bushlark incorporates imitations of the calls of most of the birds which share its habitat.

With a breeding season ranging from March to September, the bird makes a shallow grass cup lined with fine grass as its nest. It is placed on the ground, well concealed in a clump of grass. The bird usually lays two to four eggs.

Mr. Balaji, one of the editors of ‘Birds of Coimbatore’ brought out by CII-Yi and CNS in 2015, is credited with several first sightings in Coimbatore like that of White stork, Black stork, Rufous-tailed Lark and Indian Spotted eagle.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 7:45:52 PM |

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