Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Red-wattled Lapwing - Vanellus Indicus

We were driving from Banglore through the Mandya district. When we stopped to stretch our legs and observe the green paddy fields, we saw several Red-wattled Lapwing birds. Yes, yes, their call sounded as, "Did he do it!" We wondered who the 'he' was, and amused ourselves by narrating imaginary stories about some 'he.' Road trips can be immense fun, isn't it?
The Red-wattled Lapwing birds being vigilant can detect intruders and sound alarms; thus making them foes of hunters. The birds can be found almost all over India. They have a Red colored wattle, the wings are White and Brown, and the legs are Yellow, and have short tails. Both sexes resemble each other; however, the male birds have longer wings. They feed on invertebrates, and are said to feed mostly during night. You can find these birds in ploughed fields, well-watered lands, beds of lakes, and so on.
Breeding season is from March to August. For information about breeding, see wikipedia.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Monday, 25 November 2013

Rose-ringed Parakeet - Psittacula Krameri

Who doesn't love parakeets? We have several parakeets at our neighborhood, and these birds visit our garden too. During summer when our mango tree blooms flowers and flaunts fruits, the tree is filled with parakeets. It's soothing to listen to their calls during the mornings and evenings.
During our drive through the Thanjavur district, we sighted number of Rose-ringed Parakeets. They flew in pairs, some courting, and some flirting. The male and female rose-ringed parakeets look different; the male birds sport a ring around the neck. We observed the courting dance, and was it
 fun to watch!
The rose-ringed parakeets are resident (original) of India. They mainly feed on fruits, buds, grains, and so on.Their population is decreasing due to pet trade. Because these birds can mimic human speech, people like to keep them as pets. Well, if one is desperate to keep these birds as pets, please grow a garden; these birds will naturally visit and stay at your house.

Updated Feb 21, 2014: Added a photo of female rose-ringed parakeet, sitting on our Neem tree.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Jacobin Cuckoo - Clamator Jacobinus

We drove towards Coorg, and on the way, stopped to stretch our legs. When we got down from our vehicle and looked around, we saw a cuckoo sitting on the wire (along with Babblers on the neighboring bush). What luck!
This cuckoo is known as Jacobin Cuckoo; resident and migratory in India. Towards south of India, this bird is found all round the year. Black crest, Black body with White throat and under body, and Black-White patterned tail. The bird can be seen often perching in the open; habitat being forest, wooded areas, and bushes. Has a sharp call piu piu pee pee piu; get noiser during breeding season. Yes, the bird is a brood parasite; the host may be Babblers. No wonder the cuckoo sat close to the Babblers!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike - Hemipus Picatus

Spotting a Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike was one thing, photographing the bird was another! This bird belongs to the small bird category, and hardly sits tight at one location. The bird can be seen in forests of India; usually hunting at mid-canopy of forests with other birds. This bird is insectivorous; fly around to glean insects.
The Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike is a combination of Black and White colors; the body being White with Black head and upper parts, and the wings have a splash of White. The male bird is shiny Black; whereas the female bird is  greyish brown. The breeding season is from March to May in India. The birds build cup-like nests on dead branches or tip of branches. Both parents incubate the eggs.
Forest degradation has decreased the population of these birds. It's time we proactively planted more trees and safeguarded our forests. 

Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike sighted at forests of Coorg, Karnataka

Sunday, 17 November 2013

House Sparrow - Passer Domesticus

When we were kids, we would see a lot of sparrows (known as Gubbi in Kannada); some of them would nest inside our house. Our elders would instruct us to not disturb the nests/not scare the sparrows. A handful of grains was sprinkled at the courtyard for these birds to eat. Humans and sparrows lived in harmony.
Due to excess urbanisation and increase in noise levels/pollution, the house sparrows have been driven out of their natural habitat. These birds have abandoned our houses and gardens. We'll have to visit villages and quieter places to spot a sparrow. One day when we walked through the roads of Shivajinagar, Bangalore, we saw several sparrows feeding on grains. What a delightful sight that was!
This bird has been declared as the State Bird of Delhi. Several efforts have been made to invite the house sparrows. See Campaign to save the House SparrowSaving the house sparrow, and Luring sparrows back with colour. Efforts are being made to install nests to attract the sparrows.
The World House Sparrow Day is celebrated on March 20. See World House Sparrow Day.
A few sparrows spotted at Coorg

Friday, 15 November 2013

DIY - Bird Feeders

Happy weekend, all!
This morning's project was to make bird feeders from disposable containers, and then place them at several locations at both our land garden and our terrace garden.
I save the plastic disposable containers, which I've been using as seed trays or spare feeders for my kittens or for anything else that catches my fancy.
A wonderful thought struck me - why not use these containers as bird feeders? I made two holes on the side of the containers, ran a wire across the holes, and then tied the container to trees and bars (on windows). Long time ago, I had bought a pack of bird feed (grains), from a pet shop. I filled the containers with the grains. Oh, if we have rains, all I need to do is cover the containers with their lids. Ta da... The grains will stay dry. :-)
Now I got to wait and watch if the birds are able to find the feeders. Otherwise, I need to tie the containers at different places. Keeping fingers crossed that this experient works fine!
Yes, of course, you too can make this simple bird feeder.

Our garden updates are available at

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Bronze-winged Jacana - Metopidius Indicus

It's a beautiful morning today, and a Friday!
If you plan to drive out of town, stop by at a wetland or fresh water-body with good vegetation. You can observe the Bronze-winged Jacana silently walking on the vegetation. These birds walk delicately on the leaves, with their long thin legs huge feet; have a prominent white eye-strip, yellow bill and under cheek, black body, and bronze-brown upper part (wings). The jacanas are also known as Jesus birds or lily trotters.
Both sexes seem alike; however, the female bird is bigger and prettier than the male. They feed  insects and other invertebrates. These birds breed in India, and build floating nests on shallow waters of lakes. In this species of birds, the females compete for the harems of males to incubate their eggs. Read more on the Wikipedia page.
If you reside at Bangalore, the easiest place to spot these birds is the Lalbagh lake.


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

White-throated Kingfisher - Halcyon Smyrnensis

Each time I spot this bird I get excited. I love the colors on this bird. Most of the times I forget to click a photo of the bird; just watch it sit or fly. This bird happens to be the White-throated/White-breasted Kingfisher.
The White-throated Kingfisher can be seen at gardens, forests, wetlands, and areas surrounding freshwater. This bird is a widespread resident of India, and therefore, makes sighting easier. When you drive out of city, observe area surrounding a field or water body, you may see this bird. You can even spot this bird at the Lalbagh lake.
The deep-brown color on the head, the white on the breast and throat, and the blue on the wings make the bird interesting. When in flight, oh, these colors look stunning especially against the blue sky or green fields.
Again, I must say that I spotted plenty of White-throated Kingfisher birds when we drove through Thiruvanamalai district, Tamil Nadu. The roads were horrible; only plus point was the sighting of several beautiful birds (and in plenty!).

White-Throated/White-Breasted Kingfisher sitting on a pole (roadside)

The same kingfisher flew and sat on the wire


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Indian Roller - Coracias Benghalensis

Have you spotted Karnataka's state bird? You have! Congrats :-)
We have spotted the state bird, Indian Roller, several times when we drive out of the city towards Mysore/Coorg. Recently, when we drove through the Thiruvanamali (Tamil Nadu) district, we saw more than 40 Indian Roller birds; after a point, I lost count. They sat pretty on poles and wires roadside. Real close proximity to humans!
The Indian Roller birds are widespread across India. When in flight, the blue and turquoise colors on the wings look stunning. These birds feed on insects; can also fancy smaller animals and snakes. For information about breeding and nesting, see Wikipedia article. 
The India Roller is also the state bird of Andra Pradesh, Bihar, and Orissa.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Green Bee-eater - Merops Orientalis

When we drove through the Thiruvanamalai district of Tamil Nadu, we were amazed to see the healthy population of Green Bee-eaters; I counted more than 50 or so. We've have also spotted this little colorful bird at several places at Karnataka.
The bee-eaters sat in pairs on electric poles/wires along the roadside. At places, there were small groups of bee-eaters, playing, and enjoying the Sun. Was beautiful to watch the colors on their wings, when the birds flew. The bee-eaters are insectivorous; eat bees, wasps, ants, and so on. Both sexes are almost alike. Interesting information about sun bathing and nesting is available on Wikipedia.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Oriental White-eye - Zosterops Palpebrosus

"Cheer cheer cheer!" I heard in the early morning, and I replied, "Cheers to you too!" Took me a while to spot the bird that cheered the morning. The bird was the Oriental White-eye, which belongs to the small bird category. In the photo, you can see that the bird is smaller than the smallest leaf on that tree. Thankfully, this bird sat peacefully and allowed me to click a photo.
The Oriental White-eye has a distinctive white ring around its eyes. The throat and upper parts of the body are yellowish, and the underpart is whitish. Both sexes look alike. This bird is a resident breeder in parts of India, and resides at forests, islands, mangrove, and so on. Though they are social and stay in flocks, they tend to separate during breeding season. The birds are insectivorous but also enjoy nectar and fruits.

For a long time, I stood observing the activities of the Oriental White-eye. Loved its white eye-ring!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Indian Pond Heron - Ardeola

Yet another (common) bird that you can spot at the Lalbagh garden is the Indian Pond Heron. If you observe the edges of the Lalbagh lake, you are sure to spot this bird, which camouflages well with the water, aqua plants, and rocks. I've also seen these birds at paddy fields, when we drive out of  Bangalore.
The Indian Pond Herons have a brownish body with yellowish patch around the eyes and a thick beak. The wings, when spread, are white. They seem to tuck their neck making them look short. The legs are greenish; turn yellow during breeding season. The male gets materials to build a nest and the female builds the nest, lay eggs, and hatches them. Main diet of these birds are fish/aqua animals.