Common City Birds

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Common Indian City Birds


Part - 2


© Sumit Sen
Common Tailorbird


Scientific name: Orthotomus sutorius
Size: 13cms
Description: Tiny greenish bird with a dull rufous cap and white underparts. Sexes alike.
Habits: Inquisitive, confiding and restless. Usually seen in pairs. Feeds on tiny insects which it industrially searches for in garden and groves cheerfully calling all the time. The nest is made by skillfully sewing together the edges of long leaves - giving the bird its name.
Habitat: Found around human habitation, often choosing to nest in gardens. A bird of forest edges and gardens.
Range: Widespread resident across the country

© Sumit Sen
Oriental Magpie Robin


Scientific name: Copsychus saularis
Size: 20-22cms.
Description: A smart pied chat with prominent white wing markings and white underparts. Male is glossy blue-black, and the female a dull grey above.
Habits: The top city songster. The male pours out a rich melody often from the top a tall perch. Individuals are territorial and visit favourite feeding places where the diet of insects and leftovers are easily available. Often nest in manmade structures and abandoned pipes etc. Can be remarkably tame.
Habitat: Open woodland, forest edge, farms, towns and cities
Range: Widespread resident across the country. Scarce in north-western India.
© Sumit Sen
Coppersmith Barbet
Scientific name: Megalaima haemacephala
Size: 17cms
Description: A richly coloured diminutive green barbet - its short tail giving it a round appearance . Sexes similar.
Habits: Despite its bright red markings, this barbet can be hard to find in its favoured fruiting trees like fig etc. This species advertises its presence by its familiar loud and repeated 'tuck, tuck', call - a feature of hot summer afternoons in the plains. The call is reminiscent of a coppersmith beating metal - hence the name. Nests in  tree holes.
Habitat: Open areas, gardens, forests, towns and cities.
Range: Widespread resident across the lowlands.
Scarce in the extreme north-west.
© Sumit Sen
Green Bee-eater
Scientific name: Merops orientalis
Size: 20cms
Description: Slim green bee-eater with a thin long beak and elongated central tail feathers. Has blue cheeks, a black gorget and a black eye line. Sexes similar.
Habits: This graceful bird is an aerial acrobat, sweeping down from its perch to catch insects on the wing. Usually found in small flocks, the birds often gather together on roadside electrical lines keeping in touch with each other with their cheerful contact calls. Nests in tunnels dug in earth mounds.
Habitat:Open country, parks, lakes and dry forests.
Range: Widespread resident across the country. Locally migratory.
© Sumit Sen
Black Drongo
Scientific name: Dicrurus macrocercus
Size: 30cms
Description: Smart and graceful glossy blue-black bird with a long forked tail. Sexes alike.
Habits: Fearless, agile and aggressive, this successful species is a feature of all our open spaces where its favoured insect food abounds. Individuals are territorial outside breeding season and have favoured perches from where they announce their presence with a medley of harsh calls mixed with skilled impersonation of calls of other species. Nests in trees which are protected from all avian intruders with zest and daring.
Habitat: Open country. Usually near habitation.
Range: Widespread resident across the country.
© Sumit Sen
Spotted Dove
Scientific name: Streptopelia chinensis
Size: 30cms
Description: An overall pinkish medium sized dove, distinguished by the  presence of a white spotted black neck-patch.. Sexes alike.
Habits:A typical unassuming dove - quietly moves about in pairs picking up food from cobbled roads and open places. Diet is mostly grains. Nests in trees.
Habitat: Open country, fields, towns, forest edges and gardens.
Range: Widespread resident. Absent from the dry west.
© Sumit Sen
Little Egret

Scientific name: Egretta garzetta
Size: 60cms
Description: A delicate and slim egret. Pure white with a dark pointed bill, dark legs and bright yellow feet. Breeding birds sport long delicate plumes on nape and back called 'aigrettes' used in designer headgear. Sexes alike.
Habits: A busy wader stalking shallow water alone or in company of others. Flushes fishes and invertebrates and snatches moving prey with great speed. Roosts and nests communally in trees.
Habitat: All wetlands.
Range: Widespread resident across the country.

© Sumit Sen
Purple Sunbird


Scientific name: Nectarinia asiatica
Size: 10cms
Description: A tiny purple jewel of our gardens. The purplish-black breeding male has reflective metallic feathers that glisten in the sun. The overall yellow-brown female is drab in comparison. Males out of breeding season wear an eclipse plumage which is like the female's but with a dark blue throat stripe.
Habits: A pugnacious, striking, and active species, Purple Sunbirds bring joy to and colour to our gardens and parks. Usually seen in pairs, these nectar feeding birds attend suitable blooms through the day and use their long tubular tongues to collect nectar from deep inside the flowers.
Habitat: Open forests, scrub, towns and cities.
Range: Widespread resident.
© Sumit Sen
Little Cormorant
Scientific name: Phalacrocorax niger
Size: 50cms
Description: An all dark bird with webbed feet and longish neck. Non-breeding birds are brownish and attain a silvery black shine in breeding plumage. Sexes alike.
Habits: Our commonest and smallest cormorant. Spends most of the time in water diving deep and chasing its fish prey underwater. Roosts and nest colonially in trees. Often considered a pest by commercial fisheries.
Habitat: Any suitable water body with fish.
Range: Resident practically across the country. Poorly recorded in the Himalaya and north-west.
© Sumit Sen
Asian Koel


Scientific name: Eudynamys scolopacea
Size: 43cms
Description: A cuckoo species with bright red eyes and a hooked beak. Males are glossy black while females are dark brownish with heavy spotting and barring.
Habits: Asian Koels are found wherever you can find House Crows - a species which the Koel brood-paracitizes. Despite its striking colours and large size it is often hard to see the bird when it is perched. Its far ranging 'ko-yu, ko-yo' call and a maniacal screech are often the only indications of its presence in the locality.
Habitat: Open country, towns, forests.
Widespread resident. Absent from the dry north-west.

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