The following points highlight the top twenty types of Indian birds. The types are: 1. White Backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis) [Fam. Accipitridae] 2. Spotted Owlet (Athene brama) [Fam. Strigidae] 3. Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) [Fam. Gruidae] 4. Malabar Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus) [Fam. Bucerotidae] 5. Pariah Kite (Milvus migrans) [Fam. Accipitridae] and Others.
Indian Birds: Type # 1.
White Backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis) [Fam. Accipitridae]:
The species (Fig. 9.36A) of vulture is commonly found in all parts of India. It has an ugly and repulsive appearance. This species lives either singly or in groups. It devours carcases and is beneficial to human society.
Other Indian vultures are — Indian Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), Indian Long billed vulture (Gyps indicus) and Black or King vulture (Sarcogyps clavus), etc.
Indian Birds # 2.
Spotted Owlet (Athene brama) [Fam. Strigidae]:
This species of owl (Fig. 9.36B) is a most familiar bird in this country.
The head is large and spherical with forwardly directed conspicuous eyes. The ear opening is large with flap-like cover resembling mammalian pinna.
It lives mainly on insects, lizards, small birds and small rodents. The digits of the hind limbs and the beak become modified for the purpose of catching the prey. Owl is a nocturnal bird, i.e., it spends the daytime hidden in secluded leafy branches or tree-holes and becomes very active during the night. By nature these birds are noisy and produce chattering, chuckling and squabbling notes, specially heard during dusk.
Owls prefer to live in the plains and foothills near human habitation. About 15 species of owls are found in India. Of which Barn owl (Tyto alba) is called “Laksmi Pecha” in Bengal.
It is a denizen of deserted old buildings, ruins and old forts. Indian great horned owl, Bubo bubo is known as “Hutom Pecha”, and Brown hawk owl, Ninox scutulata as “Kal Pecha” Spotted owlet, Athene brama as “Kuture Pecha”, Brown fish owl, Bubo zeylonensis as “Bhootoom Pecha” and Barred jungle owlet, Glaucidium radiatum, is also called as “Chhota kalpecha”, respectively in Bengal.
Indian Birds # 3.
Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) [Fam. Gruidae]:
This bird is the largest crane (Fig. 9.36C) inhabiting essentially the well-watered open plains of India.
They are omnivorous, i.e., eat vegetable matters, insects, snails, amphibians, fishes, etc. This species is notable for exhibiting extravagant courtship displayed during breeding season.
Indian Birds # 4.
Malabar Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus) [Fam. Bucerotidae]:
This is a popular hornbill, known as Dhanesh. It is basically a fruit-eater and found in fruit-laden trees of South and Central India, parts of Orissa, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Dhanesh is a heavy-billed arboreal bird (Fig. 9.36D).
Indian Birds # 5.
Pariah Kite (Milvus migrans) [Fam. Accipitridae]:
This bird is commonly called Cheel. It is found perched on tree-tops, roof-top or flying in air. It possesses a forked tail (Fig. 9.35E) and is coloured brown. It is also a scavenger and usually eats small dead animals.
Indian Birds # 6.
Bronze Winged Jacana (Metopidius indicus) [Fam Jacaridae]:
This bird is commonly called Jal pipi. It is a common Indian water bird inhabiting tanks and jheels. The toes are extremely elongated to ski over the floating leaves (Fig. 9.36 F). It is a poor flyer and lives on small aquatic weeds, fishes and molluscs.
Indian Birds # 7.
Common Peacock (Pavo cristatus) [Fam. Phasianidae]:
The male bird has a gracefully coloured appearance and is commonly known as Mayur. Pavo cristatus has been given the status of our national bird. It lives in dense jungle having streams and rivers. The dance of peacock with its expanded train like a fan is really delightful.
This fan is formed by the elongated feathers overlying the tail (Fig. 9.36G). It eats mainly grains and vegetables. It also takes insects and small reptiles.
Indian Birds # 8.
Spotted Billed Pelican (Pelecanus Philippensis) [Fam. Pelicanidae]:
This bird is characterised by having a large beak with an elastic skin pouch which acts as a net for capturing fishes.
Habit and Habitat:
Pelican lives on coastal lagoons and lakes. It is a fish-eating bird of large size (Fig. 9.36H).
Indian Birds # 9.
Jungle Bush Quail (Perdicula asiatica) [Fam. Pharianidae]:
This bird (Fig. 9.36I) lives usually in dry open forests of India. They live on grains and tender shoots. They live in groups of five to twenty.
Indian Birds # 10.
Little Blue Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) [Fam. Alcedinidae]:
This little bird (Fig. 9.37A) is found near the tanks, streams, lakes and the seashore and preys upon aquatic insects, tadpoles and small fishes. They produce characteristic sound during flight.
About 9 species of king fisher are found in India.
(i) White breasted kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis (throughout India),
(ii) Pied kingfisher, Ceryle rudis (throughout India),
(iii) Ruddy kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda (Sundarbans, West Bengal, Eastern India, and Andaman Islands),
(iv) Small blue kingfisher, Alcedo atthis (throughout India),
(v) Threetoed kingfisher, Ceyx erithacus (Northeast India, Western ghats to Kerala and Tamil Nadu),
(vi) Brown-headed storkbilled kingfisher, Pelargopsis capensis (throughout India except Rajasthan and its surrounding drier regions),
(vii) Blue eared kingfisher, Alcedo meninting (West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats),
(viii) White collared kingfisher, Halcyon chloris and
(ix) Black capped kingfisher, Halcyon pileata (Coastline of India).
Among the above mentioned species pied kingfisher, Ceryle rudis is called “Phatka machhranga” and white breasted kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis is also called “Sadabuk machhranga” in Bengal.
Indian Birds # 11.
Golden Backed Woodpecker (Dinopium beng- halense) [Fam. Picidae]:
This bird is commonly called Katthokra. It is identified by golden yellow and black on the dorsal surface and buffy white below streaked with black. Crown and occipital crest crimson.
Throughout India, and Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
They are found in single or in pairs on trunks of coconut plantations and in orchards, and also in scrub jungle.
They eat insects and beetles, black ants, ripe fruit and also flower nectar.
A nest is a unlined hole on the tree stem, chiselled out by the birds in the rotten wood.
The nesting season ranges from March .to August.
Other Indian Woodpeckers are:
Mahratta woodpecker (Picoides mahrattensis), Rufous woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus), little scaly bellied green woodpecker (Picus myrmecophoneus) and great blask woodpecker (Dryocopus javensis).
Indian Birds # 12.
Rose Ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) [Fam. Psittacidae]:
This bird is called ‘Tia’ in Bengal. The bird is identified by grass-green colour of the body with a short, deeply hooked red bill and the female lacks the black and rose-pink collar of male.
Indian sub-continent, and Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Pairs or flocks are seen in the villages and towns, mainly in crop fields, and orchard fruit. They are seen in the plains and up to 2000 m in the Indian peninsular hills.
Ripening fruits and standing crops.
A loud, sharp, familiar screaming calls Keeak, utter both at rest and in the flight. They destroy more crops or ripening fruits by gnawing rather than eating.
The holes on the trunk of the trees or in the walls of the inhabited houses or in rock scraps are used as nest.
The nesting season varies from February to April.
Other species like large Indian parakeet (Psittacula eupatria), Red-breasted parakeet (Psittacula alexandri) and Blossom-headed parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala) are known from the Indian sub-continent. They are recognised in Bengal as “Chandana” (P. eupatria), “Madna” (P. alexandri) and “Phultusi” (P cyanocephala).
Indian Birds # 13.
Common House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) [Fam. Ploceidae]:
They are recognised as “Charai” in Bengal. They can be identified by small size (15 cm), earthy grey-brown above with blackish streak and whititish below in female. The males have black streak and rufouschestnut on the dorsal surface and the tail is dark brown.
It is a very common bird, found throughout the world. They are seen almost with the human habitation. In the plains, they are found to nest in the houses of the congested areas of the city and towns.
Omnivorous; eats grains, insects, flower nectar and kitchen scraps.
A chirping call like cheer, cheer or tsi, tsi utter during flight. Flocks damage crops and gardens.
A nest is made by the collection of straw, rubbish and feathers in the hole of ventilator, inverted lamp shade or any suitable place of the building.
They nest throughout the year.
Indian Birds # 14.
Red Vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) [Fam Pycnonotidae]:
It is identified by small size (15-20 cm), smoke-brown in colour with mop crested black head, scale-like markings on breast and a crimson patch at the root of tail.
They are found throughout the Indian subcontinent and also in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
They are found in scrub jungles and also in the gardens but mostly remain away from the human habitation.
They are seen to feed on banyan and peepul figs, winged termites, moths and caterpillars. They can’t sing but joyous notes indicate their presence in the garden. First shower attracts them to catch insects in the garden.
The nest is a cup of rootlets, grasses or leaf stems built on scrubs or small trees.
The nesting season varies from February to May.
Other Indian species are red whiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus), yellow throated bulbul (Pycnonotus xantholaemus; South India), white-browed bulbul (P. luteolus; South India from Midnapur); black-headed bulbul (P atriceps; North East India); black- headed yellow bulbul (P. melanicterus; Shimla to Manipur); ruby-throated bulbul (P. melanicterus gularis; Karnataka and Coa) and white-cheeked bulbul (P. leucogenys; the Himalayas), etc.
Indian Birds # 15.
Common Weaver Bird (Ploceus philippinus) [Fam. Ploceidae]:
This weaver bird resembles closely the sparrow and lives in flocks. They cause damage to cereal crops. These birds are well- known for their nicely woven bottle-shaped nests (Fig. 9.37B). The nests are seen hanging usually from date palms or any other trees extended usually over water.
Indian Birds # 16.
Openbilled Stork (Anastomus oscitans) [Fam. Ciconiidae]:
This bird is characterised by having a peculiar beak (Fig. 9.37C) which is modified to extract the body of large snails from their shell. They have a wide distribution all over the country. In Bengal they are recognised as Samuk khol.
Indian Birds # 17.
Bareheaded Goose (Anser indicus) [Fam. Anatidae]:
This goose (Fig. 9.37D) has a great migratory power. During the winter months, these birds come down specially to northern India from Tibet. They live near marshy lands round canals and jheels.
Indian Birds # 18.
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) [Fam. Ardeidae]:
This bird is commonly called Anjan and is found standing motionless in shallow water. It has a large size and catches the prey with its elongated beak (Fig. 9.37E). It has a highly mobile and long neck. It takes fishes and frogs as food.
Indian Birds # 19.
Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) [Fam. Phoenicopteridae]:
This bird is usually found in flocks wandering in shallow jheels. It is beautifully coloured. The legs are extremely elongated (Fig. 9.37F). It lives on crustaceans, molluscs and tender vegetables which are collected by the beak modified for this purpose.
During rest it usually remains standing on one leg and the head is kept tucked under the feathers of the posterior part of the body. The neck is excessively long which is highly mobile and coiled. The mandibles are curved forming box-like structure with serrated margins.
Indian Birds # 20.
Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) [Fam. Threskiornithidae]:
This bird is snow-white in colour and is characterised by having a peculiar spoon-like beak (Fig. 9.37G) for catching prey. It lives in jheels and banks of the river. They usually remain in flocks of 10 to 20 individuals. They have a peculiar flying posture with the neck and head outstretched.