Neelkanth (Indian Roller) Bird

In our younger days, I remember we often spotted the “Neelkanth” as Indian Roller is called in India. “Neel” means “blue” and “Kanth” means “throat”. It is found in the agricultural fields here in Punjab. In those days there were no electrical transmission lines crossing the fields. There were trees and there were fields. So it was found sitting in smaller trees and shrubs. It is considered auspicious to see it because its name is connected to God Shiva whose throat also became blue to due drinking of the poison which threatened to destroy the world. It is the mythology part.

Nowadays it is very difficult to spot this bird. The possible reasons could be the decline in its population and its semi migratory habit. Some literature suggests the deforestation, grazing pastures and pollution.

I think during summers it shifts base to some other place because I have not spotted the bird during all the summer. Last year during February and March, I spotted it sitting across the dry wood trunks, poles and electric transmission lines during the paddy maturing season.

Neelkanth or the Indian Roller Bird (Coracias benghalensis), is a member of the roller family of birds. They are found widely across tropical Asia stretching from Iraq eastward across the Indian Subcontinent to Indochina and are best known for the aerobatic displays of the male during the breeding season. It sits patiently for quite long periods and then catches the insects, lizards etc and returns to the same spot. Once I saw it sitting on a big stone in a pasture. It will fly, catch its prey and revert back to that stone. These are some of its pictures.

   

    
    
   

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