Many Vultures and Eagles have reached on the brink of becoming extinct. The main reason for this is said to the consumption of contaminated flesh from carcasses. Many of these Vultures migrate from Eurasian areas to the comparatively warmer climates found in Asia. Here they come for escaping the bitter cold and lack of food there. They rear their young here.
Fortunately, I have been able to spot these Vultures at some places like garbage dumps or where some people used to dump the carcass. These birds come there from hills nearby. Most prominent amongst them is Himalayan Griffon Vultures.
Palm date trees are laden with golden fruits. The ripen not at once but successively so that fruit is available for longer periods. These sugary treats are a great attraction for birds like crows, Asian Koels and Grey Hornbills. The fruits bunches are surrounded by big thorny fronds. So smaller birds can easily approach them.
But even peafowls find them irresistible. I was surprised to find two peahens which had climbed the tree despite their very large sizes and were plucking and eating the fruits. Here is the video.
Come summers, many birds arrive in India for nesting. Some come from as far as Africa. They come here just before the onset of monsoons and for this reason are connected to the arrival of rains. Three types of cuckoos are generally seen in our area. All these are brood parasites which means like Koel they lay their eggs in the nest of other bird who thinking that these are their own eggs hatch them and raise the brood. These cuckoos choose the nests of Babblers for this work. Now we will talk of three cuckoos.
Also known as Pied Cuckoo, Pied Crested Cuckoo, it comes from Africa here. Here it is called Harbinger of the rains. In Indian mythology it is called Chatak or the seeker of ambrosia drops. Also called Barsati Papiha. Religious scriptures mention this bird.
Grey Bellied Cuckoo
Another small cuckoo. It can be seen here these days. Most of the times it sits on the electric wires which cross over scrubby shrubs. It was earlier also called Indian Plaintive Cuckoo but now not more so. It is smaller than Pied Cuckoo. It is also called Chhota Papiha in India.
Common Hawk Cuckoo
This cuckoo partially resembles sparrowhawks and thus is called Hawk Cuckoo. In english another common name is Brain Fever Bird. In India it is also called Papiha. Many small birds get scared in its presence. It remains sitting at a place for long durations. It seems to be a permanent resident here.
This bird is extraordinary. I was awed by their intelligence. Every year they came here to make nests. Last year the acacia trees in vacant plots in our area were uprooted due to heavy rains and construction activity. I thought this year they will not come here because there seems to be no trees for hanging the nests.
What is the Criteria for selection of a site?
Suitable tree which is not easily approachable by predators and humans.
Food and Water Availability
Yet some 10-15 days ago, I noticed these birds in bullrushes collecting the nesting material. I was very much surprised where they are making the nests. And see they selected the Palm trees in a society for three reasons: One they cut the nesting material from palm fronds and second that nearby on the sides of the road, people come with grain seeds for ants and sparrows. So food will be nearby.
All birds make nests to raise their chicks. The nests range from simple twigs heaped together to most elaborate. Weaver birds excel as craftsman in making intricate nests.
The area they choose for nesting is carefully chosen. There should be thorny tree like acacia or lofty trees like palms. Idea is to deter predators like snakes, shikra etc from destroying the nest for eggs. Then there should be plenty of food available near by. So they choose the areas near agricultural land. Then there should be nesting material available like bulrush grass in bogs.
While baya weavers make the nests on trees their cousins Black Breasted Weavers also known as Bengal Weaver or Black Throated Weaver (Ploceus benghalensis) make their nests inside thick bulrush grasses. Their nests are not easily seen on cursory look. It is so intricately hidden.
Only male birds do the nest making. They make hundreds of trips to bring the grass blades which they cleave from the grass stalks. Females are invited to inspect the partially completed nest, if a female okays the nest she would move with male for starting the family.
In our area there are plenty of weavers birds. We located one such nest in the making. From a distance without disturbing the bird made a video which I am sharing with my friends on wordpress.
Indian Pitta is a small bird. It is the most colourful bird. There are nine different colours on it. Due to this fact, it is called Navranga (meaning nine coloured). It is a very shy bird and often keeps to the ground under the bushes. Most of the times, it is spotted by its calls.
Pitta comes to North India under Himalayan foothills for breeding. The bird migrates to south India or western India during winters. Initially it was named “Ponnunky Pitta“. In fact the name is derived from Telugu language in which it means a “small bird “.
Based on vivid colours, the bird has many different names like “Naorang” in Hindi, “Shumcha” in Bengali, Hariyo in Gujarati. It is also called 6 O’clock bird as it is most active at this time in the morning. In Tamil it is known as “Kaachul“, in Telugu “Polankipitta, Ponnangi pitta“.
Our area falls in the foothills of Himalayas. Lots of these birds can be heard in the summer mornings. I also was lucky to spot and photograph this bird.
Many migrant birds which migrate towards moderate climates of West and South India to escape the severe winter and shortage of food in North India. As the winter season comes to an end, they return back. One such birds is Indian Golden Oriole (Oriolus kundoo). It is a species of orioles. Earlier it was considered a subspecies of Eurasian Golden Orioles but now has been recognised as a separate species.
In the North India harsh summers start. There are many trees that bear fruit not eaten by human beings don’t eat but many birds like them. Orioles like these berries very much. These are very shy birds and are difficult to photograph. While not feeding, they roost in dense foliage of lofty trees. Besides berries their diet also includes insects.
Males of very beautiful in comparison to the females. In addition to their golden feather, there is a black a large carpal patch on the wing. While hiding in foliage, they can be made out by a sweet song.
There is a forest near my home in Panchkula Haryana India. In this forest there are trees called Jhingan (Odina Wodier). These trees bear the berries ( as seen in the tree in pictures) from March which ripen towards May end. Orioles can be seen gorging on these berries.
I am a n enthusiastic nature photographer and has taken these pictures myself.
Really it is treat to watch this very beautiful bird.
They are called Nature’s scavengers. They eat putrid flesh and thus prevent many diseases. But the carcasses they used to clean had done them in since a few years back. The cattles were given declofenac , a medicine for fever and even if a fraction was retained in the flesh of animal, its flesh was like a poison for the vultures. So their number began dwindling, so much so that they became endangered species.
In India, i remember of my childhood village days, there was a place outside every village where dead cattle were thrown. Vultures would descend on it and eat the flesh. They made peculiar sounds. They are so big that even dogs wont dare go near. Only crows are allowed the liberty.
All this is gone now. But a few days back, i happen to spot vultures outside a village where a carcass was thrown by some villager. After so many years saw and heard the voices.
There were Himalayan Griffon and Cinereous vultures…
It is a species of large owls found in india. They are very rare in our area in Punjab. I was lucky to spot this beautiful owl in a forest near my village.
As such, it chooses its roost so cleverly that it completely camouflage itself. Only sometimes it is noticed by crows , treepies and babblers who make a hell of noise near it and force it to fly away. Only during one such cacophony I spotted it. After many unsuccessful efforts finally I was able to photograph it.