Bird Watching at Perungudi, Chennai

M2M introduces you to some of our pretty winged friends in the city!! This thoroughly researched, interesting  and informative post on some of the birds found in Chennai is brought to you by our guest blogger Ramesh. Ramesh who has recently moved back to Chennai is an avid reader, photographer and blogger who blogs at Engram’s Random Rambling – Thanks Ramesh!!!

Warning – Long Post ahead.

All photographs on this post are owned by Ramesh. Please contact him on his blog in case you would like to use them.

There are over 130 species of birds in Chennai region and can be seen in pockets of spaces like the IIT campus, Guindy National Park, Theosophical Society Gardens and Adyar Estuary. This photo post is basically about the birds that I have seen in the vicinity of my house at Perungudi in mornings chirping and tweeting. Being a suburb this place is uncluttered unlike the city ,with independent houses and quite few empty plots filled up with dense bushes and it attracts quite a few species of birds, in addition the usual crows, mynas and sparrows there has been few birds I saw for the first time here. Here are the photographs of those birds taken by me. Bird description- Courtesy Wikipedia.

Common Hawk-Cuckoo

The Common Hawk-Cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius), popularly known as the Brain fever bird, is a medium sized Cuckoo resident in South Asia It bears a close resemblance to the Shikara a sparrow hawk, even in its style of flying and landing on a perch. The resemblance to hawks gives this group the generic name of hawk-cuckoo and like many other cuckoos these are brood parasites laying their eggs in nests of babblers. During their breeding season in summer males produce loud, repetitive three note calls that are well-rendered as brain-fever, the second note being longer and higher pitched. These notes rise to a crescendo before ending abruptly and repeat after a few minutes, the calling may go on through the day, well after dusk and before dawn.

The Common Hawk-Cuckoo is a medium to large sized cuckoo, about the size of a pigeon (ca. 34 cm). The plumage is ashy grey above; whitish below, cross-barred with brown. The tail is broadly barred. The sexes are alike. They have a distinctive yellow eye ring. Sub adults have the breast streaked, similar to the immature Shikara, and there are large brown chevron marks on the belly. – cite_note-pcr-3 At first glance they can be mistaken for a hawk. When flying they use a flap and glide style that resembles that of sparrow hawk and flying upwards and landing on a perch they shake their tails from side to side. Many small and birds and squirrels raise alarm just as they would in the presence of a hawk. The sexes are alike but males tend to be larger. During summer months, before the monsoons, the males are easily detected by their repeated calls but can be difficult to spot. The call is a loud screaming three-note call, repeated 5 or 6 times, rising in crescendo and ending abruptly. It is heard throughout the day and frequently during moonlit nights. – cite_note-ali-daniel-6The calls of females are a series of grating notes. – cite_note-hbk-4 Common Hawk-Cuckoos feed mainly on insects and are specialized feeders that can handle hairy. Caterpillar guts often containing toxins and like many cuckoos they remove the guts by pressing the caterpillar and rubbing it on a branch before swallowing it. The hairs are swallowed with the caterpillar and are separated in the stomach and regurgitated as a pellet.

White-throated Kingfisher

The White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) also known as the White-breasted Kingfisher or Smyrna Kingfisher, is a tree kingfisher widely distributed in Eurasia from Bulgaria, Turkey, east through South Asia to the Philippines. This is a resident over much of its range, although some populations may make short distance movements. It can often be found well away from water where it feeds on a wide range of prey that includes small reptiles, amphibians, crabs, small rodents and even birds.

During the breeding season they call loudly in the mornings from prominent perches including the tops of buildings in urban areas or on wires. This is a large kingfisher, 28 cm in length. The adult has a bright blue back, wings and tail. Its head, shoulders, flanks and lower belly are chestnut, and the throat and breast are white. The large bill and legs are bright red. The flight of the White-throated Kingfisher is rapid and direct, the short rounded wings whirring. In flight, large white patches are visible on the blue and black wings. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult.

The Green Bee-eater, Merops orientalis, (sometimes Little Green Bee-eater) is a near passerine bird in the bee eater family. It is resident but prone to seasonal movements and is found widely distributed across sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal and The Gambia to Ethiopia, the Nile valley, western Arabia and Asia through India to Vietnam. They are mainly insect eaters and they are found in grassland, thin scrub and forest often quite far from water. Several regional plumage variations are known and several subspecies have been named.

Green Bee-eater

Like other bee-eaters, this species is a richly colored, slender bird. It is about 9 inches (16–18 cm) long with about 2 inches made up by the elongated central tail-feathers. The sexes are not visually distinguishable. The entire plumage is bright green and tinged with blue especially on the chin and throat. The crown and upper back are tinged with golden rufous. The flight feathers are rufous washed with green and tipped with blackish. A fine black line runs in front of and behind the eye. The iris is crimson and the bill is black while the legs are dark grey. The feet are weak with the three toes joined at the base. Southeast Asian birds have rufous crown and face, and green under parts, whereas Arabian beludschicus has a green crown, blue face and bluish under parts. The wings are green and the beak is black. The elongated tail feathers are absent in juveniles. Sexes are alike. The call is a nasal trill tree-tree-tree-tree, usually given in flight. – cite_note-whistler-2

Golden Oriole

The Eurasian Golden Oriole or simply Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) is the only member of the Oriole family of passerine birds breeding in northern hemisphere temperate regions. It is a summer migrant in Europe and western Asia and spends the winter season in the central and southern Africa. Golden orioles have an extremely large range with large populations that are apparently stable. The male is striking in the typical oriole black and yellow plumage, but the female is a drabber green bird.

Orioles are shy, and even the male is remarkably difficult to see in the dappled yellow and green leaves of the canopy. In flight they look somewhat like a thrush, strong and direct with some shallow dips over longer distances. They feed on insects and fruit. They build neat nests in tree forks and lay 3-6 eggs. Their call is a screech like a Jay, but the song is a beautiful fluting weela-wee-ooo or or-iii-ole, unmistakable once heard.

In addition to the above I did see Black Drongo and a honey bird but could not take a decent photograph of them. Also because of fish in the rain water stagnated in open plots we do get to see some egrets and drake flying in but I was unable to photograph them due to dense bushes.


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