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Vol. XXX No. 4, June 1-15, 2020

Birds in My Backyard

–A.S. Diwakar

The lockdown gave me an opportunity to discover the abundance of bird life around my apartment in Gopalapuram, Chennai.

With stern eyed policemen shooing off even the enthusiastic morning walkers, I was compelled to shift to my building terrace for the regular walks. These not-so-common birds were spotted, in addition to the ubiquitous crows and Pigeons. What a refreshing sight these chirpy, feathered beauties presented!

Black Kite

The Black Kite is a medium-sized raptor (bird of prey). From a distance, it appears almost black, with a light brown bar on the shoulder. The tail is forked and barred with darker brown. This feature gives the bird its alternative name of Fork-tailed Kite.


An omnivorous open woodland bird with a strong territorial instinct, the myna has adapted extremely well to urban environments.

Black-rumped Flameback Woodpeckers aka Lesser ­Golden-backed Woodpeckers

It is among the few woodpeckers seen in urban areas. Often detected by its loud “ki-ki-ki-ki-ki,” which steadily ­increases in pace and ends in a trill.

Greater Coucal, colloquially called the Bharadwaj Bird

Bharadwaj Maharishi was believed to have worshipped Lord Vishnu in this bird form and hence the name.

Asian Koyel

A large cuckoo, elusive to photograph, keeping to the ­interior of dense trees in many habitats, even inner cities. Adult males are glossy black with a dull lime-green bill; females and immatures are blackish brown with white dots on the wings and strong streaking on head and throat. Adults have ruby-red eyes. Females lay eggs in the nests of other large birds, including crows, shrikes, and starlings.

Indian Pond Heron

The Indian pond heron or Paddybird (Ardeola grayii) is a small heron, appearing stocky with a short neck, short thick bill and buff-brown back. However its appearance turns ­distinctive when it takes off with bright white wings.

Rufous treepie

The rufous treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda) is a member of the crow family, Corvidae. It is long tailed and has loud musical calls making it very conspicuous.

Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius).

This is a song bird, popular for its nest made of leaves “sewn” together and immortalized by Rudyard Kipling as Darzee in his Jungle Book. Although shy birds that are usually hidden within vegetation, their loud calls are familiar and give away their presence. They are distinctive in having a long upright tail, greenish upper body plumage and rust coloured forehead and crown.

Indian Ringneck Parrot

Males have a black neck ring and a pink nape band. Females and young birds lack the neck rings or display shadow-like pale to dark grey neck-rings.
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