Birds I view
Hemant’s summer assignment is ‘Birds in your neighbourhood’. But all he has spotted till now are crows. So he has set out with his aunt, to explore the lakes, gardens, hedges, parks and buildings, and every nook and cranny of his city. Let us follow them...
Why watch birds?
Bird watching tools
Bird Guide: Carry a bird guide with pictures, information on habitat, maps, colours, bird calls and species range.
Bird topography: A beginner will find many birds look alike. This list will specify different parts of a bird’s body.
Range maps: A range map shows areas inhabited by a particular bird. It helps in ruling out bird species from an area. Not all birds are year-round residents. Some migrate, while others are vagrants (irregular visitors).
Tips to identify: There are five clues — colour, plumage, behaviour, voice (or call) and silhouette (shape and size).
Join a club: People to discuss your latest sightings with!
Water bodies: Wetlands, ponds, lakes
Urban trees: Gulmohar, neem, silver oak
Parks, hedges, shrubs
Buildings, roofs, balconies
ACTIVITY: Counting pigeons
Find a study site. Choose one which you walk by daily at a certain time. School route, local market, etc.
Practice identifying pigeons. Through their colour, plumage and silhouette. Pigeons are of seven colour types (morphs). Their neck feathers are called ‘hackle’. Adult males have brighter hackles than the females. An adult pigeon has reddish orange eyes, while juveniles have brownish ones. Their feet have a reddish or grayish tinge.
Listen to a pigeon to identify calls. Males say coo roo-c’too-coo to attract mates and to defend territories. When they are startled or scared, they sound an alarm call like oorhh!
Note a pigeon’s behaviour. On the ground, they walk or run with their heads bobbing back and forth.
Study their habitat and food habits. Usually seen on covered building ledges, alcoves under bridges and along highways. They suck water using their beaks like a straw, unlike most birds that sip and throw back their heads to let the water trickle down their throats. Pigeons mostly feed on seeds and grains. Young ones feed on ‘crop milk’, a thick fluid.