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  • Writer's pictureJuned Softhunters

Avifauna of Utsav Camp, around the camp, and nearby wetlands

Red vented Bulbul

A dark, sleek, medium-sized bird with a black crest and a white rump. The red colour under the tail is often difficult to see. Eats fruit,flower buds, and insects. Conspicuous and

sometimes gregarious, often seen high in trees or perched on wires in urban and rural areas; generally, prefers scrubby edge habitat instead of dense forest. Calls include a variety of chirps and whistles.

Indian Robin

A nondescript robin; males are primarily black with chestnut bottom feathers, although males in the northern population have brownish upperparts. Males also have a white shoulder patch and a relatively long tail. Females have completely brown upperparts, lack the male’s white shoulder patch, and have greyish-brown underparts. They are generally seen in pairs, foraging on the ground with the tail cocked up. Found in open country, at forest edges, around human habitation, and in scrub lands.

Common Kingfisher

Fairly common but small, often rather shy, and inconspicuous. Beautiful blue-and-orange plumage, in combination with habitat and habits, is basically unmistakable. Found along rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds—almost any fresh or brackish habitat with small fish. Often perches quietly in trees over water; most often seen in very fast low flight as a turquoise flash over the water, usually flying away. Easily detected once its high, shrill whistled call is learned, even if the bird itself is hidden.

Sarus Crane

Tall pale grey crane with pink legs and red bare skin on head extending down the neck. Juvenile facial colouring less prominent. Typically wades in shallow wetlands or in cropped agricultural areas. Unmistakable in Asia. In Australia, take care to identify from Brolga, which has black legs and grey upper neck. Listen for its loud, far-carrying bugling calls.

Great white Pelican

A large white waterbird with a hefty bill and a yellow-orange throat pouch. Note the pink bare skin around eye that extends towards the bill. Young birds have browner overall plumage relative to adults with brown upper wings and a brown head. Legs are pink. In flight shows dark flight feathers which contrast with the rest of the wing. Often seen fishing cooperatively, swimming in a wide arc to round up the fish and then scoop them into their pouch.

Painted Stork

A large stork with a long yellow bill that curves down at the tip, like that of an Ibis. Adult is primarily white with black striped markings on the wings and bright pink on tertials. Also note the bright orange face, pinkish legs, and speckled band across the chest. Immatures are duller, with a brown wash, and lack the chest band. These storks typically fly with their head and neck drooping almost at or below the belly level. Often seen near water bodies such as wetlands, marshes, and flooded agricultural fields. Breeds in crowded colonies, often with other waterbirds.

Ruddy Shelduck

Striking and distinctive gooselike duck. Plumage bright ruddy overall with contrasting pale creamy head and neck; male has narrow black neck ring. Big white forewing patches striking in flight. Breeds in south-eastern Europe and Central Asia, winters in South Asia. Often found around saline lakes; also, reservoirs and agricultural fields. Escapees from waterfowl collections occasionally seen free-flying outside of native range.

Common Teal

Tiny duck with a petite, thin bill. Males have a brown head with a wide green swatch behind the eye, creamy speckled breast, and mostly grey body. Females are brown, darker overall than other dabbling ducks. Forages by dabbling and tipping-up to reach submerged aquaticvegetation. Also regularly walks around mudflats to feed.

Little Grebe

Fairly common but often inconspicuous small diving bird of wetlands with bordering reeds and other vegetation. Often remains out of sight; less often out on open water (mainly in winter). Rather compact, with rounded head, puffy rear end. Seen mainly as singles and small loose flocks, often sleeping during the day. Breeding plumage often looks dark overall; in good light note dark rusty head and neck sides with yellow patch at base of bill. Nonbreeding plumage dingy pale brownish overall with dark cap.

White breasted Waterhen

Medium-sized, fairly common chickenlike marsh bird found in meadows, ditches, riversides, marshes, as well as parks and farmlands in close proximity to humans; often seen foraging in the open. Adults are dark slaty above and white below, with a rusty patch under the tail. Juvenile similar but duller in colour. Remarkably variable song is a series of hooting, grunting, or rasping notes or phrases, repeated monotonously, often from an exposed perch.

Black Winged Kite

Small and distinctive falcon like kite. Light underneath, blue-grey above with conspicuous black shoulders formed by black wing coverts. Juveniles have a scaly back and brownish- washed breast. Found in open savannah, semi-desert, and agricultural lands with scattered woods; frequently seen on exposed perches. Varied flight style, hovering like a kestrel or gliding like a harrier with deep wingbeats and raised wings.

Little Egret

Small snow-white heron with slender dark bill, blackish legs, and yellowish feet (or "golden slippers"). Breeding adult has 2 long wispy head plumes and spray of white plumes ("aigrettes") on lower back. Fairly common in wide variety of wetlands, at lakes, along rivers, and in estuaries—almost anywhere with small fish. Occurs as singles or small loose groups; nests and roosts communally.

Cattle Egret

Small, compact white heron with relatively short yellow bill. More frequently seen in dry habitats than other egrets; rarely gets its feet wet. In breeding season, look for pale salmon colour on head and breast (more extensive in Asia and Australasia) and brighter bill. Leg colour varies from reddish or yellow during the breeding season to black during the nonbreeding season. Juveniles have dark bill. Always note relatively short, thick neck and short legs compared with other egrets. Widespread and fairly common across the globe. Often gathers in flocks, frequently following cattle or tractors in fields.

Great Egret

Large, lanky, long-necked white heron. Size and black legs help separate from other egrets. Widespread and fairly common across the globe. Bill colour varies across range: always yellow in the Americas, black in breeding season elsewhere. Occurs in any shallow wetland, including ponds, marshes, and tidal mudflats. Slowly stalks prey in shallow water. Often seen singly, but sometimes gathers in large numbers where food is plentiful. Breeds in colonies, frequently mixed with other egrets and herons.

Little ringed Plover

Delicately built small plover with bright yellow eye rings. Note dull pinkish legs and large white forehead patch (in adults). Plumage much like bulkier Ringed Plover, but white eyebrow continues unbroken across forehead. In flight shows narrow, indistinct whitish wing stripe. Breeds on stony substrates around lakes, gravel pits, and along rivers; migrants occur in wide variety of fresh and brackish wetland habitats, but rarely out on open tidal areas.

Eurasian Spoonbill

Distinctive, large white wading bird with a spatula for a bill. Adult has short crest, yellowish breast patch. First year has paler bill, with fine black wingtips visible in flight. Sleeping birds have horizontal posture and bulging neck, vs. more vertical stance of egrets. Found in wetlands with shallow water (including tidal flats), where feeds by sweeping its bill side-to side for crustaceans and small fish. May be confused with egrets when sleeping, but note stockier, more thickset overall appearance.


A common, widespread resident across Asia and Africa. Adult males have a reddish iris, blue grey upperparts and fine brownish-orange barring on underparts. Females have a yellowish iris and brownish grey upperparts. Both have narrow dark barring on the tail. Juveniles are browner with a prominent moustachial stripe and streaked underparts. It hunts for a wide variety of prey in woodland, savannah, and even suburban gardens, dashing out from perches within vegetation to grab its prey.

Indian Vulture

A light brown, medium-sized vulture. It has whitish feathers on a dark head and neck, a pale bill, and a pale collar which is more prominent behind the neck. The juvenile has a dark bill, more white feathering on the head and neck, and browner plumage overall, with pale streaks on breast and belly. In flight, note the pale underparts and underwing contrasting with the dark flight feathers. The species nests in colonies on cliffs and ruins, and occasionally in trees.

Egyptian Vultur

Odd-looking, pale, medium-sized vulture with a bare, solemn-looking yellow face. The bill is narrow with a black tip. In flight, the deep-fingered black flight feathers contrasting with white inner feathers may recall White Stork, but the tail is wedge shaped. Juveniles are dirty brown with bare grey faces. An inhabitant of open or semi open areas, nesting on cliffs and less frequently in trees. Scavenges at rubbish dumps in addition to carcasses, but sadly is in decline over much of its wide range.

Eurasian Hoopoe

Utterly unmistakable orange bird with a zebra-striped wings, a Chinese fan of a crest (usually held closed, but often raised just after landing), and a rapier of a bill. Favours semi open habitats such as heathland, farmland, orchards, grassy lawns, where it feeds on the ground, probing with its long bill for insects. Flight fast and fairly direct, with rather deep wingbeats. Unlikely to be confused, but flight pattern and round wings may loosely resemble that of woodpeckers; note far longer and thinner bill.

Common Wood shrike

A medium-sized wood shrike with greyish-brown upperparts, black facial mask, white rump, and grey tail with white outer tail feathers. Bill strongly hooked, dark greyish-brown in colour. Underparts white. Similar to Malabar Woodshrike and Large Woodshrike, but generally found in drier forests; also note prominent white supercilium. Usually found in dry forested areas and shrublands. Bright, fast-paced song starts out with two strident “wheeet” notes, followed by a descending series of shorter notes. Calls vary, but usually sound like isolated fragments of song.

Greater Flame back Woodpecker

Common, four-toed, large-billed, golden-backed woodpecker found in wet tropical and subtropical forests across South and Southeast Asia. Separated from the group of “small- billed” flame backs by a much larger bill, a mottled black-and-white nape instead of a black nape, and a divided black horizontal stripe below the cheek. Separated from the similarly large-billed White-naped Woodpecker by a red rump, the lack of a clean white nape, and a preference for wetter habitat. Greater Flame back is a loose participant in mixed-species foraging flocks, often detected by its loud, high-pitched trill similar to that of Common Flame back.

Oriental Magpie Robin

A medium-sized robin with a broad white wing bar running from the shoulder to the tip of

the wing. Note whiteouter tailfeathers, particularly when in flight. Males sport black-and-

white plumage while the females aregreyishbrown and white.Juveniles resemble females,

but have a scaly head and upperparts. They have a good repertoire of melodious calls and

are known to imitate other bird calls. The most commonly heard call is a whistle given at

dawn. Most often seen singing from a high exposedperch. These birds are often seen in

cultivated areas, open woodlands, and gardens.

Purple Sunbird

The breeding male is a metallic blue and purple overall with maroon feathers on the breast. The female is olive above and yellow below. The nonbreeding male of this species is primarily olive-brown with blackish upperparts and yellow underparts with blue-black band running down the throat and chest. Females can be distinguished from female Purple- rumped Sunbirds by its yellow (not greyish) throat. Seen in pairs, feeding chiefly on nectar, but they also take insects. Breeding males display by fluttering their wings in front of females while singing. They are found in gardens, cultivated areas, and forest

Grey Francolin

A small gamebird with an orangish face and fine barring throughout. Males and females are similar. Occurs in open grassy areas such as dry grasslands, scrub, and agricultural land. Often found in groups. Call, sometimes given simultaneously by several birds, is a loud repetitive “kateetar-kateetar”.

Rufous Treepie

A long- and stiff-tailed bird with primarily rusty-brown upperparts and dull orangish underparts. The head, mantle, and neck region are a dull, sooty black. The long-graduated tail is pale grey with a wide black terminal band. Note the conspicuous silvery-grey, white, and black patterns on the wings. The blackish-grey bill is stout with a hooked tip. Found in a wide range of habitats from woodlands to scrubby patches, singly or in pairs feeding in the treetops. The call is a loud metallic “krowwiiii kroo.”

Long tailed Shrike

A large, noisy shrike typical of open habitats across Asia. Adults have a dark mask and a light greyupper back with a variable amount of orange on lower back and flanks. Eastern

subspecies has complete black cap; melanistic form has more extensive dark mask and is

darker overall. Smaller Bay-backed Shrike has thicker black mask; Gray-backed Shrike has

darkergreyback and lacks orange coloration and white in wings. Juveniles difficult to

separate from other juvenile shrikes. Gives loud, screeching calls; also mimics other birds.

Rose ringed Parakeet

Vibrantly bright green parakeet, frequently found in woodland, parks, gardens, where feeds mainly in trees. Nests in cavities, including holes in buildings. Easilyoverlooked if quiet, as the bright green plumage blends easily with foliage. Note the very long slender tail, bright red bill; male has narrow black-and-rose neck ring. Closely resembles larger Alexandrine Parakeet, which has a wine-red patch on each shoulder. Like other parakeets, raucous and social, often appearing in noisy groups.

Plum headed Parakeet

A brilliantly-colouredparakeet; males have a plum-colouredhead while females have

greyish-blue head. Endemic to the Indian subcontinent where it can occur in any well-

wooded area outside NE India and the high Himalayas. Similar to the largely non-

overlapping Blossom-headed Parakeet, but shows a darker shade of plum orgreyon the

head and a white-tipped tail (not yellow). They also lack the red shoulder patch seen on

Blossom-headed females. A yellow upper bill separates it from all overlapping parakeets. Call is a distinctive, short, and high-pitched “tui.”

Brahminy Starling

A small fawn-coloured starling with a long wispy crest that usually lies limp over the back of its head, but the feathers on its cheek and upper breast stand up and away from its cheek. Its upperparts are grey and the dark tail is tipped in white. Note the yellow bill with a blue base. Often seen in small family groups, feeding on fruits and nectar as well as insects on the ground or in the trees. They have a wide repertoire of calls and are also given to mimicking other species.

Asian Pied Starling

This sharply attired black-and-white starling has a pointed yellowish bill with an orange base. Note the bare, deep orange patch around its eye that contrasts with its white cheek. Seen in loose flocks close to human habitation feeding on human refuse. Garbage dumps, damp grazing lands, andwell-wateredparks are its favoured haunts. Noisy with a variety of calls that includes mimicked sounds of other birds.

Eurasian Collared Dove

Large pale dove with a black crescent on the nape. Slightly smaller and paler than Rock Pigeon, with a proportionately longer, square-tipped tail. Favours farms and suburbs; avoids areas with extensive forests. Typically seen in pairs or small loose groups; forms larger flocks in winter. Widespread and common throughout much of Eurasia, India, and northern Africa.

Laughing Dove

Small, similar in size to European Turtle-Dove. Tail is strikingly long with white corners and a greycentre, but is all white underneath. Its body is pastel shades of brown and pink with a spotted black collar. Usually associated with human-modified landscapes, such as

plantations, gardens, and urban areas as long as some trees are present. The call is a

repetitious “coo-coo coo ru” replicated 5–8 times.

Red wattled Lapwing

A distinctly marked lapwing with a black breast and throat and a red bill with a black tip. It also sports red wattles in front of the eyes and a white patch that runs down the cheeks to the underparts. In flight, note the black flight feathers that contrast with the white wing patch. Usually found in small groups around water bodies, agricultural fields, and dry land. They feed primarily on insects, catching them in a typical plover like manner, running a short distance and picking up food from ground.

Yellow wattled Lapwing

Elegantly long-winged brown lapwing. Breeding adult has clean black cap, bright yellow

facial wattles, and a white belly. Non-breeding adults and juveniles are more mottled overall and lack a solid black cap. Note contrasting wing and tail pattern when in flight. Prefers dry open areas,often well away from water. Gives a loud rasping tern-like call and a loud “cheeeee’it” in alarm;generally,not as noisy as other lapwings.

Large Gray Babbler

Large grey-brown babbler with piercing yellow eyes. Can be confused with Jungle Babbler, with which it sometimes associates; look for strong dark lores and a darker bill. Favours scrubby areas, forest edge, and open dry forests. Like many other related babblers, typically hops around on the ground in flocks. Chatters persistently; the most common call is a loud, nasal “kaaa-kaaa-kaaa”.

Jungle Babbler

This familiar ash-browncolouredbabbler has a yellow bill and a dark brow in front of the eye that contrasts with its pale eye giving it a perpetual “angry” look. It has vague streaking on the upperparts, diffuse mottling on its throat, and barring on its tail. The multiple races vary slightly incolourand strength of markings except the race somervillei of the NW peninsula which has dark brown outer wing feathers that contrast with the rest of the wing. They are often seen in noisy flocks hopping on the ground and flicking litter in search of food.

Common Babbler

Faintly streaked warm buffy-brown babbler. Dark eyes and and pale throat separate this species from the similar Striated Babbler. A common and familiar city and town bird throughout much of its range; A bird of scrubby plains, open forests, forest edges, and overgrown cultivation. Whickers, trills, squeaks, and chirps loudly as flocks hop about on the ground and in low undergrowth.

Black Redstart

Distinctive orange tail, best seen when flashed open or in flight. Varies considerably within

range. Western birds are darker overall; male is slaty blackish, female smokygreyishoverall.

Eastern males have extensive orange on the underparts, and femalesare warm brown.

Occupies varied open habitats, often but not always with a rocky component. Feeds mainly

on or near the ground, perching rather upright; sings from prominent perches.

Common Stonechat

Chunky little bird of open landscapes; often sits on exposed perches. Breeding male has a black head, broad white half-collar, and rusty-red chest. Non-breeding male is patchier, with a paler head and chest. Female is predominantly streaky brown above, with a weaker, less contrasting face and chest pattern. European Stonechat is very similar, and can pose identification problems where the species overlap; look for Siberian’s larger white wing patch, duller orange on the chest, and whiter rump

PiedBush chat

A sedentary “chat” associated with open habitats intropical and subtropical Asia. Males are black with a white vent and a white wing patch. Females are dark brown with a reddish- brown rump and underparts. Females can resemble the migratory Siberian Stonechat, but can be separated by the absence of an eyebrow and of any white on the collar or wing. Rather conspicuous; it may use and sing from any open perch unlike more discerning stonechats. Calls include a rising “whee” and hard, decisive “chruk.”

River Tern

Widespread inland tern of South and mainland Southeast Asia. Breeding adults have full

black cap and palegreywings; white belly, larger size, and heavier structure distinguishes

this species from the less common Black-bellied Tern where their breeding ranges overlap.

Non-breeding adult has patchy black on the head instead of a full cap, and juvenile has

mottled brownish-greyback with a partial black “mask”. Favors freshwater sites, breeding on sandy islands. Gives a grating “kYYEER” note.

Indian spot billed Duck

A largegreyish-brown duck with a diagnostic yellow-tipped black bill and a red spot at the

base of the bill (missing in certain subspecies). In flight, note the green panel in the wing that is bordered in white. Often seen in small groups dabbling or tipping up in shallow water or walking on marshy land at the edge of freshwater lakes or in cultivated fields. Usually not seen associating with other species

Little Cormorant

An all-black ducklike waterbird with a distinctive flattish head and a bill that is sharply hooked at the tip. Smallest of the cormorants found in the region. Breeding adults have white plumes on the sides of the head. Like all cormorants, frequently seen swimming with its body low in the water, head and neck pointing upward, and suddenly disappearing underwater to catch fish. Often perches upright on a rock, drying itself with outstretched wings. Seen singly or in small groups in inland water bodies.

Indian Cormorant

A dark ducklike waterbird with blue-green eyes, a rounded head, a sloping forehead, and a

long and slender bill that is sharply hooked at the tip. Adults are black, immatures are

brownish with white underparts. Like all cormorants, frequently seen swimming with its body low in the water, head and neck pointing upward, and suddenly disappearing underwater to catch fish. Often perches upright on a rock, drying itself with outstretched wings. Seen in small groups, fishing communally in inland water bodies.

Great Cormorant

Large cormorant found nearly worldwide. Note large size, white patch on throat, and lack of crest. Breeding adults show circular white patch on flanks. Immatures typically have contrasting white belly; African "White-breasted" also has extensive white underparts in all plumages. Often spotted standing on rocks or pilings. Dives frequently, feeding on fish. Found in many types of water bodies, ranging from rivers to reservoirs to marine environments; in North America, restricted to coastal North Atlantic.

Black headed Ibis

A large wader with a white body and bare black head and neck. Males and females look

similar and both havegreyishtail feathers. It probes into mud and shallow water with its

long, down curved black bill, sometimes submerging its entire head. Found primarily around wetlands including agricultural fields and occasionally around coastal areas, but also seen foraging in dry fields and human-modified landscapes.

Grey Heron

Generally,quite common and conspicuous in wetland habitats from marshes and tidal flats

to small ponds, ditches, and wet fields; nests colonially in tall trees. Mainly seen as singles or in small groups, standing quietly in or at the edge of water, less often hunting in fields.

Plumage mostlygreyoverall, with paler neck; adult has white crown, black eyebrows, and

black shoulder patch. Like other herons and egrets, flies with neck pulled in to form a bulge.

Pond Heron

A small heron that is common in most aquatichabitats across the Indian subcontinent.

Adults in breeding plumage have a dark reddish brown backthose contrastswith a yellowish head, neck, and breast. In nonbreedingplumage,they are virtually indistinguishable from nonbreeding Chinese Pond-Heron. In flight, adults appear surprisingly white due to their strikingly white wings, underparts, and tail. Although typically solitary, large numbers often gather where food is plentiful. Prone to seasonally local movements and vagrancy.

Black winged Stilt

Fairly common to locally common in warmer regions. Favours wetlands with open shallow water, often brackish; breeds on bare ground near water, often in noisy colonies. Striking and essentially unmistakable, with elegant shape, boldly pied plumage, long hot-pink legs, and long, very fine bill. Feeds by wading in water, picking with its bill from the water surface. In flight, long pink legs stick out far beyond tail.

Pied Avocet

Striking and essentially unmistakable, with elegant shape, boldly pied plumage, long bluish- grey legs, and long, slender, upcurved bill. Curve is stronger on female. Usually breeds in small colonies; nesting birds call noisily. Nonbreeding flocks locally number in hundreds. Feeds while wading or swimming, sweeping its bill side to side. Most common in coastal wetlands and brackish lagoons and estuaries, but will also appear inland, particularly on or near large lakes.

Bar headed Goose

Striking and distinctive goose. Bold black-and-white head and neck pattern unlike any other goose; also note orangey-yellow bill and legs. In flight appears mainly pale grey with broad black trailing edge to wings. Breeds around lakes and marshes on highland plateaus; winters in lowland wetlands and fields. Native to East and South Asia, but escapees from waterfowl collections are occasionally seen free-flying elsewhere in the world.

White Throated Kingfisher

Large-headed, predominantly brown kingfisher with electric-blue back and wings, heavy orange bill, and snow-white patch from the throat through the breast. Common both near and away from water; frequently seen perched on fence posts and telephone lines near wetlands, lakes, agricultural fields, and clearings. Gives jarring, raptor-like descending trills and cackles, often in flight.

Pied Kingfisher

Boldly marked black-and-white kingfisher with short, bushy crest and glossy all-dark bill. Superficially similar to Crested Kingfisher, but smaller, with much more distinctly patterned head and breast and less erect crest. Frequently seen perched in pairs or small groups. Often hovers over water when seeking prey. Inhabits a wide range of waterside habitats, from lakes to estuaries to mangroves.

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