With most people confined to their homes in this lockdown, this is the perfect opportunity to spend unhindered time at our balconies observing birds — a brief respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. Popular wildlife illustrator and cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty believes the lockdown has given everyone an interesting opportunity to pay attention to the innumerable living species surrounding us within the vicinity of our houses that would otherwise go unnoticed. Here, through his illustrations, he shows us some of the birds we can spot from our gardens, balconies and windows.
The Sykes’s Warbler
With its long tail and flat forehead and crown, it is found in central India and is a bird of the shrub forest, not common in the rest of the country. The Sykes’s Warbler is special in the fact that it migrates over 5,000 kms all the way from Central Asia, after leaving its breeding ground once it starts snowing, and returns to the same spot every year.
With their bodies appearing dipped in rose colour and pitch black wings, they have a spectacular movement of murmuration where they move in flocks of thousands in the sky, putting together a synchronised performance. They can be seen in urban environments after migrating to central India and their visit coincides with the blooming of the palash and silk-cotton trees since they are very fond of their nectar.
The Indian Robin
A small black bird, it is shown here with its red “vent” that hides beneath its tail and is unfurled by the male as part of its courtship display. It is a common bird throughout the Indian peninsula that can be found in lawns, gardens and wooden areas and is a classic example of the backyard bird that is mostly found in pairs.
A bird of prey, it was considered a hunter’s best friend during the pre-independence era, famous for hunting wild animals in their natural habitat. The name ‘shikra’ has its roots in the word ‘Shikari’ that means hunter in Hindi and Urdu. Adaptive to city life, the small bird found in peninsula India, hunts down squirrels and mice and can also hunt birds that are the size of a pigeon.
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