Friday, August 13, 2010

Birds of Corbett

Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India and has a wide variety of flora and fauna. The critically endangered Royal Bengal Tiger rules the jungle here and that has converted this national park into a popular ecotourism destination. However, the park has over 580 species of birds alone. Here are some of the birds I photographed in my recent visit to the park.

Indian Roller or Blue Jay (Coracias benghalensis) is a beautiful, bright bird and is the state bird of 4 states – Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa. The Roller gets its name from the aerobatic display the male puts up with its twists and turns during the breeding season. The birds have an assortment of colors like bright blue, turquoise, indigo and white on their wings and are a visual treat in flight. They are commonly seen in open grasslands, scrub forests and are often perched on dead trees and electric lines. They are easily one of the most photogenic birds around.

Chestnut-tailed Starling (Sturnia malabarica) is a member of the Starling family of birds. A sub species exists in the Western Ghats which has a white head. These Starlings are omnivorous and feed on insects, nectar and fruits. Like most Starlings, these birds fly in a tight flock and have the ability to change directions rapidly with perfect synchrony.

Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) is a bird of prey that is found widely across many different habitats in India. In comparison to other large raptors, the bird is fairly medium-sized. They hunt for snakes and lizards by flying over the forest canopy. They usually make nests close to a water body. These eagles have a prominent yellow eye and are a treat to watch and photograph.

White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus) was earlier known as the Shama Thrush. The bird is a melodious singer and has a rich, clear voice. It is also known to mimic other birds often. While photographing this bird, I recall how it kept singing. When other birds joined in, the Shama began to mimic songs and calls, including that of the Common Hawk Cuckoo, or the Brain-Fever bird! They are mainly insectivorous birds. During the breeding season, the female builds the nest in the hollow of a tree, while the male stands guard.

Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis) is a common bird and can be found in various habitats like grasslands, scrub jungles and even away from water. They have vibrant colors and when perched together, they make a colorful sight. As the name suggests, Bee-eaters mainly feed on bees, wasps, ants and dragonflies. A Bee-eater repeatedly thrashes the prey on a branch to remove the sting from its prey before feeding on it.

For more images from Corbett, visit my Flickr page.