Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mumbai's feathered citizens

It all started with a very cheeky thief.
I was standing right next to my Custard Apple tree and admiring the fruit ripening when I saw this green bandit tearing open the sweet fruit and helping himself, as bold as you please!
After I had finished insulting him in every language I knew (and every self-respecting Indian is fluent in at least 3, if not more), I had to admire his sheer gall! I mean, I was right there and he was stealing my fruit away right under my nose. Almost as if he were entitled to it. Or like a true street-smart city guy who saw an opportunity and snatched it.
I swear that it was my sneaking admiration that made me look out for other birds that call Mumbai home.

Where there is one Large Indian Parakeet, or even a Roseringed Parakeet, there is bound to be more. Sure enough, his buddy was sitting high up on the teak tree, tearing the seed pods to pieces.
Teak seeds when there was sweet custard apple at hand? Hmmm ... maybe he was on a high-fibre, sugar-free health trip!

That's not all that'll take their fancy. They're especially fond of tender cashew nuts. When the nuts are still green, the outer shell is still soft enough for their strong, tough beak. They come in huge flocks and descend on my cashew trees, screeching and squabbling amongst themselves. In a few minutes, the ground under the tree is littered with empty nut-shells, greedily torn open for the precious kernel. This doesn't stop their squabbling though because they rise up en masse and descend on the next tree to continue their feasting and gossiping!
Thieves and bandits they may be but they're definitely some of the greatest entertainers in the avian world.

So, who else calls Mumbai their home?
Definitely the common House Crow. As resourceful and shrewd as any person in Mumbai, if not more. He may not win any beauty pageants (totally unlike some stunningly beautiful girls from Mumbai) but what he lacks in looks, he makes up for in the grey cells category. He's omnipresent... look out of any window and you'll find at least 2 or 3 of their tribe on the lookout for a quick meal that they can snatch.

His relative, the Jungle Crow, is a total boor. Bigger, noisier, more aggressive and ill-mannered and not too bothered about who doesn't like him. Every year a flock of Jungle Crows come sweeping into my garden, possibly trying to outrun the cold Himalayan winter chill breezes. They pull out my plants from their pots, snap orchid canes, break off flower-buds and generally make a thorough nuisance of themselves. I'm really glad to see them go. The House Crow looks almost genteel in comparison !

Hidden here in this photo, you'll find one of my favourite birds.
What? You can't see him? Look closer ... there! do you see him perched on those buds near the top of the photo? Maybe it'll help if you'll look for a patch of yellow topped by a metallic gleam of black-green and purple.
Allow me to present one of our tiniest and prettiest birds ... the Purple-rumped Sunbird!

I just love watching their hyperactive lifestyle (sooner them than me!). They flit in and out near the flowering plants, perch daintily on a flower-stalk to sip their fill with their curving beaks and then zip off to the next one. The Thunbergia grandiflora seems to be a favourite with them. So is the Cardinal ipomoea.

I didn't crop this photo so I could give you an idea of just how tiny they are. Did you spot the female Purplerumped Sunbird? There she is, right on top of the Cordia sebestiana (Geiger tree), taking a sip out of the orange flower right on top. Like all the avian females, she's decided the male of the species are nothing to dress up for, and looks rather drab.

Here she is again behind the Geiger flowers! She has just spotted me aiming my camera at her and is immediately alert. Doesn't she look cute, going up on her toes to get a better look?

Here's a closer look at her. This is taken from the window of my apartment on a busy street in Mumbai. Luckily the vertical growth of the city seems to be helping me in watching birds at a closer range than I would otherwise be able to.

And that's a closer look at her boyfriend. Isn't he magnificent!
I wish I had a better photo which would show him in all his metallic gleaming splendour. Since I don't have a good one which I took myself, I'm adding a link to one I found on the Net.

I found this Sunbird nest the other day, Slightly dilapidated but still identifiable with all kinds of fluff and junk incorporated into the making of it. What I find really cute is the little projection above the entrance hole. A little over-hang to keep the rain and sun out while Mrs. Sunbird is busy keeping the eggs warm but still poking her head out for fresh air and just to keep her eye on things!

The Weaver bird's nest seems to follow the same suspended style but is much more elaborate. This is an incomplete one which I found lying on the ground and hung it up hoping to lure more of them into my garden.

I love the cheery yellow on the Weaver bird. He looks like a sparrow who went technicolour!This one was a regular visitor to my garden in summer but I think he was staying in the tadgola (palmyrah) palm trees nearby. I've seen huge colonies of weaver birds there busy making their incredible nests.

Another gorgeous yellow bird is the Golden Oriole which is unfortunately a winter visitor as far as I know. I've never seen them around in the other seasons. I found them incredibly shy and difficult to photograph . All that I usually see of them is a quick flash of gold as they flit between trees.

Another of my favourites is the Paradise Flycatcher. The adult male is spectacular with a gleaming black crest on his head and white body with 2 extra-long tail feathers that flutter and trail behind him like streamers as he flies.

The only problem with him is that he's very shy. The slightest sound or motion and he's off again to another corner.

Another crested favourite is the Redwhiskered Bulbul. I love his birdcall ... its such a liquid sound! He is a very common bird in Indian gardens but a very welcome one, if only for his cheerful call and perky looks.

His cousin, the Redvented Bulbul doesn't look so cute but his birdcall is just as cheery. I see them very often on my Michaellia champaca tree, feeding on the berries. They're apparently just as fond of snacking on termites. Hey, no wonder I like them!

And this is how he got his name ... see that flash of red ?

Maybe this is the cause? I'm not suggesting anything, but I've seen the Bulbuls gorging on these extra-spicy bird's eye chillies as if they were going on a diet the next day!

And of course, how could I forget the pigeons? They're so much a part of the Mumbai city-scape.

While I may grouch at them for messing up my window-sills and stuffing my ac-unit with twigs for nesting, there are many people in Mumbai who enjoy feeding these lucky birds. Kabutarkhaanas all over Mumbai are where they go to throw grain to the pigeons, and far from being bird-brains, the pigeons have quickly learnt where to hang around if they want a free meal.

I would have named these the Pariah Kites seen all over Mumbai. But they seem to lack the forked tail which is so distinctive of the Pariah Kites. So are these Tawny Eagles instead?
A pair of them had nested on a palmyra palm tree near my apartment. I can't say much about their housekeeping skills because their nest seemed to be a jumble of sticks and the dried flowers of the palm . But their parenting skills are fantastic with both parents chipping in to take great care of their heir (or heiress).

The Indian Mynah is one of the most commonly seen birds in the gardens in Mumbai. He's a bossy little guy who struts around making sure all bugs are kept in their place ... in his own tummy! The Mynah is one of the best assets a garden can have.
Both male and female are almost always seen together and seem to be one of those Made for Each Other couples that you always keep hearing about. But what really tickles my funny bone is that very bright mask and boots they seem to be wearing!

The Pied Mynah on the other hand is a seasonal visitor I think. Or is more shy (can such a word be applied to any Mynah?) than his cousin because I've only seen them in summer when they visit my birdbath.

This little guy is another of my best help in the garden. I'm not too sure what he's called but I think he must be an Ashy Wren-Warbler . He's got the same look and the perky tail which he keeps snapping up and down all the time.

Tinier than sparrows, I find them hopping around among the plants looking for bugs. Natural pest control!

There's no mistaking the Tailor Bird though. With his pointy needle-like beak, he's quite a jaunty little character. And yes, he's another very welcome friend in the garden. He'll even hop onto a tree-trunk hunting for his food. Do you see him clinging on to the cashew tree?
And what does he eat? Insects, their eggs and grubs.... need I say more?
Remember Rudyard Kipling's 'Rikki-Tikki Tavi'? Mr. and Mrs. Tailor Bird played quite a big role in that book . And considering that Kipling spent quite a few years living in Mumbai (back when it was still called Bombay) , it isn't surprising that so many of our commonly seen animals and birds show up in his books.

The Coppersmith Barbet is more often heard than seen in Mumbai. His repetitive and resonating tuk-tuk-tuk calls seem to come from every direction at once. When I first saw him (not easy, he's so well-camouflaged in leaf-green feathers. The red cap can give him away, though), I was surprised that such a loud sound was coming from such a small bird.
That's a lot of lung power in such a little guy!

The Cattle Egret is a common sight in marshy areas and the mangroves of Mumbai see a lot of them. They got their name from the fact that they're often seen near grazing cattle, looking out for insects and frogs which show themselves when disturbed by the cattle.
This guy came visiting me one day, tempted by the frogs near my lawn, I think. He wouldn't stay though, and took off as soon as he saw me. I wish he had stayed ... he could've feasted on the grasshoppers too.

Sparrows are common all over the world I think. But the Spice Finch or Nutmeg Mannikin seen here with the sparrow, seems to be on the bird fanciers' list. Lucky for me, they seem to like my garden and don't need to be caged to stay around and be seen.

The Babblers are not the cutest of birds. In fact, they look a little mean and suspicious . Maybe that's why they're always found in a group of their own, foraging through the dry leaves and undergrowth.

The Black Drongo is another of our common birds and also one of our most vigilant. You'll often find them perched on a branch or wire, looking out for insects. I love their quick swooping flights when they find a juicy tempting morsel ... which seems to be very often in my garden.

How did I almost forget the Magpie-Robin? Burdened with a double-barrelled name, he's still one of the cheeriest birds in Mumbai. He looks a bit frowzled here because he's sitting on a bare branch on a windy day.

He's usually very sleek and dapper as you see in this photo. The female is dark gray, not black . I see them hopping around my lawn looking out for insects. Bon Appetit!

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the birds in Mumbai. I've left out too many because I'm running out of space (I am writing a blog, not a book) and also because I don't have their photos.
But I just can't go without showing you one of the most brilliantly coloured birds that visit my garden in Mumbai ... the Whitebreasted Kingfisher.
What is a Kingfisher doing in a garden? This one like most city-dwellers, is not fussy. In fact he's downright adventurous in his food habits. I've seen him hunting butterflies and I even read a post which described him eating baby snakes.
How much more cosmopolitan can you get?

(the quality of some of these photos leaves a lot to be desired ... sorry! Clicking tiny birds which are more than 30 - 40 feet away and more, needs a more powerful camera than my point-and-shoot)


  1. Sunita,
    That is such a beautiful cataloguing of birds ... I really loved it ... :)

  2. The only bird I recognize is the pigeon. All the others are so extraordinary. I've only seen a few in zoos. It must be great seeing them each day in the wild.

  3. What a treat! An excellent piece on birds Sunita. I didn't know you had sooo many visitors to your garden. You have an aviary in your garden. I have a friend whose husband came to my garden to take photos of birds. What birds I ask myself? The ones I can't find to take photos of. But he managed to find them (he has one of those expensive SLR cameras with powerful zoom lenses). I will send him this link and I know that he is going to die with delight.

  4. Wow, there are so many birds here, its a feast for my eyes! I love them all.

  5. What a garden you have! Thanks for this post! Got your message, and no, it not too late!

  6. This is such a feast. Please please buy a SLR and a good zoom lens or even a point and shoot with good zoom. These birds are so pretty.

  7. The Indian Parakeet looks the same color as the foliage. I had to really look at the first picture to find it. A first I thought it was a turtle of some kind ;-) I need my eyes checked. Wonderful shots of the birds. I love seeing the ones we never have around here.They are always so much colorful.

  8. Thank you for such a novel way to learn about the birds of Mumbai. I think you must have a delightful garden full of such lively colors - the birds rival the flowers. And the sounds I can only imagine. Beautiful.

  9. are beautiful.
    The weaver bird's nest has never failed to amaze me...I loved the kingfisher snap. I hardly get to see them anymore...

  10. Thanks, Rajee. You must be seeing many more on your side of the Great Divide, right?

    Aaah but you have hummingbirds, don't you Tina? Tell you what, you can have all the House Crows and Jungle Crows in my garden if you'll give me just one teensy little hummingbird.
    Oh... all right, you can have the pigeons too. Deal? ;D

  11. I know exactly what you mean, Helen. I was a bit surprised when I started putting this post together. I was under the impression that my garden didn't have many interesting birds. Now I find that I've left out so many that deserve to be here.
    Sigh! I've been dreaming about a good DSLR camera for some time now. Maybe I should concoct some great anniversary or something to help my husband into gifting me one.

    Thanks, Autumn Belle. Glad you liked this post :)

  12. Glad to hear that, flowergirl. I thought I had got a bit carried away.

    Great idea, Mridula. In fact I've been lusting after a DSLR. Let's see how things work out.

    Lona, that was funny! Actually he is so well-camouflaged isn't he? I was standing very close to him and didnt see him for a very long time.

    Stephanie, I know I am very lucky to have my garden filled with birds. I love watching them.
    Sounds? If the parrots are here you'll need earplugs :)

  13. Thanks, Urban Green :)
    I absolutely agree with you about the weaver bird's nest. Its superb. And imagine ... they only have their beak, and sometimes their feet, to create it!
    Kingfishers are gorgeous arent they? This one wasn't in the least bit afraid. He let me get up quite close to him.

  14. I loved seeing so many birds from your area. We have the nutmeg mannikin and the bulbul, both imports, but established here in southern California. The weaver's nest is most impressive. I feel like I took a visit to Mumbai.

  15. I can't believe that your camera is only a point and shoot, you take amazing pictures! What a huge variety of birds, it must have taken you a long time to collect this many pictures. I have to admit, the first shot is my favourite, all that green (bird and background too)is gorgeous.

  16. Truly amazed to note that the birds are very bold in your place especially those parrots.
    Seen these ringparrots at the temple street grounds and they are used as fortune-telling birds. They pick a card and later the fortune teller interpret it.
    Wonder if that is still practiced in your place?

  17. Thanks, Mary. The nutmeg mannikins seem to be quite resilient if they've set up home in South California too. But the bulbuls are fun, aren't they? They're such perky little guys.

    Thanks Deborah. My point and shoot camera is good enough for all the times I carry it around with me in the garden. Its got some great settings which I love but I really feel at a disadvntage when I want to photograph birds.
    The first photo of the parrot makes me smile too :)

    Parrots are very inquisitive and yes, bold creatures. I think they've worked out that there's nothing to fear in my garden.
    The fortune-tellers normally use the smaller Roseringed parakeets, I think. They're hardly ever seen in Mumbai any more. The animal rights people here are very active. On the other hand I think they're still found in smaller towns and villages.

  18. Good morning Sunita what a fantastic and impressive post. Thank you for enlighten us about the Mumbai bird-wildlife.

    Great stuff/ Tyra

  19. hi sunita,
    its really amazing to see your account of all the birdlife in Mumbai. The general impression is that Mumbai is mostly a concrete jungle but you are very lucky to enjoy a beautiful garden along with the perks that go with it.I too have lived in Mumbai during a different lifetime [ in my college days] and done some bird watching but havent seen the smaller birds described by you.
    of course living now in Chennai with reasonable amount of greenery around I shall try to identify the different birds coming here . Sure I hear bird calls all the time but havent had the time to track and identify them.
    Waiting for your next instalment on birds , until then, bye.

  20. The first image that comes to my mind when ever I think of amchi MUMBAI... is that its a CONCRETE JUNGLE... but just looking at the shots of so many winged visitors.. & the greenery ard....I just have to compliment you for your efforts in bringing NATURE alive in the heart of Mumbai. Kudos! Great Blog.

  21. Hi Tyra! And a good evening to you too. Its nice seeing you here again. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post :)

    Hi Arundati! Your reference to a different lifetime made me smile. College days really are a different lifetime :)
    Mumbai is such an amazing blend ... the concrete jungles are very much a major part of the cityscape but I dont think Nature has given up on us just yet. So the birds and butterflies are still there waiting to be found if one just looks a bit closer ;)
    If you're in Chennai you dont have to look very far for the feathered folk. From what I remember of it, Chennai definitely has a denser green cover than Mumbai does. So get yourself a good birding book (Salim Ali's 'The Book of Indian Birds' was the starting point for me).
    I hope you'll not wait till my next bird post before you decide to come back here. There are plenty of bugs, butterflies and blooms also being posted here.

  22. Evergreen tree ... what a nice thing to say! Thank you.

  23. Wow! What a great ornithological look at your urban oasis. And people wonder why I want to go to India! I'd probably dislocate my neck looking at all the birds. Thanks for sharing!

  24. I love seeing your birds. We have a few in common, the cattle egret and the pigeon of course. Our crows are similar and very intelligent. That flycatcher with the amazing tail was my favorite. How beautiful.

  25. It's good to see your birds, cheeky, though they may be! They are exotic and beautiful to my western eyes! The parrots look sort of familiar ;) and the pigeon. gail

  26. Shady C , you're in for a real treat if you're on a bird-watching trip to India. Take a look at my city birds and multiply it by about 1000 when you move out into the rural areas and again by 10,000 when you go into the forests!
    But there's so much more that I know will interest you like ... orchids? The north-eastern states are famous for them. I've been planning a trip there myself just to see the orchids.

  27. He is beautiful, isnt he Marnie? The young male is just as beautiful... he's rust coloured on his back with white underneath. And of course, that very distinctive black crested head.
    Crows and pigeons seem to reach everywhere, don't they? The crows by being super-intelligent, the pigeons by acting dumb but being smart!

  28. Thanks Gail. Do you know what I'd love to have visiting my garden? Hummingbirds! Or even a flaming red Cardinal.

  29. What a fabulous bird post, Sunita!
    I really enjoyed this. Are you aware that the IATB birding blog carnival comes to India in a few days? It is hosted by .flowergirl . It will be very nice to have you in it.

  30. Sunita ! I don't know how you get to do any gardening .. there are so many amazing beautiful birds in your back yard I would be distracted ALL of the time !
    You would laugh at us with how excited we get when our Goldfinches come back in the Spring and stay for the summer .. if we saw all of yours we would have whiplash of the neck from all of the twisting and turning trying to see them all ? LOL
    Fantastic post on the birds in YOUR garden girl !
    Joy : )

  31. Thanks, Amila. Coming from a master-birder, that means a lot to me :)
    Yes, Flowergirl did contact me about the I and The Bird blog carnival. In fact it was she who gave me the necessary nudge to get this post moving. I had the photos, I knew what I wanted to write but was procrastinating about posting it almost forever and a day. Thank goodness for blog buddies who'll nudge one in the right direction :)

  32. Believe me, its a toss-up, Joy. I run out into the garden hearing a bird or seeing a butterfly and then linger to fidget with some plant or the other.
    You may not have so many birds but you dont have so many mosquitoes either, do you? Once you've seen our pterodactyl-sized mossies, I'm sure you'll settle for the lesser option!

  33. Oh, bravo! This has to be my favorite among all your posts (and that's saying a lot - all are of such a high quality and such a pleasure to read). I love how you have written about each bird, just as if they were close and not-so-close friends and relatives!

  34. Sunita, your warm-hearted comments always bring a smile to my face and add a little joy to my day :)
    The feeling is mutual! I love your posts, and your perky narrative is just the icing on the cake :)
    I've had a wonderful time this morning seeing your photos and reading about the birds, butterflies, orchids and aliens of Mumbai. Such a treat...and educational at the same time.
    Thank you for sharing your wonder of nature with us in such a joyful manner :)

  35. Sunita...that's quite a variety! Much more than what I normally see here. The fly-catcher, the golden oriole are such gorgeous-looking birds! And your (natural) bird-bath must be a haven for birds and bird-watchers!! Your fruit trees are amazing. And the last shot of the kingfisher...WOW!!

  36. Sunita, don't delude yourself - this post is as good as a coffee table book on birds . What gorgeous photographs! It is beyond me how you got them all . and as usual adorned with your impeccably stylish writing. I love this post.

  37. Kamini, thanks1 I had to laugh at what you wrote about the not-so close relatives. How true! Maybe I would've changed that to 'not-so lovable' ... you're stuck with them and cant do a thing about it :D

  38. Kerri, it's always such a pleasure to see you here :) I'm so glad you liked this post.
    It is very encouraging when I read words of appreciation from a writer with such an enjoyable blog. Thank you.

  39. Thanks, Kanak.
    Somehow I have this mental picture of Assam being a very green place. Verdant and filled with all kinds of stunningly beautiful birds and butterflies. I would love to visit your state someday.

  40. Hello Raji. As usual, you know the perfect thing to say. Thank you.
    As to how I got them all, with a lot of endurance (of mosquito bites) and patience.

  41. Somehow I had this impression of Mumbai being just a concrete jungle, just can't believe it is home to all these birds and butterflies as you mentioned in an earlier post. Mea Culpa.

    Your pictures are a feast to the eyes and your posts to the heart.

    p.s. still can't believe - all those birds...(sheepish grin :-))

  42. Hi Sunita, this post could be a book, it is full of wonderful photos and exceptionally witty prose! Your land is so full of life, not just the human kind either! I loved seeing every single photo and reading about each bird. You are so knowledable. Thank you for enlightening us. :-)

  43. Bindu, don't worry... it happens to all of us. It's so easy to see the glass and gleam, and grime and grit and totally overlook the wildlife still going about their business in this city.
    But hold on to that grin ... here's another fact : there are leopards in Mumbai too. No, not the 2-legged ones but the genuine article! Isn't that amazing!
    Thanks for the nice words ... its very encouraging to come back and read this when I'm suffering from a major case of writer's block! ;D

  44. Thanks, Frances. Coming from you I really treasure that :)
    I keep finding new creatures every time I step out into the garden. Earlier I never used to look quite so closely but blogging seems to have given me microscopes instead of eyes. I wish I had cameras instead. What an idea ... see and click in the blink of an eye!

  45. Now this puts me to shame cause I don't know all the birds in my garden. You've done a grand job presenting them all.

    I thought it was sad that your fruits and nuts were being eaten but you seem to take it in stride. You've found humor amongst the ruins. Some are very colorful and I can see why you are amused by them.

    I use to marvel at the pictures in the Audobon books when I was a kid. You've shown me some birds that I'll never get the chance to see in person. This was a most enjoyable post to read and view.

  46. Look at it this way, Anna... it just goes to show how jobless I am ;)
    I do feel a little annoyed when the fruits are eaten by birds but then I think the chance to see these birds at such close range makes it all worthwhile.
    I'm glad that I got this chance to introduce my fellow-gardeners to you :D

  47. Hi Sunita~
    What a fabulous post! Lucky you to have such a wide variety of birds in your garden. I would be so delighted to see a Indian Parakeet in my garden, but not so delighted if it were eating the fruit. I always wondered what a cashew nut looked like on a tree. Very interesting!
    Happy gardening.

  48. I definitely don't blame some of Mumbai's feathered citizens for liking cashews-- they're delicious. The idea that one could even grow them in your own garden is even more delicious!

  49. Hi Karrita! Yes, I am beginning to realise how lucky I am to have all these birds in my garden. I think I took it all for granted earlier.
    The parrots have to be one the most entertaining creatures. Its fun watching them. The fruits, well, I decided long back that I would grow a little more than I really need. That way I wont feel bad if I lose some :)
    I did a post on cashew some months back. You might find this interesting :

  50. I love cashewnuts too, Gwendolyn!Plain, salted or added to various dishes, it just tastes so very yummy, doesn't it? Fattening, maybe, but then all the tastiest stuff seem to be fattening :P
    Unfortunately processing the nut is a real pain. It hsas to be dried and roasted to the perfect temperature and then chipped to remove the outer shell. Messy and a lot of work! Still, like you said, getting cashewnuts from one's own garden is really special.

  51. Wow. An urban garden... with parrots and kingfishers! And all the other avian treasures. Very enjoyable travelogue -- it was fun to be with you. Thanks.

  52. Wow, what beautiful birds you have! I'd go broke filling up bird feeders just to have them all visit my backyard. Maybe it's better that I live here...:)

  53. Great post Sunita. You are so lucky to have all this help in your garden. I imagine it is a very beautiful place to relax.

  54. You're right, Helen. It really is like finding a treasure trove! Every time I see a new bird in my garden I'm almost overcome with the thrill of it. And managing to get a photo is a real bonus.

    Water Roots, luckily in the tropics we dont have to put out bird feeders. There're way too many bugs and weeds with seeds. The only thing I really do for them is to make sure that their bird-bath is filled with water.

    Thanks, Larry. You're so right! I really need that help since I dont use chemicals in my garden.

  55. What an amazing post, Sunita! I am greatly informed too! While all the pictures are beautiful, the "green bandit" stands out!

    Your writing style is greatly appreciated!

    Navaratri greetings!

  56. Navratri greetings to you too, Murali.
    I'm so glad you liked this post. The parrot is a favourite with me too. I can't stay annoyed with them. They're so much fun!

  57. My favorite post here. I am a fan after this post.. loved the pictures, the little descriptions, and you are so lucky to enjoy and value the beauty around you, and luckier still that you do not think they are a nuisance.

  58. Glad you liked this post, IHM.
    I grew up in a home with a very big garden so I think that its ingrained in me.
    Nuisance? Sometimes, when those nasty Jungle Crows rip out my painstakingly potted orchids, peck big holes in their canes and wantonly snap off their buds. I could cheerfully massacre them then. But such bloodthirsty thoughts dont linger very long. The birds in my garden are more like extended family. I enjoy watching them and laugh at all their little quirks.

  59. First time here.Bowled over by your posts and amazing photographs. And thanks for identifying the sunbird for me..I was visited by one sometime ago. here's my post on the visit..

  60. Not just amazed that you have these gorgeous birds visiting your neighborhood, but also that you are to capture them so beautifully in your camera!!

    These are amazing pictures... love the way you tell their stories too.

  61. I really admire you for your patience in taking pictures of tiny birds. Sunbirds visit my place too, but I find it very difficult to photograph them. They move very fast. I liked all the birds in your garden.

    Came here from IHM's post. I too love birds and animals, a lot.

    Very interesting post, this on sure, is!

  62. Ooops! I just realised that I've been very rude and left one comment unanswered. Sorry, wordjunkie, I think I wandered over to your blog and hung around there instead.Hey, does your sunbird still visit?

    IHM, that's praise enough to make my day. Thank you! :)
    I think they find their way there from all the concrete conversions of Mumbai city. Plenty of room for all of them here . I just wish more birds would visit and decide to stay. But no crows please. There are already too many of them.

  63. Hello Sandhya. I'm glad you came over.
    You're right, you need lightning-quick reflexes to photograph the sunbirds. I think the best option is to try and get them near nectar-flowers where they like to feed. Thunbergia grandiflora is a big favourite with them, apparently, and I can always spot a few of them hovering near the Thunbergia creepers.

  64. i enjoyed reading this post! it's so interesting, not like one other book i read on indian birds. and the pictures made it easy to identify each bird!
    and i loved how you called the baby-eagle a heir/ heiress. :P

  65. Thank you, Blabberblah (what an interesting name!). This is by no means a comprehensive list of our Mumbai birds, as I'm sure you know. I hope I can add more posts about the others soon.
    About the heirs, well the tag fits so well. You should just see how much the parents pamper the baby! Spoilt rotten! :D

  66. Sunita,
    Your blog and the pictures are incredible. I've moved to Mumbai very recently and have been watching a parade of interesting birds from my 8th floor window. And I use your blog to identify the ones I dont know. Your blog is truly wonderful! wow!!

  67. Rahee, thanks for stopping by! I'm so glad this post is of some help to you.
    Is your flat near any patch of mangroves or any place with good tree cover? That would explain why your area is so popular with birds.
    Maybe you could invest in a good book on birds. I started my birdwatching adventures with Salim Ali's book. Very , very useful and crammed with information!

  68. WOW! Another post i really liked. I love bird watching! Just started it recently, last year to be precise! The photos are amazing! I have never seen a paradise flycatcher, everyone says to go to some bird park or the other to see them and you get to look at it in your garden!!! You are one lucky gal!!!! Wish I could come visit your garden and do some bird and plant watching!!! Superb blog! Keep writing!

  69. Hey, thanks Aakanksha :)
    The Paradise Flycatchers normally show up in winter so that's a good time to look out for them. They like to hang around any place with a lot of trees where they have good chances of finding a lot of flying insects. In fact, that's how you can find most of the birds ... just go some place where their food hangs out!
    Bird parks are a good idea because you can be sure of seeing a variety of birds but our gardens and parks in Mumbai are not too bad either.
    You can also lure some birds to your home or close by especially in summer ... just provide a shallow bowl of water . Make sure you keep it someplace where they won't feel too exposed or threatened.

  70. hey can any body tell me whether we can feed this lovely birds with some kind of food they might be eating... even i see many of this birds in my garden..

    i want a list of -- which bird eats what. (if possible)

    and where do we get this food in d market??


  71. Hi Jainesh. You can check in some of the bird books to find out what these birds eat. I rely heavily on Salim Ali's classic "The book of Indian birds" (you can buy it at BNHS, I think) but there are others available too.
    For the fruit-eaters like the parakeets, you can provide seasonal fruits. In my garden they particularly enjoy custard apple, green cashewnuts and even sunflower seeds.
    As for the seed and grain-eaters, you should get what you need at most provision stores. If not, check with the pet-shop guys. I know there used to be a few in Crawford Market but I'm not sure whether they're still there.

  72. Hello, I have kept a a bowl of water in my blcony. Infact there is a sparrowhouse and a feeder too that I have kept for about a month now. But no birds come even though I have seen sparrows, koels, magpie robins, and bulbuls. I guess, its because of my cat at home! I guess my cat scares them into coming. I keep my balcony closed too nowadays so that my cat can't disturb the birds if they do finally decide to drop by on my balcony. But none have showed up since!

  73. Aakanksha, the birds need to feel secure before they will visit and with your cat moving around that is not likely. If there isome space where your cat does not go, place a shallow bowl of water there and provide some tall plants around it sop that the birds will feel they have enough cover to escape into if necessary. This may help.

  74. loved reading all this information here

  75. Thanks for the info. But I guess my cat has permanently scared them away. i still keep a bowl of water though in the hope that they will come by! Lets wait and see.

  76. Great blog.. nice fotos...I have just started using my new camera..and spotting birds Mumbai..!
    Please see some fotos in .. and help me find names of the birds !
    Rajiv Wagh

  77. Thanks, Rajiv. There are plenty of birds in Mumbai; we just have to sit still long enough to notice them.
    I did try to visit your blog but my comments didn't go through and were not published. It must be some server error, I'll try later.

  78. Hi Sunitaji,

    I was going thru all the pics u posted. What an amazing collection ! And you are SO LUCKY that you have all these birds visiting your lawn. I see the sunbirds and coppersmith barbets here in Malad.

  79. hi i have to make a documentry on birds of mumbai ur collection wil b of gr8 help to me plz attach sum more useful links

  80. Anonymous, sorry about the delay in replying. If you want more links, take a look at some great wildlife blogs. You'll find links to them in my Blog-Roll (right at the bottom in the side-bar).
    I wish you luck with your documentary. Is it for the BNHS or some other wildlife organisation?

  81. Dazank, ALL the birds featured here are common in Mumbai. Especially in the areas with a few more trees. They also seem to prefer quieter localities. I'm sure you'll find the Magpie-Robin and Mynahs there too, right?

  82. Most of them visit my garden too!!!!!!

  83. Most of them visit my garden too!!!
    Can't find the babbler though.....
    And I feel that those birds were Pariah Kites alright.... not Tawny Eagles..

    1. Yes, they are Pariah Kites. I'm told that they are now called Black Kites but I dont think that is a good name for them. Well, they're brown, after all, not black!

  84. It is wonderful the many birds visiting your garden and you the Tusitala you are, telling us their stories. Thoroughly enjoyed pictures and words. I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year.

    1. And a wonderful Christmas and New Year to you too, Trudi!
      Tusitala ... I love that name . Maybe I should make it my pen-name too ;D
      So glad you enjoyed this post, Trudi.

  85. wonderful collection!!!!!super like!!!!:)
    keep posting

  86. Hey! I've been using your wonderful blog to identify the birds I see from my window. I wish I had a garden as lovely as yours, all I have is a lonely mango tree. Although that seems to attract a fair share of birds as well as insects. So far I've spotted parakeets ( they come in plenty), plenty of crows and pigeons, a common raven, a black kite, a purple rumpled sunbird and just this morning a golden oriole. I've never managed to pull my camera out in time to capture any of them in photographs before, but this time I was in luck. I thought I'd attach the photo, but its not possible.

    Anyway thank you soo much for serving as my little bird-watcher encyclopaedia and for inspiring me to document the birds I see.

    1. Great! I'm so happy that this post has been of use to you. And that mango tree of yours must be quite a busy one. Birds love big trees like the mango tree. Plenty of shelter for nest and lots of food, both for the fruit-lovers and the insect-loving birds.And that's quite a list that you have there!

  87. What an amazing list!! I have never seen a weaver bird and never shot a Paradise Flycatcher... to have these many bids visiting you is absolutely amazing :) Waiting to see more pictures!!

    1. It's the trees that draw them here, IHM :)
      I'm very partial to the Paradise Flycatcher. It's so beautiful! Unfortunately, it's also very difficult to shoot. I haven't got a clear shot of one yet. So you are not alone :P

  88. Just curious to know if we've Indian Rollers and Shama in Mumbai.

    1. Shama, yes, but I'm not sure about the Indian Roller. At least, I've not seen them in my garden yet.
      There are some excellent groups on Facebook about Birds in Mumbai. Maybe you could check with them?

  89. Very engaging compilation - thanks a lot.

    - A grateful Joe

  90. I loved your post just perfect for beginners like me ,I was trying to identify a pair of yellow birds that were sighted near my place and now I know for sure that they were The Golden Oriole :) Thanks

    1. I'm so glad it helped you, Anita. I just realised that I need to update the photos here. Will do that soon :)

  91. Loved this post as I see most of these birds on the trees outside my bedroom window in Santacruz (W),Mumbai.The Magpie visits my window grill to quench its thirst after I have watered the plants. Thank you for helping me in identifying the 'black and white bird' ! There is a jamun tree where the Sunbird builds its nest and the Bulbul feasts on the seeds/flowers of the curryleaf plant. There is a huge Rain tree which help in my bird watching but have never taken pictures. Last year I even spotted the Kingfisher.

    1. It sounds like a wonderful space that you have there! Both Jamun trees and Rain Trees ... no wonder you have so many birds around. Do get hold of a camera and start clicking them. It's such fun! You dont need a fancy one ( I started with a regular point-and-shoot camera) but one with a longer zoom will definitely help you to get clearer pics.


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