Tag Archive: behaviour


The Hoopoe, Valley School, 110514

The

HOOPOE

was called the “Common Hoopoe”, but alas, it is no longer that common a bird. However, we are lucky enough to be able to see them once in a while, in the outskirts of Bangalore. This morning, as 15 of us went to see what we could in the Valley School area, this beautiful bird was the last sighting before we left…a fitting finale to a very enjoyable morning.

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The scientific name of the bird(Upupa epops), like the English name is an onomatopoeic form which imitates the cry of the bird.

This colourful bird is found across Afro-Eurasia,, and the Madagascar subspecies of the Hoopoe is sometimes elevated to a full species.

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The call is typically a trisyllabic oop-oop-oop, which gives rise to its English and scientific names, although two and four syllables are also common.

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Most European and north Asian birds migrate to the tropics in winter. The African populations are sedentary year-round.

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The Hoopoe has two basic requirements in its habitat; bare or lightly vegetated ground on which to forage and vertical surfaces with cavities (such as trees, cliffs or even walls, nestboxes, haystacks, and abandoned burrows) in which to nest.

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The diet of the Hoopoe is mostly composed of insects, although small reptiles, frogs and plant matter such as seeds and berries are sometimes taken as well. It is a solitary forager which typically feeds on the ground.

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The diet of the Hoopoe includes many species considered to be pests by humans; for example the pupae of the processionary moth, a damaging forest pest.

Hoopoes are distinctive birds and have made a cultural impact over much of their range. They were considered sacred in Ancient Egypt, so they were “depicted on the walls of tombs and temples”. They achieved a similar standing in Minoan Crete. Theywere seen as a symbol of virtue in Persia. They were thought of as thieves across much of Europe and harbingers of war in Scandinavia. Also, in Estonian tradition the Hoopoes are strongly connected with death and the underworld, their song is seen as a forebode of death for many a people or cattle.The Hoopoe is the king of the birds in the Ancient Greek comedy The Birds by Aristophanes.

…and….The Hoopoe was chosen as the national bird of Israel in May 2008!

When we found that this bird, which has lived amongst humans for so long, was not at all disturbed by our presence, we slowly, and carefully, fanned around it, without disturbing its foraging behaviour. I took this video to show how, sometimes, a group can photograph a bird from fairly close range, without alarming or disturbing it.

We bade goodbye as as it walked along peacefully in the sunshine:

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A little later, off it flew…and we walked on with great satisfaction at having seen, and observed, this bird for a good while!

click here

for my FB album

Lion-tailed Macaques, Valparai, 18-200414

On Good Friday, Anjali, Gopal, Rohan, Tharangini, Yeshoda and I went to

Valparai

in the aNNAmalai range (Coimbatore district) in Tamil Nadu.

The

LION-TAILED MACAQUE

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was one of the several creatures we hoped to see on our trip to Valparai. The lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus), or the wanderoo, is an Old World monkey endemic to the Western Ghats of South India.

The hair of the lion-tailed macaque is black. Its outstanding characteristic is the silver-white mane which surrounds the head from the cheeks down to its chin, which gives this monkey its German name Bartaffe – “beard ape”

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it lives in hierarchical groups of usually 10 to 20 animals, which consist of few males and many females. It is a territorial animal, defending its area first with loud cries towards the invading troops.

It primarily eats indigenous fruits, leaves, buds, insects and small vertebrates in virgin forest, but can adapt to rapid environmental change in areas of massive selective logging through behavioural modifications and broadening of food choices to include fruits, seeds, shoots, pith, flowers, cones, mesocarp, and other parts of many nonindigenous and pioneer plants.

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The lion-tailed macaque ranks among the rarest and most threatened primates. Their range has become increasingly isolated and fragmented by the spread of agriculture and tea, coffee, teak and cinchona, construction of water reservoirs for irrigation and power generation, and human settlements to support such activities. They did not, in the past live, feed or travel through plantations, but this behaviour has changed.

Destruction of their habitat and their avoidance of human proximity have led to the drastic decrease of their population.

Here’s one swinging about on the wire:

It then proceeds to lick the raindrops off the leaves of the plant:

I loved watching this mother and child:

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Gestation is approximately six months. The young are nursed for one year. Sexual maturity is reached at four years for females, and six years for males. The life expectancy in the wild is approximately 20 years

Here’s a small, funny incident as a macaque jumps up as something bothers it, and starts running away:

Here’s one eating the seeds from the seed pod of the Spathodea (African Tulip), which is an exotic tree:

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I took a little more…

This troop of Macaques did forage and travel through the coffee plantation. They did not disturb us, and we did not disturb them.

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Here are a group, enjoying themselves (yes, that’s what I feel!) in the evening:

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Having gone thrice to the zoo area in the course of a week, I was able to see the camp elephants being brought back from their foraging trips in the periphery of the Bannerghatta forest area.

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I must say, I am very impressed with the health of these camp elephants, and their excellent relationships with their mahouts.

They are fed large balls of rAgi (a kind of millet that Karnataka is famous for…Kannadigas love rAgi muddhE, small balls of rAgi flour, with sAmbhAr), every day, and are given enough fodder, too.

As they come back towards the Kingfisher Pond, they seem to love having dust baths. Here are the females, lying down in the dust:

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They are helped by their mahouts…the second one is just about settling down!

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Look at the little one nuzzling up!

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The amount of dust that a female human being would instantly set about cleaning, seems welcome to a female elephant!

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A young one comes along curiously (she’s called Roopa):

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There’s work to be done…this wood has to be carried inside the zoo, but neither youngster is doing to do that (just like humans!)

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The little one, indeed, roots along happily:

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They start walking towards the rear entrance of the zoo:

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Here’s a short video of their gait:

It’s left to the adults to bring the baled wood:

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The elephant’s trunk and mouth are such amazing things!

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Obediently, El Nino follows his mother and aunts:

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Now, it is the turn of the tusker (in India, only male elephants have tusks) to come and settle down:

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Not an appealing sight, the rear of an elephant? I found it quite interesting…

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Because, as the mahout dusted him down, I saw a part of an elephant I’ve never seen before (no, not THAT, you dirty-minded lot!)

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The soles of an elephant’s feet!

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This tusker is called “Vanaraja” (King of the Forest):

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After his dust bath, he headed in the opposite direction, back into the forest periphery:

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Here’s the tusker getting up:

We watched him as he swayed off, majestically:

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After being brought back into the Zoo, they seemed to be very happy in their enclosure:

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Throwing dust over themselves, or dusty stuff, seems to be a way of relaxing:

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The unnamed baby was especially happy, lolling about in the fodder:

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In Sundghatta, we stopped the car to watch a few birds, and as usual, these beautiful little

PURPLE-RUMPED SUNBIRDS

caught our attention as they flitted to and fro on the Calatropis bushes.

Here’s the lady…

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and the gentleman….

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The Purple-rumped Sunbird(Leptocoma zeylonica) are endemic to the Indian Subcontinent. They usually feed on nectar from flowers, but can sometimes eat insects. Purple-rumped Sunbirds are tiny at less than 10 cm long. they have medium-length thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, both adaptations to their nectar feeding.I don’t know how they can eat insects with that!When the flowers are too deep to probe, they sometimes pierce the base of the flower and rob the nectar.

Their hanging pouch nests are made up of cobwebs, lichens and plant material. Imagine, collecting cobwebs and making nests out of that!

Male sunbirds can be very aggressive towards what they perceive to be rivalry.

here

is my post (July 23, 2010) about the way a male Sunbird attacked his own reflection, at JLR Bandipur, believing it to be a rival!

Some bird behaviour, Nandi Hills, 070214

Our visit to Nandi Hills provided me a great opportunity to watch several birds’ behaviour. I found that several birds, such as the Orange-throated Thrush, or this

PUFF-THROATED BABBLER

forage amongst the dead leaves, turning them over to get at the insects:

Birds such as the

NILGIRI WOOD PIGEON

are more shy and keep to the tree canopy:

Other birds forage along the pathways. I’d never previously seen a

TICKELL’S BLUE FLYCATCHER

do the same thing. He only flew away when some visitors approached too close, and was not disturbed by our prescence at all.

It’s wonderful to be able to spend a little time, watching these beauties and not have to rush off. so..it was a productive, enjoyable morning at Nandi Hills.

The Black Ibis

Here

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is the Wiki entry for the

BLACK IBIS:

“The Red-naped Ibis (Pseudibis papillosa) also known as the Indian Black Ibis or just the Black Ibis, is a species of ibis found in parts of the Indian Subcontinent. The sexes are alike. It has a curlew-like long down-curved bill, a black head with a patch of crimson, and a white patch near the shoulder. This largish black bird is found at lakes, in marshes, in riverbeds and on irrigated farmland—it is not as aquatic as many other species of ibis. It is gregarious and generally forages on margins of wetlands in small numbers. It is a common breeding resident in Haryana. It nests in trees and breeds from March to October in North India.”

I was very fortunate, indeed, to stay with a friend who as a 5-acre plot of land in Ahmedabad; part of her undeveloped property is maintained as a lawn, part of it is a wilderness, and part of it is given over to growing wheat and vegetables. I had a lovely view from my bedroom window, and was lucky enough to watch these beautiful birds….they were sitting on the neighbouring buildings:

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Grazing on the lawn:

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Resting, relaxed and unthreatened, with one leg up:

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and in particular, one mother and child, on the vegetable patch.

Here’s the Ibis chick, obviously calling, “Mama!Mama!”….

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The chick is importuning its mother:

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It is running behind the mother:

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And, finally, the mother feeds it:

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I got this video of the child running around behind the mother and harassing her for food:

Children are always demanding attention, whether
Or not, they happen to have skin…or feathers!

The Indian Silverbill, 011113

When you’ve been fasting, you tend to break your fast…and overdo it! I’d not seen anything of Indian birds for a longish time now, and when we went to

Muthur

to help my friend Shangon celebrate the life of her husband, who passed away in 2005, I just walked around the school building while the speeches were going on.

Just behind the toilets,a barbed wire fence separated the High School property from a field of millet; and there, I was delighted to find a group of

INDIAN SILVERBILLs

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alternately foraging on the ground,

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and sitting on the fence, or the telephone wires.

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So I just clicked away happily!

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The Indian Silverbill or White-throated Munia (Lonchura malabarica), the Wiki says, is a small passerine (sparrow-like) bird, which forages in flocks in in grassland and scrub habitats….and in several villages!

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They are

Estrildid finches which means they are included in the genus “Lonchura”, and are called weaver-finches.

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They are found in flocks of as many as 60 birds.

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They feed on the ground or on low shrubs and grass stalks. They constantly utter a low cheeping or chirping contact call as they forage. They visit water and drink with a rapid sip and swallow action.

It feeds mainly on seeds, but also takes insects and has been known to visit nectar bearing flowers, such as those of Erythrina trees

The breeding season is spread out and varies with region. They nest in winter in southern India and after summer in northern India. They nest, an untidy ball of grasses with an opening on the side, is placed in low shrubs, often on thorny Acacia and are known to make use of the old nests of Baya Weaver sometimes even visiting those that are occupied by the weaver birds. They will sometimes build their nest below the platform nests of vultures or storks!

Here the beak structure, suited to the cracking and eating of seeds, can be clearly seen:

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The clutch varies from 4 to 8 white eggs and these are incubated by both parents for about 11 days. Helpers may be involved in breeding as more than a pair are sometimes seen at a nest.
It’s a pity I couldn’t see any nests nearby!

I even took this ideo showing one bird foraging:

The Indian Silverbill brought me back to Indian birding, and what a delightful start it was!

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Once upon a flame…

Every friend who’s gone with me on the UGS (Usual Gang of Suspects) nature trails this year, has enjoyed the sight of the Pakshi Darshini (Eatery for birds)…

click here

for the short photo-feature on Citizen Matters.

Not just flying the flag…

On Independence Day, I found that almost every auto had a Tiranga flying:

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But surely, pride in one’s country should not just be a matter of flying a flag for one day. If, after flying the flag, I spit (and urinate and defacate) on the roads, cheat my customers, want (and pay) bribes, try to get ahead at the cost of my fellow-citizens, and am rude to people…am I really showing my pride for my country, or my contempt for it? Dhould my love for my country not show itself in a constant attempt to keep it clean, observe its laws, and respect its citizens?

Here’s the decoration at the Bangalore Club.

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In this Club, they won’t let men (this restriction is only for men..as illogical as can be!) into the main dining hall without shoes and a shirt or a tee shirt with a collar (no sandals or “sports shoes”!)…and does not allow men into the next-door restaurant if their “sports shoes” are not made of leather. Which century are they living in?

When we take pride in enforcing such idiotic laws…are we proud of being Indian?

Rage….

At 8.30 pm on the 4th of April, I took the BIAS Vayu Vajra  (BIAS 12, to KuVemPu Nagara)nfrom the airport to my home.

On the way, a group of four  passengers got on,and asked for tickets. They paid Rs. 60( four tickets of Rs.15 each) , and the conductor said that the tickets would cost Rs.20 each. The young man who was one of the group protested, saying that he had taken the Volvo yesterday and had paid only Rs.15, and he would not pay the higher amount.

The conductor insisted that the amount was correct. The passenger demanded that the conductor show him the chart; if the amount was correct, he said, he would pay the difference.

The conductor refused to show him the chart and asked the group to get off the bus. The passenger, getting increasingly vociferous, said he would not get off without taking a look at the chart.

Within minutes, the young man and the conductor were involved in violent fisticuffs. The driver halted the bus, and came back to intervene. One of the ladies in the group also pulled the young man off the brawl, and the group got off the bus, with invective and bad feeling flying around.

I cannot imagine  that the conductor of a Vayu Vajra bus would demand excess fare; after all, he was going to give the ticket to the value of Rs.20, not for Rs.15.

A few passengers said that perhaps the previous day, the young man had, indeed, taken a Volvo, but it might not have been the Vayu Vajra bus, which does have a higer fare. This seems to me to be the likely explanation.

But in this case, why did the conductor not just show the young man the chart, and prove that he was mistaken? That would have defused the situation instead of escalating it into physical violence, which is what transpired.

Why are our tempers so short, that we need to indulge in violence almost immediately? Why does rage prevail instead of more mature behaviour?

Why are we so ready to assume that the other person is out to cheat us? Why can’t we assume goodwill, or at least an honest mistake, and try to sort out the situation, instead of indulging in confrontation, anger and violent behaviour?

No wonder, both bus passengers and bus staff are a harried lot at the end of the day…..

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