A delight for bird lovers

Rare sightings

Frogmouth, an evergreen species found in the southern most parts of the country and Sri Lanka, has also been sighted in good numbers in Kodagu district.

This has thrilled bird lovers, ushering in a debate on the sudden development. Some bird lovers had previously expressed concern that although this bird had been sighted in Makoota forests, there were no photographs or any concrete evidence to prove it was not just a claim.

However, now with photographic and video evidence, the existence of the bird in the region has been well established. “This year, we had more than a dozen sightings of this bird. We have records of sightings at the foothills of Pushpagiri, Brahmagiri and Makoota. We never had so many sightings earlier,” said Bopanna Pattada, a naturalist from Kodagu.

Bopanna rubbished claims that the sightings of these slow-breeding birds -- it only lays one egg twice a year -- could be the result of habitat destruction due to largescale felling in plantations and forests. He said a sizeable population of these birds had existed there for a long time and had just been discovered now.

“First thing is this bird is highly sensitive and prefers evergreen patches. Secondly, being an insectivore, it prefers to avoid plantations with a lot of pesticide and insecticide. Consuming any insect in such plantation would be fatal to this species,” he explained.
Clement Francis, a bird expert and photographer, said: “These days, many enthusiastic and adventurous bird watchers and photographers are coming out with new findings and discoveries of hidden wildlife treasures. In addition to this, this bird camouflages so well that it might be mistaken as dry leaf litter.”

However, this development, according to bird experts, could not be termed an increase in bird population because the status of the bird was neither studied nor monitored in Kodagu. Bird lovers in Kodagu are now advocating protection of this bird’s habitat.

About Ceylon frogmouth
This bird, belonging to the family of night jar, is about nine inches long, has a wide and hooked bill with slit-like nostrils, a large head and eyes facing forward. The male is grey-brown with fine barring and a spotted crown while the female is more rufous or chestnut brown.

Hardly seen during the day (except at the roosting site), they breed between January and March. Sightings of these birds is highly difficult due to its ability to camouflage. The call of the bird is also rare and can be heard only during courtship. During breeding, the birds build a nest - a pad made of moss, lichen and bark.

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