Meet your feathered neighbours

Meet your feathered neighbours

If you thought that Delhi has already turned into a concrete jungle and there are no birds to be spotted here other than the ubiquitous pigeons and crows, look around you once more.

 With winter having firmly set in, there are many beautiful resident birds to be discovered in the city. Gardens and parks here, besides Delhi’s sole sanctuary – Asola Bhatti – is almost teeming with birds. Take out your binoculars and start spotting!

We start with the easy-to-find brown-bodied and yellow-beaked Mynahs. Their shrill calls and mimicry skills make them famous too, though bird watcher Ranjit Lal jokes, “They should be made the State Bird of Delhi as they are exactly like Delhiites. Always ready to pick up a fight.” The Bulbuls – both Red Whiskered and Red Vented - share a similar reputation. Many a duels can be seen atop trees on lazy afternoons. 

Babblers are the jokers among Delhi’s birds. The rust-colour birds, which look exactly like the ones in animation game Angry Birds, are actually quite inquisitive and funny. “You can often see them staring at mirrors of motorcycles, examining themselves from every possible angle. They are also quite social as they always move around in groups, cuddling together in winters, the reason they are also called Seven Sisters,” informs Ranjit. 

Baboonias, also known as the Oriental White Eye, are to be seen commonly in the Northern and Central Ridge area. They are pretty yellow-coloured birds with white rims around their eyes making them look they are wearing spectacles. “Hoopoe is another interesting bird to spot with its long sharp beak, a ‘slick’ crown and zebra-like striped feathers. Its name comes from its call which goes like ‘Hoop, hoop,’” says photographer Ramit Mitra.

Next we come to the much-loved parakeets (not parrots!) which live across gardens and monuments of Delhi. You can often spot them flying overhead in droves, camouflaging in dark green trees or hiding in the nooks and crannies of a Humayun’s tomb or Qutab Minar. They are always in pairs, never alone. The homely sparrows, which had disappeared in the last few years, also seem to be making a comeback, probably due to conservation efforts.

Do not miss the Kites swirling above Firozeshah Kotla. A cousin of eagles which are not common in Delhi, they feed on smaller species of their tribe. Owlettes and Barn owls, on the other hand, are sweet little misunderstood creatures, which only rid Delhi of its voracious rats. “The brown owlettes with white spots have become common in cities while the larger Barn Owls with heart-shaped faces restrict themselves to forests,” says Ranjit.

Peacocks, once abundant in the city, may have dwindled in numbers, but some can still be spotted in Lodhi Gardens, the precincts of India International Centre and India Habitat Centre. Their dance in monsoons, of course, is worth enjoying. 
Some more exquisite varieties like the Weaver bird and Common Tailor Bird, which put together beautiful nests, can be seen in Asola. If you are lucky, you may just also find a Kingfisher on the lake side.   

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