Sunday, March 9, 2014

Birding the Extraordinary: Babblers and Bulbuls; Munias and Prinias and more ...

[India, Winter 2013]

Here's an assortment of passerines including babblers, bulbuls, munias, prinias, pipits & wagtails and others. Given the considerable breadth of the avian spectrum covered herein, only a short introduction to each family or species will be offered instead of a full study.

First the Prinias
  • Ashy Prinia
  • Plain Prinia
Prinias are a genus of 2 dozen Old World warblers named after the Japanese prinya (the local name for the Bar-winged Prinia).

 Ashy Prinia seen in Haryana


Ashy Prinia (above) is a common near endemic of the subcontinent -- the male has an ashy head and dark red eyes.


The Plain Prinia is ... (aptly) rather plain...:

Plain Prinia seen in Haryana

Munias are a genus of 40 finches belonging to the Old World; profiled here are 3 of them; one of which -- the Scaly-breasted -- is also found (as an introduced exotic) in California and Puerto Rico where it is known as the Nutmeg Mannikin:
  • Scaly-breasted Munia
  • White-rumped Munia
  • Indian Silverbill (aka White-throated Munia)
Scaly-breasted Munia seen at Carambolim Lake, Goa


Joyous relief accompanies the observation of a species whose naming is obvious from its looks -- in this case, no superior identification skills are required to discern any cryptic visual subtleties; indeed, the "scaly breast" on this munia is perhaps the first attribute to be noticed.


The next munia is the White-Rumped Munia -- it was observed near Morjim Beach, Goa. At this angle, the white rump is clearly visible:


White-rumped Munia seen at Morjim Beach
 
The Indian Silverbill is another munia that is found in the subcontinent as well as parts of the Middle East. Introduced populations also exist in Puerto Rico, Nice (France) and elswhere.

Indian Silverbill seen in Rajasthan

Indian Silverbill

Bulbuls are a large family of 130 species found in Africa and Asia. The latest addition to this family comes from 2009 when the Bare-faced Bulbul was discovered in Laos (read article here). The word "bulbul" comes to us from the Persian for "nightingale" and is reflective of the musical vocalizations of these distinctive birds. Profiled here are 5 of the 22 species found in India:
  • White-eared Bulbul
  • Red-vented Bulbul
  • Yellow-browed Bulbul
  • White-browed Bulbul
  • Flame-throated Bulbul
The White-eared Bulbul has an entirely black head and face except for the prominent white cheeks; since "White-cheeked Bulbul" was already taken, this becomes the "White-eared Bulbul".

White-eared Bulbul seen near Sambhar Lake, Rajasthan


The Red-vented Bulbul is similar except it has an entirely black face and a prominent red vent.


Next, 3 endemic bulbuls: the Yellow-browed:

Yellow-browed Bulbul seen at Goa


The white-browed:

White-browed Bulbul seen at Goa


... and the Flame-throated Bulbul:



The babblers comprise a huge family of 310 species [some with disputed taxonomic status and placement] with India hosting a third of that number of which only 4 species will be shown here:
  • Large Grey Babbler
  • Jungle Babbler
  • Dark-fronted Babbler
  • Puff-throated babbler

The Large Grey Babbler, unsurprisingly, looks like a large grey babbler.

Large Grey Babbler seen in Haryana

Jungle Babbler seen at World Forest Arboretum, Rajasthan

Jungle Babblers are an abundant bird in the subcontinent; gregarious and noisy, they have an "Angry Bird" look to them.

Dark-fronted Babbler (a near endemic) seen in Goa:

And Puff-throated Babbler:

Puff-throated Babbler seen in Goa

There are 40 pipits and a dozen wagtails in the family Motacillidae of which the following were observed in India:


Pipits & Wagtails
  • Blythe's Pipit
  • Richard's Pipit
  • Paddyfield Pipit
  • Tree Pipit
  • Rosy Pipit
  • Citrine Wagtail
  • Yellow Wagtail
  • Grey Wagtail
  • White Wagtail
  • White-browed Wagtail


Blythe's Pipit seen in Haryana

Richard's Pipit seen in Goa

Richard's Pipit seen at Morjim Beach, Goa

Paddyfield Pipit seen in Haryana

Tree Pipit seen in Goa


Rosy Pipit seen in Haryana

Now over to the Wagtails

Citrine Wagtail seen in Haryana

Citrine Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail seen in Rajasthan

Grey wagtail seen in Rajasthan -- note the dull pinkish legs

Grey Wagtail


White Wagtail seen in Rajasthan

White Wagtail seen in Haryana

White-browed Wagtail is stockier and larger than the others:

White-browed Wagtail seen at Chambal

White-browed Wagtail seen at Chandlai, Rajasthan

And now for the rest:

Wire-tailed Swallow

Wire-tailed Swallow seen in Goa

Asian Koel seen at Gir National Park, Gujarat


Common Tailorbird seen in Gujarat

Any bird with a name like Zitting Cisticola deserves respect:

Zitting Cisticola seen in Haryana


Black-breasted Weaver; a beautiful endemic, seen in Haryana

Crested Lark in Haryana

Crested Lark seen in Haryana

Malabar Crested Lark; an endemic; seen in Goa

Common Chiffchaff seen in Haryana

Indian Roller seen in Goa


Lesser Whitethroat

Indian Blackbird; considered by some to be deserving of full-species status


Indian Golden Oriole; recently separated from Eurasian Golden Oriole

Cinerous Tit seen in Rajasthan


Cinerous Tit seen in Rajasthan (earlier considered conspecific with the Great Tit)

 
Greenish (Leaf) Warbler seen in Goa

Greenish (Leaf) Warbler seen in Goa


Brown-cheeked Fulvetta seen in Goa

Brown-cheeked Fulvetta seen in Goa

White-throated Thrush; an endemic; seen in Goa

White-throated Thrush; an endemic; seen in Goa


Orange Minivet (female) an endemic; seen in Goa

Orange Minivet (male) an endemic; seen in Goa


Pale-billed Flowerpecker seen in Goa

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch; an exquisite nuthatch seen in Goa


Velvet-fronted Nuthatch

This post has probably covered more avian families than any other in this blog; and, hopefully will serve as inspiration to those birder who seek to go beyond the familiar

1 comment:

  1. Very inspirational, indeed. I also found it interesting that even "the locals" in Laos didn't recognize the Bare-faced Bulbul when it shown to them. Your wonderful work continues, Hemant!

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