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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Avian Joy from Jaipur: Greater Painted Snipe, Oriental White-eye and Greater Flamingo

[Hotpspots in the Jaipur Area. June 2016]

Rajasthan is the Arizona of India -- an arid state in the Western part of the country that, like Arizona, has some remarkable birdlife. In this post, we explore some of the species that can be seen within the vicinity of the state capital of Rajasthan -- namely, the city of Jaipur (named for Maharaja Jaisingh).

While none of the species presented here are either uncommon or unusual, they nevertheless represent an eclectic mix of passerines, shorebirds and waterfowl that can be found in a suburban (in Jaipur) or countryside setting (in Chandlai; about 45 minutes from Jaipur):

  • Oriental White-eye
  • Purple Sunbird
  • Common Tailorbird
  • Ashy Prinia
  • Rose-ringed Parakeet
  • Bank Myna
  • Crested Lark
  • Greater Painted Snipe
  • Black-winged Stilt
  • Common Sandpiper
  • Little Ringed Plover
  • Greater Flamingo
  • Little Grebe
  • Spot-billed Duck
  • Lesser Whistling Duck
We start with the White-eye that was observed in Jaipur:

"The eyes have it!" -- one look at this striking songbird and it is clear that this species deserves no other name.

This tiny, beautiful bird has one of the most distinctive eyerings of any bird on this planet and ranges from South to Southeast Asia. We would be hard pressed to think of any species in the US that has as bold a look. Note that our White-eye is the White-eyed Vireo -- named for the color of its iris not its eyering.

Sunbirds are the Old World equivalents of Hummingbirds. They are tiny, iridescent, and subsist on nectar and insects. Unlike hummers, they can be vocal and accomplished songsters. The Purple Sunbird is a common sight in Northern India:

The female is, predictably, duller:

The Sunbird was observed in both Jaipur and Chandlai.

Over to warblers -- two Cisticola warblers were observed: Common Tailorbird and Ashy Prinia:

Like our Ovenbird, the Tailorbird is named on account of its nest -- in this case, how it is put (or "sewn") together vs. what it resembles (an "oven").  

While the Ashy Prinia is not as colorful, it is an equally loud songster:

Rose-ringed Parakeet are an introduced species in the US and other parts of the world -- they are, however, native to Asia and Africa:

Bank Myna, like Ashy Prinia, is endemic to the subcontinent:

It is named for the "banks" in which it digs nesting cavities for breeding -- in addition to river banks, they will also use holes in brick walls for nesting.
Crested Lark:

Befitting  a species that ranges in Europe, Africa and Asia, the Crested Lark is known to consist of 37 subspecies. It is a ground nester and was seen in Chandlai.

Over to shorebirds (all observed at Chandlai), the star species here was Greater Painted Snipe:

Despite its name, Greater Painted Snipe is not a true snipe. Looking at the pair above, the observer would not be faulted for assuming the male is the bird on the right given the brighter colors and bolder patterns. But the Greater Painted Snipe is full of surprises -- the sex roles are reversed in this species (like Phalaropes) -- the female is larger, more colorful and mates with many males.

The female will court males and the latter are responsible for incubation and raising the young. A resounding (yet rare) example of female dominance in the Avian world.

Resembling our Black-necked Stilt is the Black-winged Stilt:

And, Common Sandpiper is a bit larger but otherwise doesn't seem to be too different from Spotted Sandpiper:

They smallest shorebird, however, was Little Ringed Plover:

This tiny shorebird is less than 6inches -- a veritable dwarf compared to Greater Flamingo:

We conclude with a few waterfowl:
Little Grebe:

Spot-billed Duck:

and, Lesser Whistling Duck:

The Old World opens up new avian vistas for the intrepid birder -- from striking White-eyes to shiny Sunbirds and the unique Greater Painted Snipe. And in Rajasthan, India's Arizona, a wealth of species is on-hand and easily accessible from in and around the capital city of Jaipur.



Bob Pelkey said...

Well done, Hemant. I thought Uplands Sandpiper seen recently north of the Everglades had oversized eyes too.

France Paulsen said...

Beautiful species Hemant, thanks for sharing this part of the world.