As nature takes over during this lockdown period, House Sparrows, Common Mynahs and Rose-ringed Parakeets can be heard more often than before. While they enjoy popularity, it is the several others which are being spotted in the city, which makes it an ideal time for bird watching. From the easily recognisable yet briefly absent Asian Koel to the beautiful Red-whiskered Bulbul, gazing out of windows has never been more fun for Mumbaikars. “More than 350 bird species have been observed in the larger Mumbai region over time. They can be seen from windows and balconies at least up to seven-eight floors high,” says city-based ecologist Sunjoy Monga.
However, birding or bird watching as it is more commonly called can be a daunting task as it is not only about recognising them by colour but firstly spotting them to start with. “If one is familiar with well-known birds like the house crow, common pigeon, myna, parakeet, then you are already a part-time bird watcher,” adds Monga. Interestingly, while these come to your window, it is the other avian species which may make you work to spot them. “Early mornings are a good time to observe birds and due to lockdown with no traffic on the roads, they are very active,” says Neeraj Chawla, city-based architect and wildlife photographer, adding that if watchers pay attention to the direction and source of their call, it becomes easier.
Getting to know them
Apart from usual suspects some of the other birds to look out for are the Asian Koel, Common Tailorbird, Sunbird, Coppersmith Barbet, Golden Oriole, Red-vented Bulbul, White Spotted Fantail, and White-throated Kingfishers during the morning and evening. Kandivali-based Chawla, who has been taking pictures for over two decades now, adds, “It is breeding season for many birds species right now and is a good time to observe their behaviour and making of nests. The Black-crowned Night herons are nesting on the tree near me.” Adding to the list, Monga says to keep an eye out for the Red-whiskered Bulbul, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Oriental magpie-robin, Alexandrine parakeet, Black kite, Large-billed crow.
While you don’t have to be birding to take care of birds, the activity goes beyond observing and has a great responsibility. Providing them with a pot of water outside windows is the easiest way to help birds, as the summer is picking up and finding water is difficult for small birds in the city.
Keep a field guide, binoculars, camera and notepad handy
Keep an eye out for size, colour, type of bill/beak, tail, eye colour and plumage
Keep an eye out for any bird call you haven’t heard before
Put bird-feeders, nest boxes and water during summers