Agricultural Birds /Grassland Birds

The birds that live in farmland and grassland areas are important in many ways to us. Many of them, like the insect eating birds like Black Drongo, Small Green Bee-eaters help the farmers by controlling the pests. The following thirteen birds are selected for the serious observation.

1. Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus

Baya Weaver

Baya Weaver

Baya Weaver bird is a small, round, sparrow-like bird with large, conical bill, and have brownish-buff upper-parts, boldly streaked with dark brown, and buff to pale yellowish underparts and show sparse streaking on sides of breast and flanks and heavily streaked crown. Adult bird in breeding season has yellow crown and dark brown earcoverts and throat. It has un-streaked yellow breast and dark streaked yellow head and bill is dark blackish brown. A typical weaver and builds a retort-shaped nest with a long vertical entrance tube hanging from a tip of a branch of an isolated tree. They build nests by using strips of rice grass, plantain leaf, and coir or coconut fronds. The construction of the nest is just like a pendant loop to form skeleton of the structure. Porches are built in the upper part on each side, and later developed and broadened into the egg-chambers and entrance tube. Henceforth the female occupies herself with making the interior of the nest to her liking whilst the male completes the entrance tunnel. They normally lay two eggs. It is commonly seen in cultivations and paddy fields.

2. Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri

Rose-ringed Parakeet

Rose-ringed Parakeet

Parakeets are the long tailed parrots we see in our place. Stout hooked bill with the upper mandible strongly curved and overlapping the lower mandible are characteristic to them. Rose-ringed Parakeets have grassy green feathers with long graduated tail and red bill. Male has black chin stripe joining with pink hind collar and female lacks the chin stripe and collar, and is all green in color. Roseringed parakeet is found in gardens, groves, and villages, and around human habitation.

3. Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis

Spotted Dove

Spotted Dove

Spotted Dove is a pinkish brown bird, having white spots on neck with a conspicuous black and white ‘chess board’ at base of hind-neck, darker grey brown rump and tail with blackish outer tail feathers. They are found in pairs or small parties and assemble in fields, gardens, and in open forests. It has a flight with a peculiar jerky action of gliding and abrupt brake with wing and outspread tail. It mostly feed on grains of paddy cereals, lentils, pulses, grass and weeds.

4. Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus

Indian Peafowl

Indian Peafowl

Peacock, our National Bird, has glossy blue crown, neck, upper mantle and breast, metallic green lower mantle and back, and spectacular glossy green train. Train comprises numerous elongated upper-tail coverts with blue-centered green and copper ocelli. Peahen lacks sweeping train and has fan-like crest, whitish face and throat, chestnutbrown crown and hind-neck, metallic green upper breast and mantle, white belly, and brown back, rump and tail. It is gregarious everywhere, keeping in small flocks of usually one cock and three to five hens during breeding season. It is highly protected for religious or any other reason in many parts of India. Peafowls eat insects, worms and live in shrublands, villages and cultivation. Peafowls feed and nest on ground, but roost in trees at night.

5. Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus

Black Drongo

Black Drongo

Black Drongos are aggressive medium sized birds with black and glossy feather with long deeply forked tail. They have very small white spot near to the base of their bill and this helps to identify Black Drongo from other drongos. They are found singly or in pairs. Sometimes, they gather as flocks during winter season. They usually perch on leafless treetop, telegraph wires, fence posts or earthen bunds separating fields. It is also seen riding on the back of grazing cattle or wild herbivores and snatch the insects disturbed by the animals. Often hunt insects even after dusk and makes frequent visit to catch insects in mid air. They fearlessly attack crows and raptors.

6. Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Egrets are the white larger birds we see with long legs for wading and to walk in water bodies. It has a slender body and long head and neck; fly with leisurely flap, with the legs outstretched and projecting beyond the tail, and the head and neck always drawn back. Cattle Egret is distinct by shorter and stouter yellow bill, shorter legs and shorter and stouter necks. Their association with grazing cattle for fetching their prey brought them this name.

7. Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis

Green Bee-eater

Green Bee-eater

Bee-eaters are brightly coloured birds with long de-curved beak, pointed wings and very short legs. They feed almost entirely on flying insects, especially Honeybee forming the major diet of Bee-eaters. Their prey is caught on the wing, by making short, swift sallies like a flycatcher from an exposed perch such as a treetop, branch, posts or telephone wire. They have blue or green throat and variable golden-brown to rufous coloration in crown and nape. They have green long central tail feathers. They are commonly seen in open country with scattered trees, cultivation; on coasts, sandy areas above high-water mark. They build nest on the holes in the mud flats and near riverbank. They are communal roosters, roost communally in thick canopy trees.

8. Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus

Red-wattled Lapwing

Red-wattled Lapwing

Lapwings are small medium sized waders with round head, short neck and short bill. Red-wattled Lapwing has black crown, black throat and breast which contrast with white cheeks, sides of breast and belly. It has black-tipped red bill, red wattle, iris and eye ring, and yellow legs. In flight, it shows white wing bar and black band across tail. Keeps in pairs or small flocks. A vigilant and noisy bird, get alarmed soon and make restless calls like “did he do it….. pity to do it” while circling overhead. Walks or runs in short spurts, then stops and probes with body tilted forward. They forage during the night and in early morning and evening. Usually flies slowly and with deep flaps. Lapwings are ground-nesting birds. The nest is a circular depression scraped in the soil, and it is sometime encircled with small stones or pieces of hard clay. It lays up to four eggs.

9. Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis

Indian Roller

Indian Roller

Blue Jays are named as rollers after their habit of rolling or diving during breeding display courtships. They are strongly built, medium sized birds with large head and short neck. It has a blue crown, rufous brown nape, white streaking on ear coverts and throat. It has brownish olive green upper-parts, and turquoise deep blue wings and tail. It spends most of the day on a prominent treetop in an open area. It is quite commonly seen in cultivation, gardens, groves near villages and open deciduous forest. It feeds on large insects, crickets, beetles, flying termites, locusts, also eats lizards and small mammals. They build their nests in dead tree holes and particularly prefer palm trees, roof of houses or in compound walls.

10. Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata

Pied Bush Chat

Pied Bush Chat

These are birds often seen in grassland perching at the top of shrubs of small plants. Males are black colour with white wing patches. The female has dark brown upperparts and rufous underparts and rump, and no white wing patches. You can see them in open grassland, plantation, bushes, near cultivation grounds, majorly in rural areas, perching at the top of shrubs or small plants. The body structure and feeding habit makes it one of the accomplished birds. Their long wings and tail for excellent flying and catching the prey, and their unrestricted diet including all available insects and fruits make them successful birds in grassland ecosystem. They feed on small insects, beetles, moths, earthworms, etc. Pied Bushchats are monogamous birds i.e., they pair with same partners in breeding seasons. They love to be solitary and never seen in mixed groups of their own species.

11. Lonchura malabarica

Indian Silverbill

Silverbill male has dull brown upperparts, with scaly crown and narrow supercilium. He has white coloured lower back and rump region. The short stout conical bill is designed for seed eating. The upper mandible of the bill is dark grey to blackish and lower mandible pale bluish grey. Female Silverbill has more buff face and chest with less prominent supercilium. They move in group and feed on seeds, rice, and millet seeds from growing plants in cultivated fields. It builds nest in a large ball of coarse grasses, lined with finer grass, with a lateral entrance hole.

1ey Francolin Francolinus

Grey Francolin

Grey Francolin

Male Grey Francolins have uniform and finely patterned buff throat with spur, while female bird looks almost similar but lacks spur. They feed on seeds, cereals, grass, berries, etc. They are sedentary birds and fly only when they are forced. They lay eggs on uncovered ground. They are good runners, a special feature to escape from the predator in ground. When disturbed, they fly making strong flappings and glide to rest on ground. They roost in bushes or short plants.

13.Rosy Starling Sturnus roseus

Rosy Pastor

Rosy Pastor

Rosy Pastors are starlings or mynas with pink body, black head, neck, throat, wings and tail. During breeding season, male gets pastel pink colour in body with long and elongated nape feathers as crest and red bill to attract the female, whereas female has short crest and less shiny head. They feed on a wide variety of foods such as insects, cereals, wheat, nectar, caterpillars, snails, spiders, small fruits. They move and feed in large groups. They are hole nesters and lay 3-6 bluish eggs. Male and female participate in building the nest in the cracks and crevices of buildings or in between stones.