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Title: Indian Birds - Being a Key to the Common Birds of the Plains of India
Author: Dewar, Douglas
Language: English
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                             _INDIAN BIRDS_

                       _BEING A KEY TO THE COMMON
                      BIRDS OF THE PLAINS OF INDIA
                           BY DOUGLAS DEWAR_

                         _A COMPANION VOLUME TO
                        THE BIRD VOLUMES OF “THE
                       FAUNA OF BRITISH INDIA” &
                       JERDON’S “BIRDS OF INDIA”_


                       _2nd Edition_ (_Revised_)

 _The Mayflower Press, Plymouth, England._ William Brendon & Son, Ltd.


I fear that the patience of those who have been awaiting this little book
must be well-nigh exhausted, so long has it been in appearing. I began it
two years ago, but had to put it aside during the last few months spent
in India prior to taking furlough, on account of the heavy work the
threatening famine entailed; and when one is on furlough one only works
at the rare times when there is nothing better to do!

The object of this book is to enable people interested in our Indian
birds to identify at sight those they are likely to meet with in their
compounds and during their excursions into the jungle.

There are several good systematic works on Indian ornithology, but the
descriptions in these presuppose that the reader has the specimen in his
hand and is able to examine it leisurely, feather by feather. To do this
it is necessary to kill the bird in question—a procedure which causes
pain to many and gives pleasure to very few. Moreover, unless the seeker
after knowledge has some notion as to the order to which the bird he has
shot belongs, he will find that seeking it out in the four bird volumes
of the _Fauna of British India_ series is a task almost as hopeless as
that of looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Eha’s truly admirable book, entitled _The Common Birds of Bombay_, gives
the reader a vivid description of our common Indian birds as they appear
to the field naturalist; and I heartily commend this little masterpiece
to every Anglo-Indian. But even this does not enable the observer to
identify in a few seconds any bird he sees, for it is not written in the
form of a key. The present book is an attempt at a key to the everyday
birds of the plains of India, a dictionary of birds so arranged that the
budding ornithologist is able to turn up any particular bird in a few
minutes. This book is, I believe, the first of its kind that has been

The method I have adopted is to classify birds according to their habits
and outward appearance. Every bird has a colour, and most birds possess
some anatomical peculiarity, such as a crest, a long tail, long legs,
etc. Not a few have some easily recognisable habit, such as a peculiar
call or manner of flight. Thus most birds will appear in at least two of
my classes, and so should be easily identified by a process of
elimination. When the reader thinks that he has located a bird he should
turn it up in the descriptive list, which composes Part II of this book,
and this will serve to confirm or correct him in his identification.
Thus, to take a very easy example, the observer while out walking sees a
white bird with a long tail, and a black crested head. Looking through
the lists of birds under (1) those having long tails; (2) those having a
crest; (3) those mainly white, he will find that the Paradise Flycatcher
is the only bird that appears in all three lists. Its number in the
descriptive list is (57). A perusal of entry No. 57 will confirm the
diagnosis, and indicate where illustrations of the bird are to be found.

I venture to hope that this little book will enable any person to learn
in a few weeks to identify nearly all the common birds of his station.

The descriptions given in Part II of the book are short ones, and each is
an attempt to depict the bird as it looks when perched in a tree or
during flight. Sometimes the description given may appear to differ from
those given in _The Fauna of British India_, or in Jerdon’s _Birds of
India_. The reason of the apparent discrepancy is that the descriptions
of the birds in these latter books are those of the skins of dead birds,
while mine are attempts to depict the bird as he appears in the flesh.

In a few cases I have described birds from memory, and sometimes my
memory may have played me false. I shall be most grateful to anyone who
will be kind enough to point out to me any errors. One of the greatest of
the difficulties I have experienced is to know what birds to insert and
what to leave out of this book. It is a key only to the common birds of
the plains, and deals with about one-fifth of the feathered inhabitants.

I have purposely omitted the game birds from my list. These are usually
shot at sight; it is therefore not necessary for me to burden this book
with them. There is no lack of good books that enable the sportsman to
identify the birds he has shot. I may mention Marshall and Hume’s _Game
Birds of India, Burmah, and Ceylon_, with its large number of coloured
plates. This valuable work is out of print; but a copy is to be found in
almost every Indian library. Then there is Stuart Baker’s recently
published _Indian Ducks and their Allies_, which contains excellent
coloured plates of all Indian ducks. Those who cannot afford to purchase
this sumptuous work have in Finn’s _How to know the Indian Ducks_, a safe
and inexpensive guide. The same author’s _How to know the Indian Waders_,
enables the tyro to identify any dead wader. Lastly, there is Le
Messurier’s _Game, Shore, and Water Birds of India_; but this, I fear,
will be found rather technical for most people. I think I have stated
sufficiently clearly my reasons for excluding the majority of game birds
from the present work. It now remains for me to justify the other

In order to render it comparatively easy to identify any given bird, it
is necessary that the various classes shall not be too large, and the
only way of securing this desideratum is to exclude all the birds that
are not frequently met with.

Some may think that I have omitted certain species that should have been
included. In anticipation of such criticism I may say that I have done my
best to deal impartially with my feathered friends. I have served in
three provinces, viz. the United Provinces, Madras, and the Punjab, and
have spent a little time on the Bombay side, and have been largely guided
by my experience. It is, I admit, quite likely that some of the birds I
have omitted may be very common in certain localities. I shall be glad to
hear of any such with a view to adding them to a second edition should
that be called for.

I would emphasise the fact that this book is a mere key, and as such is
of necessity a collection of the dry bones of ornithology and devoid of
any literary merit. The book will lose much of its value unless it be
used in conjunction with other books, such as Jerdon’s _Birds of India_,
or the bird volumes of the _Fauna of British India_ series, to which
references are made in the case of every species mentioned. The present
work is primarily a companion to either of the above volumes.

When once the common birds have been learned, it becomes comparatively
easy to identify the uncommon ones and to assign to its proper family an
uncommon bird.

In conclusion, let me advise every one who wishes to “learn his birds” to
procure Eha’s _Common Birds of Bombay_. Most of the species dealt with
therein are common all over the plains.

Those who live in Calcutta will find Cunningham’s _Some Indian Friends
and Acquaintances_, and Finn’s _Birds of Calcutta_ very helpful.

Although I have, in the present work, indicated the distribution of the
various birds dealt with, a local list (where it exists) will be of great
assistance. The following lists have been compiled:

  Name of Locality                       Volume of   No. of page
  South Gujerat                              I       149
  North Cachar                            IX-XIII    —
  Hylakandy District, Cachar               X-XIII    —
  Gwalior                                    XI      136
  North Canara                            XI & XII   652 & 43
  Andaman and Nicobar Islands            XII & XIII  —
  Madhubani Subdivision of the            XIII-XVI   —
    Darbhanga District
  Travancore                              XV & XVI   —
  Madras                                    XVI      484
  Seistan                                   XVI      686
  Chindwin, Upper Burma                    XVIII     78 & 432
  Bhamo District, Upper Burma               XIX      —

  Name of Locality                       Volume of   No. of page
  Sind                                       I       41 & 291
  Sambhur Lake                               I       361
  Chota Nagpur                            II & III   355 & 288
  Upper Pegu                                III      1
  Mount Abu and North Gujerat           III, IV & V  437, 1, 207
  Travancore                              IV & VII   351 & 33
  Region between Mahanadi and Godaveri       V       410
  Fureedpur, E. Bengal                      VII      238
  South Konkan                               IX      1
  Deccan and South Mahratta country          IX      367
  Lucknow Civil Division                   IX & X    491, 1, 444
  Pegu                                       X       175
  Western Kandesh                            X       279
  Mauzeerabad, Mysore                        X       454
  Belgaum                                    X       435
  Manipur, Assam, Sylhet and Cachar          X       —

  Name of Locality                        Year of    No. of page
  Oudh and Kumaun                           1861     217
  Kattiawar                                 1873     397
  Dacca                                     1882     84
  Central India                             1885     52
  Bhamo, Upper Burma                        1888     70
  Calcutta District                         1894     39
  Lucknow                               1902 & 1903  470
  Southern Shan States                  1901 & 1903  525
  Kohat and Kurram                          1909     90

  Name of Locality                         Volume    No. of page
  Manipur                               LVIII, Part  235
  Southern Shan States                   LXIX, Part  102

                         TO THE SECOND EDITION

The first edition of this work was exhausted a year before I became aware
of the fact, and, as the demand appears to be brisk, I have not caused
further delay by revising the book very thoroughly.

I am under considerable obligation to Mr. G. O. Allen, I.C.S., for his
notes and suggestions. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that the list
of additions and corrections has been almost entirely compiled by him.

It is a source of great satisfaction to me to learn that this little
book, notwithstanding its shortcomings, has enabled many people to learn
the names of the common birds that live around them.

                                                               D. DEWAR.

  Ghazipur, U.P., India,


  Preface                                                               5
  Preface to Second Edition                                            14

                                  PART I
  A. Hindustani Names of Common Birds                                  19
  B. Classification According to Structural Peculiarities              23
      I. Bills                                                         23
      II. Crest                                                        24
      III. Legs                                                        25
      IV. Tail                                                         26
      V. Sexual Dimorphism                                             29
  C. Classification According to Colour                                31
      I. Black                                                         32
      II. Blue                                                         42
      III. Brown                                                       44
      IV. Coffee or Fawn Colour                                        52
      V. Green                                                         53
      VI. Grey                                                         54
      VII. Pink                                                        56
      VIII. Red                                                        57
      IX. White                                                        61
      X. Yellow                                                        65
      XI. Birds of Many Colours                                        68
  D. Classification According to Habits                                69
      I. Birds having remarkable cries                                 70
      II. Birds whose nests are likely to be found in any garden in
          the plains                                                   75
      III. Birds that habitually sit on exposed perches                78
      IV. Birds that go about in flocks                                79
      V. Flight                                                        81
      VI. Feeding habits                                               82
      VII. Birds which habitually carry the tail almost vertically     85

                                 PART II
  Descriptive List of the Common Birds of the Plains of India          89
  Index to Descriptive List                                           229

                                  PART I

  _A. Hindustani Names of Common Birds_
  _B. Classification according to Structural Peculiarities_
  _C. Classification according to Colour_
  _D. Classification according to Habits_


In all cases the number in brackets which follows the name of a bird is
the number of the bird in the Descriptive List that composes Part II of
this book.

  _Ababil_, Swallow, Martin, Swift (80-90, 124 and 125).
  _Ablak Maina_, Pied Myna (54).
  _Baglā_, Paddy bird (224).
  _Bara Kowā_, Corby (1).
  _Batér_, Quail (171).
  _Bāya_, Baya or Weaver bird (70).
  _Bāz_, Eagle (146); also Goshawk.
  _Bhairi_, Peregrine Falcon.
  _Bhīmrāj_, Racket-tailed Drongo (27).
  _Brāhmini Chīl_, Brahminy Kite (151).
  _Buchanga_, King Crow (25).
  _Būlbūl_, Bulbul (15-21).
  _Chahā_, Snipe.
  _Chakwá_, Brahminy Duck (229).
  _Chandūl_, Lark (97-103).
  _Chīl_, Kite (152).
  _Chotā Chahā_, Jack Snipe.
  _Daryā Mainā_, Bank Myna (53).
  _Dayāl_, Magpie Robin (68).
  _Desi Shāma_, Brown Rock-chat (64).
  _Dhobin_, Wagtail (91-94).
  _Fakhtā_, Dove (166-169).
  _Gheti_, Goose (Mirzapur district).
  _Gidh_, Vulture (141-145).
  _Golābi Mainā_, Rose-coloured Starling (48).
  _Gonriya_, Sparrow (82).
  _Gūgū_, Dove (166-169).
  _Hāns_, Barred-headed Goose (228).
  _Harre Lāl_, Green Munia (78).
  _Harriāl_, Green Pigeon (163 and 164).
  _Jānghil_, Painted Stork.
  _Jangli tota_, Sirkeer Cuckoo.
  _Kabūtār_ Pigeon (165).
  _Kālā Pidhā_, Pied Bush Chat (61 and 62).
  _Kālā Tītar_, Black Partridge (172).
  _Kārkarra_, Demoiselle Crane (179).
  _Koil_, Koel (130).
  _Kotwāl_, King Crow (25).
  _Kowā_, House Crow (3).
  _Kūlang_, Common Crane (177).
  _Laggar_, Lugger Falcon (160).
  _Lahtora_, Shrike (34-37).
  _Lāl_, _Lāl Mūnia_, Amadavat (77).
  _Machlimār_, Osprey (140).
  _Mainā_, Myna (52).
  _Mōhok_, Crow-pheasant (131).
  _Mor_, Peafowl (170).
  _Nīlkant_, Roller (115).
  _Pahāri Mainā_, Grackle (46 and 47).
  _Pāndubi_, Dabchick.
  _Pan-kowa_, Cormorant (209-211).
  _Perki_, Dove.
  _Phutki_, Tailor-bird, warbler (28-33).
  _Pīlak_, Oriole (44 and 45).
  _Popīyā_, Brain-fever bird (128).
  _Rāj Hans_, Grey-lag Goose (227).
  _Safēd Gīdh_, Scavenger Vulture (144 and 145).
  _Sārās_, Sarus Crane (178).
  _Sāth Bhai_, Seven Sisters (7-9).
  _Sawan_, Bar-headed Goose (Unao district).
  _Shāh Būlbūl_, Paradise Flycatcher (57).
  _Shikrā_, Shikra (158).
  _Silahi_, Whistling Teal.
  _Siphāhi Bulbul_, Red-whiskered Bulbul (20 and 21).
  _Sūbak_, Night Heron (Baraich district).
  _Sūga_, Paroquet.
  _Sūrkiā Baglā_, Cattle Egret (223).
  _Surkhābi_, Brahminy Duck.
  _Thampāl_, King Crow (25).
  _Tilyer_, Rose-coloured Starling (48).
  _Tīsa_, White-eyed Buzzard (147).
  _Tītar_, Grey Partridge (173).
  _Tītiri_, Plover, Lapwing (183 and 184).
  _Tōtā_, Paroquet (132-134).
  _Turamti_, Red-headed Merlin (161).
  _Tūti_, Rose Finch (80).
  _Ūllū_, Owl (135-139).
  _Wāk_, Night Heron (225).
  _Wokāb_, Tawny Eagle (146).

The following words are used by Indians as equivalent to the English word

  _Jhonj_ or _Jhūnj_. (In some parts of the country this is used to
          describe a hanging nest.)
  _Ghonsla_ or _Gonchila_.
  _Bil_ or _Gahda_. Used for a nest in a hole.


  I. Bills.
  II. Crest.
  III. Legs.
  IV. Tail.
  V. Sexual Dimorphism.

                                I. BILLS

                        _Birds with Long Bills_

  1. The Sunbirds (106-108). (Very small birds with long curved bills.)
  2. The Kingfishers (118-120). (Fairly long and straight.)
  3. The Hornbills (121 and 122). (Big birds with long tails.)
  4. The Hoopoe (123). (Bill very long and slightly curved.)
  5. The Black-winged Stilt (187). (Fairly long, very slender.)
  6. The Avocet (188). (Fairly long, slender, with an _upward_ curve.)
  7. The Curlew (189). (Very long and curved.)
  8. The Whimbrel (190). (Long and curved.)
  9. The Black-tailed Godwit (191).
  10. The Snipes.
  11. The Pelicans (207 and 208).
  12. The Ibises (212-214). (Very long and slightly curved.)
  13. The Spoonbill (215). (Long, straight, and flattened with a
          ladle-like tip.)
  14. The Storks (216-221).
  15. The Herons (222-225). (Fairly long and dagger-shaped.).

                               II. CREST

                            _Crested birds_

  1. The Madras Red-vented Bulbul (15).
  2. The Burmese Red-vented Bulbul (16).
  3. The Bengal Red-vented Bulbul (17).
  4. The Punjab Red-vented Bulbul (18).
  5. The White-eared Bulbul (19).
  6. The Bengal Red-whiskered Bulbul (20).
  7. The Southern Red-whiskered Bulbul(21).
  8. The Large Racket-tailed Drongo (27).
  9. The Rose-coloured Starling (48).
  10. The Brahminy Myna (51).
  11. The Paradise Flycatcher (57).
  12. The Crested Lark (101).
  13. Sykes’s Crested Lark (102).
  14. The Malabar Crested Lark (103).
  15. The Yellow-fronted Woodpecker (110).
  16. The Golden Woodpecker (111).
  17. The Pied Kingfisher (small crest) (118).
  18. The Indian Hoopoe (123).
  19. The Pied-crested Cuckoo (129).
  20. The Common Peafowl (170).
  21. The Large Cormorant (small crest) (209).
  22. The Indian Spur-winged Plover (184a).
  23. The Herons (222-225).

                               III. LEGS

                      _Birds with very long legs_

  1. The White-breasted Water-hen (174). (Moderately long.)
  2. The Purple Coot (175).
  3. The Cranes (177-179).
  4. The Stone Curlew (180).
  5. The Lapwings (183 and 184).
  6. The Black-winged Stilt (187).
  7. The Avocet (188).
  8. The Curlew (189).
  9. The Whimbrel (190).
  10. The Spoonbill (215).
  11. The Storks (216-221).
  12. The Common Flamingo (226).
  13. The Indian Spur-winged Plover (184a).

                 _Birds with legs feathered to the toe_

  1. The Owls (135-139).
  2. The True Eagles (146).
  3. The Sandgrouse.

                                IV. TAIL

                 1. _Birds with the tail deeply forked_

  1. The Drongos (25-27).
  2. The Swallows (88-90).
  3. The Palm Swift (125).
  4. The Common Kite (152). (Tail slightly forked. This distinguishes the
          Kite from all other raptorial birds which have round, square,
          or wedge-shaped tails.)
  5. The Terns (200-206).

 2. _Birds with long tails_ (i.e. _long in proportion to rest of body_)

  1. The Indian Tree-pie (5).
  2. The King Crow (25).
  3. The White-bellied Drongo (26).
  4. The Larger Racket-tailed Drongo (27).
  5. The Tailor Bird (cock in breeding plumage when the two middle
          feathers are prolonged as two bristles) (28).
  6. The Paradise Flycatcher (cock only) (57).
  7. The Shama (69).
  8. The Wire-tailed Swallow (two of the tail feathers are prolonged
          beyond the others and look like wires. These frequently get
          broken off) (89).
  9. The Common Indian Bee-eater (the two median tail feathers are
          prolonged as bristles) (116).
  10. The Blue-tailed Bee-eater (the two median tail feathers are
          prolonged as bristles) (117).
  11. The Hornbills (121 and 122).
  12. The Cuckoos (128-130).
  13. The Crow-pheasant (131).
  14. The Large Indian Paroquet (132).
  15. The Rose-ringed Paroquet (133).
  16. The Western Blossom-headed Paroquet (134).
  17. The Peacock (170). In this species it is not the tail, but the
          upper tail coverts which are elongated.
  18. The Pheasant-tailed Jaçana (in breeding plumage) (182).
  19. Terns (202-204).

                   3. _Birds with a very short tail_

  1. The Nuthatches (23 and 24).
  2. The Munias (74-79). (Fairly short).
  3. The Ashy-crowned Finch-Lark (105).
  4. The Indian Pitta (109).
  5. The Woodpeckers (110 and 111). (Fairly short.)
  6. The Barbets (113 and 114).
  7. The Kingfishers (118-120).
  8. The Common Indian Swift (124).
  9. The Spotted Owlet (135).
  10. The Scops Owl (138).
  11. The Vultures (140-142). (Fairly short.)
  12. The Common Quail (171).
  13. The Partridges (172 and 173).
  14. The White-breasted Water-hen (174).
  15. The Purple Coot (175).
  16. The Coot (176).
  17. The Plovers (185 and 186).
  18. The Avocet (188).
  19. The Black-tailed Godwit (191).
  20. The Sandpipers (192-194).
  21. The Little Stint (195).
  22. The Pelicans (207 and 208).
  23. The Cormorants (209-211).
  24. The Ibises (212-214).
  25. The Spoonbill (215).
  26. The Egrets (223).
  27. The Paddy Bird (224).
  28. The Night Heron (225).
  29. The Common Flamingo (226).
  30. The Geese (227 and 228).
  31. The Ducks (229 and 230).
  32. The Little Grebe (231). (No tail at all.)

4. _Birds in which a part of the tail feathers are prolonged beyond the
                           rest as bristles_

                     (_a_) _Median pair prolonged_

  1. (Cock) Tailor Bird (in hot weather).
  2. The Bee-eaters (116 and 117).

                      (_b_) _Outer pair prolonged_

  1. The Larger Racket-tailed Drongo (27). (The web reappears at the tip,
          so as to form a disc at the terminal part of the feather.)
  2. The Wire-tailed Swallow.

                          V. SEXUAL DIMORPHISM

        _Birds in which the sexes differ greatly in appearance_

  1. The Common Iora (13).
  2. The Minivets (39-41).
  3. The Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrike (42).
  4. The Orioles (44 and 45).
  5. The Rose-coloured Starling (48).
  6. The Indian Paradise Flycatcher (57).
  7. The Pied Bush Chats (61 and 62).
  8. The Indian Bush Chat (63).
  9. The Indian Redstart (65).
  10. The Indian Robins (66 and 67).
  11. The Magpie Robin (68).
  12. The Shama (69).
  13. The Weaver Birds (70-73). (In breeding season only.)
  14. The Indian Red Munia (79). (Particularly in breeding season.)
  15. The Common Rose-Finch (80).
  16. The Common Sparrow (82).
  17. The Buntings (84 and 85).
  18. The Ashy-crowned Finch-Lark (105).
  19. The Sunbirds (106-108).
  20. The Koel (130).
  21. The Blossom-headed Paroquet (134).
  22. The Harriers (153-157).
  23. The Red Turtle Dove (169).
  24. The Common Peafowl (170).
  25. The Black Partridge (172).
  26. The Shoveller (230). (In breeding plumage.)


  I. Black.
  II. Blue.
  III. Brown.
  IV. Coffee or fawn colour.
  V. Green.
  VI. Grey.
  VII. Pink.
  VIII. Red.
  IX. White.
  X. Yellow.
  XI. Birds of many colours.

Colour affords the easiest means of identifying the great majority of
birds, but in many cases the colours displayed, although conspicuous and
easily recognised, are not of a nature to admit of strict classification.
Take, for example, the blues—various species display almost every known
shade from slaty grey to turquoise, from purple to ultramarine and
indigo. To attempt to distinguish in the lists between the many shades of
blue would have led to inevitable confusion. I have, therefore, divided
my blues into bright blue, dark blue, and slaty blue. My method is
probably inartistic, but it will, I hope, facilitate the task of

Again, it is no easy matter to draw the line between greyish and brownish
birds, hence I have included some species under both heads. The reader
should bear in mind that, while nothing is easier than to identify some
birds by their colour, in the case of others colour is at the best a
rough guide—one, but only one, of the clues which have to be followed up
before the identity of the species can be established. In the case of
Raptorial birds colour is of very little assistance, since the great
majority of them are of the same colour, moreover, individuals vary
greatly in colouration at different stages of their existence.

                                I. BLACK

          1. _Birds with a quantity of black in their plumage_

                           (_a_) _All Black_

  1. The Indian Corby (1).
  2. The Raven (2).
  3. The King Crow (25).
  4. The Large Racket-tailed Drongo (27).
  5. (Cock) Sunbirds (106 and 107). (These are really dark purple, but
          sometimes look black from a distance.)
  6. (Cock) Koel (bill green, eyes red) (130).
  7. (Young) Scavenger Vultures (144 and 145).
  8. Coot (176). (White bill and shield on forehead.)
  9. The Indian Shag (210).

                          (_b_) _Mainly Black_

  1. The Indian House Crow (3). This and (4) have grey necks, darker in
  2. The Burmese House Crow (4).
  3. The Malabar Whistling Thrush (11). (Patches of cobalt-blue.)
  4. The Grackles (46 and 47). (Yellow wattles and white bar in wing.)
  5. The Indian Starling (49). (With small yellow or whitish spots.)
  6. The Common Indian Swift (124). (Smoky brown, with white bar across
  7. The Palm Swift (125). (Brownish black.)
  8. The Crow-Pheasant (131). (Wings chestnut brown.)
  9. The Black Vulture (141). (Red head, white breast and patch on each
  10. The White-backed Vulture (143). (Very dark grey, with white back.)
  11. (Cock) Black Partridge (172). (With narrow white bars and broad
          chestnut collar.)
  12. White-breasted Water-hen (174). (Very dark grey, with white face,
          throat, and chest, and red under tail.)
  13. The Large and Little Cormorants (209 and 211). (White throat.)
  14. Black Ibis (213). (Top of head red, white patch on wing.)

                        2. _Black-headed birds_

  1. The Indian Tree-Pie (5).
  2. (Cock) Iora (13).
  3. The Red-vented Bulbuls (15-19). (Small crest.)
  4. The Red-whiskered Bulbuls (20 and 21). (Large pointed crest.)
  5. The Minivets (39 and 40).
  6. The Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrike (42).
  7. The Black-headed Oriole (45).
  8. The Rose-coloured Starling (48).
  9. The Black-headed Myna (51).
  10. The Common Myna (52). (With yellow patch of skin behind eye.)
  11. The Paradise Flycatcher (57).
  12. The Indian Redstart (cock in spring) (65).
  13. The Magpie Robin (cock) (68).
  14. The Shama (69).
  15. The Black-headed Munia (74).
  16. The Chestnut-bellied Munia (75).
  17. The Black-headed Bunting (in spring) (84).
  18. The Purple-rumped Sunbird (108). (The head and breast are not black
          in this species, but look black from a distance.)
  19. The Crow-Pheasant (131).
  20. (Male) Pied Harrier (156).
  21. The Bronze-winged Jaçana (181).
  22. The Red-wattled Lapwing (183). (Red wattle and sides of neck
  23. The Yellow-wattled Lapwing (184). (Yellow wattle, back of neck
  24. The Terns (especially in summer) (200-205).
  25. The White Ibis (212).
  26. The White-necked Stork (217). (Neck white.)
  27. The Black-necked Stork (218).
  28. The Night Heron (225).
  29. The Indian Spur-winged Plover (184a).

        3. _Black collaret or gorget or band across the breast_

  1. The Bengal Red-whiskered Bulbul (20).
  2. The Southern Red-whiskered Bulbul (21). (Collaret interrupted.)
  3. The White Wagtail (patch on breast) (91).
  4. The Ashy-crowned Finch-Lark (105). (Black cross on throat.)
  5. The Common Indian Bee-eater (116).
  6. Some of the Bustards. (Not dealt with in this book.)
  7. The Pheasant-tailed Jaçana (182).
  8. The Little Ringed Plover (186).
  9. The Painted Stork (220).

  4. _Black streak through the eye_ (i.e. _from beak to back of head_)

  1. The Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch (23).
  2. The Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (24).
  3. The Shrikes (34-37).
  4. The Indian Oriole (44). (Rather a patch than a streak.)
  5. The Ashy-crowned Finch-Lark (105).
  6. The Indian Pitta (109).
  7. The Bee-eaters (116 and 117).

                     5. _Black and another colour_

                         (_a_) _Black and blue_

  1. The Malabar Whistling Thrush (11).
  2. The Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (24). (Whitish throat, lower parts
  3. The Indian Blue Rock Pigeon (165). (Slaty blue, with black wing bars
          and red legs.)

                  (_b_) _Black and brown_ (_chestnut_)

  1. The Indian Tree-Pie (5). (Silver-grey on wings, grey bars on tail,
          which is long.)
  2. The Common Myna (52). (White in wings and tail, yellow legs, and
          patch of skin behind eye.)
  3. (Hen and young) Indian Paradise Flycatcher (57).
  4. (Cock) Brown-backed Indian Robin (66). (Red patch under tail.)
  5. The Chestnut-bellied Munia (75).
  6. The Crow-Pheasant (131). (A black bird with brown wings).

                (_c_) _Black and coffee or fawn colour_

  The Rose-coloured Starling (48).

                         (_d_) _Black and grey_

  1. The Indian House Crow (3).
  2. The Burmese House Crow (4).
  3. The Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrike (42). (Lower abdomen white and white
          tip to tail.)
  4. The Large Cuckoo-Shrike (43).
  5. The Bank Myna (53). (Red patch of skin on side of head and buff wing
  6. The Open-bill (221). (When not in breeding plumage.)

                         (_e_) _Black and pink_

  The Rose-coloured Starling (cock) (48).

                         (_f_) _Black and red_

  1. The Indian Scarlet Minivet (cock) (41).
  2. The Short-billed Minivet (cock) (42).
  3. The Indian Redstart (cock in spring) (65). (Red is dull; outer tail
          feathers brown.)
  4. The Black-backed Indian Robin (cock) (67). (A black bird with red
          patch under tail.)
  5. The Common Swallow (88). (Upper plumage has bluish tinge; some white
          in tail.)
  6. The Red-rumped Swallow (90). (Upper plumage has bluish tinge.)
  7. The Black Vulture (141). (White breast and patch on thigh.)
  8. The Black Ibis (213). (Small white patch on wing.)

                        (_g_) _Black and white_

  1. The White-bellied Drongo (26).
  2. The Grackles (46 and 47). (Black birds with white wing bar, yellow
          wattles, bills, and legs.)
  3. The Pied Myna (54). (Orange bill and patch behind eye.)
  4. (Cock) Paradise Flycatcher (57). (White bird with long tail and
          black head and crest.)
  5. The Fantail Flycatchers (58-60).
  6. (Cock) Pied Bush Chats (61 and 62).
  7. The Magpie Robin (68).
  8. The Large Pied Wagtail (92).
  9. The Indian Pied Kingfisher (118). (Spotted black and white like a
          Hamburgh fowl.)
  10. The Common Indian Swift (124). (Very dark brown, with white bar
          across back.)
  11. The Pied-crested Cuckoo (129).
  12. The Indian White-backed Vulture (143). (Very dark grey, with white
  13. (Cock) Pied Harrier (155).
  14. The Coot (176).
  15. (Cock) Black-winged Stilt (187). (Long-legged white bird with black
          back and wings.)
  16. The Avocet (188). (White wading bird with black markings.)
  17. The Indian Skimmer (206). (Dark brown and white.)
  18. The Cormorants (209 and 211). (Black birds with white throat.)
  19. The White Ibis (212). (White bird with black head.)
  20. The White Stork (216). (White bird with black in wings; red bill
          and legs.)
  21. The White-necked Stork (217). (Black bird with white neck and lower
  22. The Black-necked Stork (218).
  23. The Painted Stork (220).
  24. The Open-bill (221).

                        (_h)_ _Black and yellow_

  1. (Cock) Iora (in summer) (13). (Two white bars in wing.)
  2. (Hen) Scarlet and Short-billed Minivets (39 and 40).
  3. The Orioles (44 and 45).
  4. The Grackles (46 and 47). (Black birds with yellow bill, wattles,
          and legs, and white wing bar.)

                    6. _Black and two other colours_

                     (_a_) _Black, blue, and white_

  The Velvet-fronted Blue Nuthatch (24). (The white is greyish.)

                    (_b_) _Black, brown, and white_

  1. The Black-tailed Godwit (191).
  2. The Barred-headed Goose (228). (Plumage greyish brown; bill and legs
  3. The Indian Spur-winged Plover (184a).

                   (_c_) _Black, chestnut, and white_

  1. (Cock) Indian Bush Chat (63).
  2. The Shama (69).
  3. The Black-headed Munia (74).
  4. The Chestnut-bellied Munia (75).
  5. (Cock) Black Partridge (172).
  6. The Bronze-winged Jaçana (181).

                 (_d_) _Black, fawn-colour, and white_

  The Indian Hoopoe (123).

                     (_e_) _Black, grey, and white_

  1. The Indian Grey Shrike (34).
  2. The Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrike (42).
  3. The White Wagtail (91).
  4. The Ashy-crowned Finch-Lark (105).
  5. The Gulls* (196-199)
  6. The Terns* (200-205)
  7. The Night Heron (225).
  8. The Barred-headed Goose (228). (Greyish brown; bill and legs

  * Wings very pale grey

                     (_f_) _Black, pink, and white_

  The Common Flamingo (226).

                                II. BLUE

                   _Birds with blue in their plumage_

                          (_a_) _Bright blue_

  1. The Common Green Bulbul (14). (Bright green bird with blue
  2. The Indian Pitta (109).
  3. The Indian Roller or “Blue Jay” (115). (Wings and tail composed of
          light and dark blue bars.)
  4. The Common Indian Bee-eater (116). (A green bird with turquoise
          throat, black streak through eye, and two long bristle-like
          feathers in tail.)
  5. The Blue-tailed Bee-eater (117).
  6. The Common Kingfisher (119).
  7. The White-breasted Kingfisher (120).
  8. The Green Parrots (132-134). (Green birds with blue in their long
  9. The Common Peafowl (170).
  10. The Purple Coot (175). (A large purple-blue bird with red bill,
          legs, and frontal shield.)

                           (_b_) _Dark blue_

  1. The Malabar Whistling Thrush (11). (A black bird with cobalt
  2. The Nuthatches (23 and 24). (Little short-tailed birds which go
          about in small flocks and pick insects off the bark of trees.)
  3. The Swallows (88-90). (Upper parts glossy, dark blue.)
  4. The Indian Roller or “Blue Jay” (115). (Wings and tail composed of
          light and dark blue bars.)

                     (_c_) _Slaty or greyish blue_

  The Indian Blue Rock Pigeon (165).

                      (_d_) _Blue and black birds_

                      (_Vide_ Black and blue birds.)

                               III. BROWN

The number of birds of which the predominating hue is brownish is very
considerable, and as these usually have nothing striking about their
appearance, they are among the most difficult birds to identify. Birds
which appear to be a uniform earthy brown will be found on closer
inspection almost invariably to be brighter in hue below than above. This
is largely counteracted by the fact that the lower parts are in the
shade. Most birds which look a uniform earthy brown are in reality a
cream colour below, and are described as such in systematic works on
ornithology. But as this book is intended for the field naturalist, I
shall describe them as they appear to the ordinary observer.

              1. _Birds whose general hue is earthy brown_

                 (_a_) _Those smaller than the sparrow_

  1. The Indian Tailor Bird (28). (This flits about among the leaves. The
          note is a loud _to-wee, to-wee, to-wee_. When the bird calls a
          small black band may be seen at each side of the neck. In the
          breeding season the two middle tail feathers of the cock grow
          over an inch longer than the others and project beyond them
          like bristles. A very familiar wren-like bird. The brown has a
          greenish tint.)
  2. Sykes’s Tree-warbler (29). (Not unlike a solidly built wren, with a
          tail of average length, and not short like that of the wren.)
  3. The Streaked Wren-warbler (30). (This is distinguished from other
          warblers by the fact that its upper plumage is streaked with
          dark brown.)
  4. The Ashy Wren-warbler (31). (Makes a curious snapping noise as it
          flits about the bushes.)
  5. The Indian Wren-warblers (32 and 33). (Slender and loosely-knit, and
          make no snapping noise.)
  6. The Brown Flycatcher (55). (Characterised by its short tail and the
          fact that it constantly makes little sallies into the air after
  7. (Hen) Indian Bush Chat (63). (Reddish brown. Cock quite differently
  8. The White-throated Munia (76). (Very thick bill, white throat and
          rump, and a note like the twitter of the sparrow; usually seen
          in small flocks.)
  9. The Indian Sand-martin (86). (Swallow-like flight; nests in
  10. The Dusky Crag-martin (87). (Swallow-like flight; builds mud nest.)
  11. (Hen) Sunbirds (106-108). (Pale yellow under parts, longish curved
          bill, sometimes hovers in the air on rapidly vibrating wings.
          Cocks gaily coloured.)

       (_b_) _The size of, or a little larger than, the sparrow_

  1. The Common Babbler (6). (A brown bird with a number of dark streaks.
          As it runs along it carries its tail along the ground, hence
          its name, “The Rat Bird.”)
  2. The White-browed Bulbul (22). (Pale yellow patch under the tail,
          white eyebrow. It has a very cheery call.)
  3. The Common Woodshrike (38). (Broad white eyebrow, outer tail
          feathers white; a pretty mellow note—_tanti tuia_.)
  4. (Hen) Pied Bush Chat (61 and 62). (Reddish brown, with black tail;
          cock more strikingly coloured.)
  5. The Brown Rock Chat (64). (Robin-like in habits; continually bobs
          its head.)
  6. (Hen) Indian Robins (67 and 68). (Brick-red patch under tail. Tail
          often carried erect.)
  7. Weaver Birds (70-73). (Stout bill. Cock becomes showy in breeding
  8. (Hen) Rose Finch (80). (Two white bars in wing.)
  9. Yellow-throated sparrow (81). (Yellow patch on throat.)
  10. (Hen) Common Sparrow (82).
  11. The Grey-necked Bunting (83). (Thickish bill, some dark streaks in
          plumage and white in tail.)
  12. (Hen) Black-headed Bunting (84). (Dull yellow under parts and
          bright yellow patch under the tail.)
  13. The Pipits (95 and 96). (Longish legs; dark streaks in plumage.
          Feed on ground, but take refuge in trees when disturbed.)
  14. The Larks (97 and 98). (Feed on ground; never perch in trees; some
          soar in the air and sing.)
  15. The Bush Larks (99 and 100). (Distinguished from the true larks in
          perching in bushes when they sometimes take short flights into
          the air. Distinguished from the pipits in having no white in
          the tail.)
  16. The Crested Larks (101-103). (Feed on ground; sing in air; never
          perch in bushes. Crested heads; no white in tail.)
  17. The Common Wryneck (112). (Woodpecker-like habits. It twists its
          head from side to side continually. Its plumage is much
          streaked, speckled, and spotted.)
  18. The Spotted Owlet (135). (Plumage much spotted and barred with
          white. Eyes in front of head. Comes out at sunset and sets up a
          loud chuckling chatter. Legs feathered to the toes.)
  19. The Scops Owl (138). (Differs from the Spotted Owlet in having
          “horns” or ear-tufts. Note a single hoot, which is repeated
          regularly at intervals of about ten seconds.)
  20. The Jungle Owlet (139). (Distinguished from the Spotted Owlet by
          its call and by the fact that it is far less often seen.)
  21. The Kentish Plover (185). (White collar. Found in flocks on the sea
  22. The Little Ringed Plover (186). (Like the Kentish Plover, but
          distinguished from it by having a black band across the white
  23. The Little Stint. (Wading birds, which occur in large flocks on
          shallow water.)

                    (_c_) _About the size of a myna_

  1. The Jungle Babbler (7). (An untidy-looking bird, which goes about in
          small flocks of half a dozen, feeding on the ground; very
          noisy; flight feeble.)
  2. The White-headed Babbler (8). (As above, but the crown of the head
          is greyish white. Found only in S. India.)
  3. The Rufous-tailed Babbler (9). (Habits like those of the two species
          just cited; tail has a reddish tinge.)
  4. The Common Indian Nightjar (126). (Plumage much mottled; crepuscular
          in its habits; it flits about at dusk hawking insects.)
  5. Horsfield’s Nightjar (127). (A large edition of above.)
  6. The Common Hawk Cuckoo (128). (Plumage much barred, like that of a
          bird of prey. Its loud crescendo call, a reiterated
          “brain-fever,” has made it familiar to all.)
  7. The Shikra and the Sparrow-hawk (158 and 159). (Ashy grey birds with
          dark cross-bars to the feathers.)
  8. The Common Quail (171). (A good deal smaller than a myna; legs
          short; plumage much barred with black. Lives exclusively on the
  9. The Sandpipers (192-194). (Long-legged birds with white under parts
          and short tails, which occur in marshes or at the water’s

                (_d_) _Large birds. Bigger than a crow_

  1. The Common Grey Hornbill (121). (A large brownish-grey bird with
          long tail and big beak.)
  2. The Malabar Grey Hornbill (122). (Like the above, but found chiefly
          on the west coast.)
  3. The larger Owls (136 and 137). (Much barred and spotted. Night
          birds, with the eyes forwardly directed.)
  4. The great majority of Birds of Prey (140-162). (Plumage usually much
  5. The Grey Partridge (174). (Plumage much barred. Does not perch in
          trees; runs very fast; characteristic call.)
  6. The Stone Curlew (180). (Black streaks in plumage, some white in
          wings and tail; legs and bill yellow.)
  7. The Curlew (189). (A wading bird. Long curved bill.)
  8. The Whimbrel (190). (A small edition of the Curlew.)
  9. The Pond Heron (124). (Found at the water’s edge. Flight transforms
          it into a milk-white bird.)
  10. The Night Heron (225). (Head black. Its cry “wāāk” is heard at
  11. The Grey-lag Goose (227). (Bill and legs dirty pink.)
  12. The Sirkeer Cuckoo (131a). (Bill red. About the size of the

           2. _Birds with chocolate or rich brown in plumage_

  1. The Indian Treepie (5). (Long tail, silver grey on wings.)
  2. The Yellow-eyed Babbler (10). (Cinnamon-brown bird with white
  3. The Brown Shrike (37).
  4. The Brahminy Myna (51). (Buff and grey bird with a black head.)
  5. The Common Myna (52). (Yellow patch of skin at side of head.)
  6. The Indian Bush Chat (63).
  7. (Hen) Indian Redstart (65).
  8. (Hen) Indian Robins (66 and 67). (Cock also in one species.)
  9. The Munias (74, 75, and 77). (Not 76.)
  10. The Red-headed Bunting (85).
  11. The White-breasted Kingfisher (120).
  12. The Crow-Pheasant (131). (Black bird with reddish-brown wings.)
  13. The Barn Owl (136).
  14. The Short-eared Owl (137).
  15. The Brahminy Kite (151). (Reddish-brown bird with white head.)
  16. The Kestrel (162). (Wings reddish brown.)
  17. (Cock) Red Turtle Dove (168). (Wings reddish brown.)
  18. The Black Partridge (172).
  19. The Bronze-winged Jaçana (181). (Runs about on water weeds.)
  20. The Red and Yellow-wattled Lapwings (183 and 184). (Back and wings
          bronzy brown.)
  21. The Glossy Ibis (214).
  22. The Shoveller (230).
  23. The Indian Little Grebe (231).

                      3. _Brown and black birds._

                     (_Vide_ Black and brown birds.)

                       IV. COFFEE OR FAWN COLOUR

     1. _A fawn-coloured bird with black and white wings and tail_

  The Indian Hoopoe (123).

                      2. _Black and coffee colour_

  (Young) Rose-coloured Starling (40).

                                V. GREEN

       _Birds in the plumage of which bright green predominates_

  1. The Indian White-eye (12). (Greenish yellow above, bright yellow
  2. (Hen) Iora (13). (Lower parts yellow; two white wing bars.)
  3. The Common Green Bulbul* (14).
  4. The Green Munia (78). (Yellow under parts; red beak.)
  5. The Indian Pitta (109). (Back and shoulders only are green.)
  6. The Green Barbet* (113). (Brown patch of skin behind the eye.)
  7. The Coppersmith (114). (Olive green.)
  8. The Bee-eaters* (116 and 117). (Two middle tail feathers prolonged
          as bristles.)
  9. The Paroquets* (132-134). (Long tails.)
  10. The Green Pigeons (163 and 164).
  11. The Bronze-winged Jaçana (181). (Wings only greenish bronze. Runs
          about on floating plants.)
  12. (Cock) Shoveller Duck (230). (Head, neck, and wing patch (speculum)
          only glossy green.)
  13. The Little Green Heron. [Added to p. 224 by this list.]

  * These are practically green all over.

                                VI. GREY

                        1. _Prevailing hue grey_

  N.B.—Many birds are so coloured that it is not easy to know whether to
  class them as grey or as brown birds.

  1. The Indian Grey Shrike (34). (Broad black band through eye.)
  2. The Small Minivet (41). (Upper parts slaty-grey.)
  3. The Cuckoo-Shrikes (42 and 43).
  4. The Grey-headed Myna (50).
  5. The Bank Myna (53). (Grey and black bird with red patch of skin on
          side of head.)
  6. (Hen) Magpie Robin (68). (Grey and white bird.)
  7. The Grey and Grey-headed Wagtails (93 and 94). (Upper parts bluish
          grey, lower yellow.)
  8. The Ashy-crowned Finch-Lark (105). (Upper parts ashy grey.)
  9. The Grey Hornbills (121 and 122). (Large greyish-brown birds with
          the tail long.)
  10. The Pale, Montagu’s and the Hen Harriers (153-155).
  11. The Shikra (158). (Narrow rust-coloured bars on lower parts.)
  12. The Sparrow-hawk (159). (Rust-coloured bars on abdomen.)
  13. The Indian Blue Rock Pigeon (165). (Bluish-grey with two black bars
          in wing.)
  14. The Doves (166-169).
  15. The Grey Partridge (173). (Plumage greyish-brown and much barred.)
  16. The Cranes (177-179). (Large French-grey birds with long shanks.)
  17. The Grey Pelican (208). (Pale grey; enormous bill.)
  18. The Adjutant (219).
  19. The Common Heron (222).
  20. The Barred-headed Goose.

                        2. _The head only grey_

  1. The White-headed Babbler (8). (Crown of head is often greyish rather
          than white.)
  2. The Bay- and Rufous-backed Shrikes (35 and 36). (Broad black band
          through eye.)
  3. The Grey-headed Flycatcher (56).
  4. (Cock) Indian Redstart (65). (Head and neck grey in early winter.)
  5. (Cock) Black-headed Bunting (84). (In early winter. Under parts

                          3. _Grey and black_

                         (_Vide_ Black and grey.)

                      4. _Grey, black, and white_

                     (_Vide_ Black, grey, and white.)

                         5. _Grey and red bird_

  The Kestrel (162). (Head, neck, and tail grey; back and wings brick

                          6. _Grey and white_

  1. (Hen) Magpie Robin (68).
  2. The Gulls (196-199). (White birds with very pale grey wings.)
  3. The Terns (200-205). (White birds with very pale grey wings.)
  4. The Common Heron (222). (Under parts white.)

                               VII. PINK

  1. The Rose-coloured Starling (48). (Black and deep rose-coloured
  2. The Common Flamingo (226). (Legs long and deep pink; wings white,
          black, and cerise.)

                               VIII. RED

1. _Birds with red in plumage, or having red wattles or red skin on head_

                           (_a_) _Bright red_

  1. The Red-vented Bulbuls (15-18).
  2. The Red-whiskered Bulbuls (20 and 21).
  3. The Minivets* (39-41).
  4. The Bank Myna (53).
  5. The Indian Redstart* (65).
  6. The Indian Robins (66 and 67).
  7. The Amadavat* (79).
  8. (Cock) Common Rose-Finch (80).
  9. The Purple-rumped Sunbird (108). (Back dull crimson.)
  10. The Pitta (109).
  11. (Cock) Yellow-fronted Pied Woodpecker (110).
  12. Golden-backed Woodpecker (111).
  13. The Crimson-breasted Barbet (114).
  14. The Green Parrots (131-133).
  15. The Black Vulture (141).
  16. The Purple Coot (175). (Red shield on forehead.)
  17. The Common Crane (177). (Red patch across back of head.)
  18. The Sarus (178). (Red—not very bright—head and neck.)
  19. The Red-wattled Lapwing (183).
  20. The Black Curlew (213). (Back of head red.)
  21. The Flamingo (226). (White and cerise.)

  * These birds are conspicuously red.

             (_b_) _Dull red_ (_chestnut, bay, or maroon_)

  1. The Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch (23).
  2. The Bay- and Rufous-backed Shrikes (35 and 36).
  3. The Shama (69).
  4. The Chestnut-bellied Munia (75).
  5. The Red-headed Bunting (85).
  6. The Swallows (88-90).
  7. The Rufous-tailed Finch-Lark (104).
  8. The Common Kingfisher (119).
  9. The Crow-Pheasant (131).
  10. The Brahminy Kite (151).
  11. The Red-headed Merlin (161).
  12. The Kestrel (162).
  13. (Cock) Red Turtle Dove (169).
  14. The White-breasted Water-hen (174).
  15. The Bronze-winged Jaçana (181).
  16. The Ruddy Sheldrake (229). (The red is very yellowish.)
  17. The Shoveller (230).
  18. The Indian Little Grebe (231).

                             2. _Red crest_

  The Woodpeckers (110 and 111).

                         3. _Red-legged birds_

  1. The Coppersmith (114).
  2. The Common Kingfisher (119).
  3. The White-breasted Kingfisher (120).
  4. The Indian Blue Rock Pigeon (165).
  5. The Doves (166-168).
  6. The Partridges (172 and 173). (Dull brownish red.)
  7. The Purple Coot (175).
  8. The Sarus (178).
  9. The Black-winged Stilt (187).
  10. The Laughing Gull (196).
  11. The Brown-headed Gull (197).
  12. The Whiskered Tern (200).
  13. The Indian River Tern (203).
  14. The Black-bellied Tern (204). (Orange red.)
  15. The Indian Skimmer (206).
  16. The Black Ibis (213).
  17. The Storks (216-218).
  18. The Common Flamingo (226). (Deep pink.)
  19. The Grey-lag Goose. (Dirty pinkish red.)
  20. The Shoveller (230). (Yellowish red.)

         4. _Red patch of feathers under the tail, birds with_

  1. The Red-vented Bulbuls (15-18).
  2. The Red-whiskered Bulbuls (20 and 21).
  3. The Indian Robins (66 and 67).
  4. The Indian Pitta (109).
  5. The White-breasted Water-hen (174).

           5. _Red patch of feathers on shoulder, birds with_

  1. The Alexandrine Paroquet (131).
  2. The Blossom-headed Paroquet (133).

           6. _Red patch of skin on side of head, birds with_

  1. The Bank Myna (53).
  2. The Red-wattled Lapwing (183).

                           7. _Red and black_

                         (_Vide_ Black and red.)

                               IX. WHITE

             1. _Birds of which the plumage is pure white_

  1. The Spoonbill (215).
  2. The Egrets (223).

     2. _Birds in the plumage of which white largely predominates_

  1. (Cock) Paradise Flycatcher (57). (Black head and crest.)
  2. The Black-winged Stilt (187). (Back and wings black in cock, brown
          in hen.)
  3. The Avocet (188). (Several black markings.)
  4. The Gulls (196-199).
  5. The Terns (200-205).
  6. The Dalmatian Pelican (207). (Some black in wings.)
  7. The White Ibis (212). (Black head and neck; long curved bill.)
  8. The White Stork (216). (Black in wings; red legs.)
  9. The Black-necked Stork (218). (Black in wings; head, neck, and
          shoulders black; legs red.)
  10. The Painted Stork (220). (Black wings and bar across breast; legs
  11. The Open-bill (221). (Dirty white, with black on wings, shoulders,
          and tail.)
  12. The Common Flamingo (226). (Some cerise in the plumage.)

    3. _Dull-coloured bird whose wings appear all white when flying_

  The Pond Heron (224).

                   4. _White bar in wing, birds with_

  1. The Grey, Bay- and Rufous-backed Shrikes (34-36).
  2. The Grackles (46 and 47).
  3. The Common Myna (52).
  4. The Pied Bush Chats (61 and 62).
  5. (Cock) Indian Robins (66 and 67).
  6. The Magpie Robin (68).
  7. The Large Pied Wagtail (92).
  8. The Indian Pitta (109).
  9. The White-breasted Kingfisher (120).
  10. The Pied-crested Cuckoo (129).
  11. The Red- and Yellow-wattled Lapwings (183 and 184).
  12. The Common Sandpiper (192). (Very narrow white bar.)

                5. _Two white bars in wing, birds with_

  1. The Iora (13).
  2. (Hen) Rose-Finch (80).

                     6. _White cheeks, birds with_

  1. The White-eared Bulbul (19).
  2. The Red-whiskered Bulbuls (20 and 21). (Also a small patch of
          crimson feathers on cheeks.)
  3. The Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch (23).
  4. The Pied Myna (54).
  5. The Indian Bush Chat (63). (The patch in this species is on the
          sides of the neck, not on the cheeks.)
  6. (Cock) Sparrow (82).
  7. The Ashy-crowned Finch-Lark (105).
  8. The Golden-backed Woodpecker (111). (The white on the cheeks is
          intersected by a number of thin black lines.)
  9. The Black Partridge (172).
  10. The Common Crane (177). (In this species the white runs down each
          side of the long neck.)
  11. The Red-wattled Lapwing (183). (Here a white band runs from eye
          down the neck.)
  12. The Yellow-wattled Lapwing (184). (Here a white band runs from eye
          to eye round the back of the head.)

                 7. _Ring of white feathers round eye_

  1. The Indian White-eye (12).
  2. The Brown Flycatcher (55). (Ring not very conspicuous.)
  3. The Grey-necked Bunting (83). (Ring not very conspicuous.)

                          8. _White and black_

                        (_Vide_ Black and white.)

                      9. _White, black, and blue_

                     (_Vide_ Black, blue, and white.)

                     10. _White, black, and brown_

                    (_Vide_ Black, brown, and white.)

                    11. _White, black, and chestnut_

                   (_Vide_ Black, chestnut, and white.)

                       12. White, grey, and black

                     (_Vide_ Black, grey, and white.)

                        13. _White, pink, black_

                     (_Vide_ Black, pink, and white.)

                               X. YELLOW

              1. _Birds with bright yellow in the plumage_

  1. The Indian White-eye (12).
  2. The Iora (13).
  3. The Common Green Bulbul (14). (Patch of yellow on forehead.)
  4. The White-eared Bulbul (19). (Yellow patch under the tail.)
  5. The White-browed Bulbul (22). (Pale yellow patch under tail.)
  6. (Hen) Minivets (39, 40, and 41).
  7. The Orioles (44 and 45).
  8. The Grackles or Hill Mynas (46 and 47). (Black birds with yellow
          beak, legs, and wattles.)
  9. The Common Myna (52). (Yellow beak, legs, and patch of skin behind
  10. The Pied Myna (54). (Orange patch of skin behind eye.)
  11. The Grey-headed Flycatcher (56).
  12. (Cock) Bayas (at breeding season) (70-73).
  13. The Green Munia (78).
  14. The Yellow-throated Sparrow (81).
  15. The Black- and Red-headed Buntings (84 and 85).
  16. The Grey and Grey-headed Wagtails (93 and 94).
  17. (Cock) Purple-rumped Sunbird (108).
  18. The Indian Pitta (109).
  19. The Yellow-fronted Woodpecker (110). (Spotted black and white bird
          with yellow forehead.)
  20. The Golden-backed Woodpecker (111). (Back golden yellow.)
  21. The Pheasant-tailed Jaçana (182). (Back of neck golden yellow in
          breeding plumage.)
  22. The Yellow-wattled Lapwing (184).
  23. The Cattle Egret (in breeding plumage) (223). (Yellow plumes grow
          from back of head.)

              2. _Birds with bright yellow or orange legs_

  1. The Yellow-eyed Babbler (10).
  2. The Grackles (46 and 47).
  3. The Mynas (51-53).
  4. The Common Hawk-Cuckoo (128). (Not very bright.)
  5. The majority of Birds of Prey. (The yellow varies from dull to
  6. The Green Pigeons (163 and 164).
  7. The Black Partridge (172). (Reddish orange.)
  8. The Stone Curlew (180).
  9. The Red- and Yellow-wattled Lapwings (183-184).
  10. The Herring-Gulls (198 and 199).
  11. The Little Tern (205). (Orange in summer, brownish in winter.)
  12. The Barred-headed Goose (228).
  13. The Shoveller (230).

3. _Birds with dull-coloured upper plumage and bright yellow under parts_

  1. The Indian White-eye (12).
  2. The Iora (13).
  3. The Grey-headed Flycatcher (56).
  4. The Green Munia (78).
  5. The Black- and Red-headed Buntings (84 and 85).
  6. The Grey and Grey-headed Wagtails (93 and 94).

        4. _Yellow patch of feathers under the tail, birds with_

  1. The White-eared Bulbul (19).
  2. The White-browed Bulbul (22).

         5. _Yellow patch of feathers on the throat, bird with_

  The Yellow-throated Sparrow (81).

6. _Yellow patch of skin on side of head or yellow wattles, birds with_

  1. The Grackles (46 and 47).
  2. The Common and Pied Mynas (52 and 54).
  3. The Yellow-wattled Lapwing (184).

                           7. _Yellowish red_

  The Brahminy Duck (229). (This bird is mainly of a ruddy yellow hue.)

                         8. _Yellow and black_

                        (_Vide_ Black and yellow.)

                       XI. BIRDS OF MANY COLOURS

 9. _Birds in the plumage of which at least four bright colours appear_

  1. (Cock) Purple-rumped Sunbird (108).
  2. The Indian Pitta (109).
  3. The Coppersmith (114).
  4. The Common Kingfisher (119).
  5. The Green Pigeons (163).
  6. The Peafowl (170).


  I. Birds having remarkable cries.
  II. Birds whose nests are likely to be found in any garden in the
  III. Birds that habitually sit on exposed perches.
  IV. Birds that go about in flocks.
  V. Flight.
  VI. Feeding habits.
  VII. Birds which habitually carry the tail almost vertically.

Since habits of birds vary according to circumstances, none of the lists
given are exhaustive. They merely serve as rough guides. Thus, if a nest
be found in the compound it is in all probability the nest of one of the
species set forth in the list given, but it may, of course, belong to
some other species. The list is nevertheless useful, as out of twenty
nests found in any garden in the plains nineteen of them will also
certainly belong to birds set forth in my list. Having determined that a
given bird in all probability belongs to one of these species, it should
not be difficult to arrive at its name by a process of elimination.


                                                            Name of Bird
                                                  No. of Bird in Part II

  A loud metallic _coch-lee, coch-lee_, or _cogee, cogee_
                                                       Indian Tree-pie 5

  Squeaks like that of a revolving axle that requires oiling
                                                     The Seven Sisters 6

  A striking whistle, like that of a human being
                                                   The Idle Schoolboy 11

  A sweet little tinkling song
                                                       The Bulbuls 15-22

  A cheery whistle, heard chiefly at dawn, which Cunningham describes as
    “chēyk, chĕchi chĕyk, chēȳk chĕchi chēȳ chēȳh”
                                                        The King Crow 25

  A loud _to-wee, to-wee, to-wee_
                                                      The Tailor Bird 28

  A snapping noise
                                                    Ashy Wren-warbler 31

  A pretty, mellow _tanti-tuia_
                                                       The Woodshrike 38

  A loud, mellow, _peeho, peeho_
                                                     The Orioles 44 & 45

  _Keeky, keeky, keeky . . . churr, churr, kok, kok, kok_
                                                      The Common Myna 52

  A whistle of about six notes, like the first bars of the “Guards Valse”
                                         The Fantailed Flycatchers 58-60

  A song like that of a canary
                                                      Purple Sunbird 107

  A loud, screaming call
                                            Golden-backed Woodpecker 111

  A loud, monotonous, penetrating _kutur kutur, kuturuk_
                                                        Green Barbet 113

  A monotonous, metallic _tonk, tonk, tonk_, like the tapping of a hammer
    on metal
                                                     The Coppersmith 114

  A loud, rattling scream
                                           White-breasted Kingfisher 120

  A low _ūk, ūk, ūk_
                                                          The Hoopoe 123

  A shrill, trembling scream
                                                           The Swift 124

  A sound like a stone sliding over ice
                                                 The Common Nightjar 126

  _Chuk, chuk, chuk_, like the tapping of a plank with a hammer
                                                Horsfield’s Nightjar 127

  A _crescendo_ “brain-fever, _brain-fever_, BRAIN-FEVER”
                                                    Brain-fever Bird 128

  A _crescendo_ “ku-il, _ku-il_, KU-IL”
                                                            The Koel 130

  A low, sonorous, owl-like _whoot, whoot, whoot_
                                                   The Crow-Pheasant 131

  Loud screams uttered during flight
                                                   The Paroquets 132-134

  “A torrent of squeak and chatter and gibberish,” _kucha, kwachee,
    kwachee, kwachee, kwachee_ rapidly uttered in a shrieking, chattering
                                                   The Spotted Owlet 135

  A weird screech, heard at night
                                                        The Barn Owl 136

  A single hoot repeated monotonously at regular intervals of ten
    seconds, _oomp_
                                                       The Scops Owl 138

  At early dawn. “_Turtuck, turtuck, turtuck, turtuck, turtuck, turtuck,
    tuckatu, chatucka tuckatuck._ The words or dissyllables sounding
    rather low at first and with considerable pauses between, and the
    intervals decreasing and the tone getting louder till they end
    rapidly” (Tickell)
                                                    The Jungle Owlet 139

  Loud resonant calls uttered when the bird is high up in the air
                                                 The Fish-Eagles 148-150

  Peculiar squeaking wail uttered while the bird is sailing in the air
                                                   The Brahminy Kite 151

  A mournful wailing trill, _chee-hĭ hĭ hĭ hĭ hĭ hĭ_, uttered on the wing
                                                     The Pariah Kite 152

  A sharp double whistle
                                                          The Shikra 158

  A plaintive _cūkoo-coo-coo_
                                                    The Spotted Dove 166

  A soft subdued _cuk-cuk-coo-coo-coo_
                                               The Little Brown Dove 167

                                                The Indian Ring Dove 168

  A deep grunting _coo-coo-coo_
                                                 The Red Turtle Dove 169

  A loud _pe-haun_, rather like the _miau_ of a cat
                                                         The Peafowl 170

  A harsh, high-pitched, rapidly uttered _juk-juk, tee-tee-tur_
                                                 The Black Partridge 172

  Three single harsh notes followed by a succession of shrill, ringing
                                                  The Grey Partridge 173

  A very loud, hoarse, reiterated call, not easy to describe
                                        The White-breasted Water-hen 174

  Loud, penetrating, trumpet-like calls
                                                      The Cranes 177-179

  Wild-sounding cry, heard at night
                                                    The Stone Curlew 180

  A loud, shrill “Did he do it? Pity to do it!”
                                             The Red-wattled Lapwing 183

  Like the above, but shorter
                                          The Yellow-wattled Lapwing 184

  Clappering of the beak
                                                      The Storks 216-221

  A soft but penetrating _chakwa_ or _á-onk_ (Stuart Baker)
                                                   The Brahminy Duck 229


  1. The Indian House Crow (3). (In tall trees.) (Also the Corby (1) in
  2. The Common Babbler (6). (In a bush; eggs blue.) (Not in Madras.)
  3. One or other of the species of “Seven Sisters” (7-9). (In a bush;
          eggs blue.)
  4. One or other of the Red-vented Bulbuls (15-18). (In a bush or plant
          growing in the verandah; eggs pale pink, blotched with reddish
  5. One or other of the Red-whiskered Bulbuls (20 and 21). (Locally.
          Nest as in 4.)
  6. The White-browed Bulbul (22). (In Madras only. Nest in bush, eggs as
          in 4.)
  7. The King Crow (25). (Tiny cup in fork of tree.)
  8. The Indian Tailor Bird (28). (In bush or plant growing in verandah.
          Two or three leaves stitched together.)
  9. The Orioles (44 and 45). (In trees, very frequently quite close to
          that of a King Crow.)
  10. The Brahminy Myna (51). (In hole in building.)
  11. The Common Myna (52). (In hole in building or tree.)
  12. The Pied Myna (54). (In low tree.) (Not in Punjab or S. India.)
  13. The Indian Paradise Flycatcher (57). (In one of lower branches of
  14. One or other of the Fantailed Flycatchers (58-60). (In a low tree
          or bush.)
  15. The Brown Rock Chat (64). (_Inside_ a building on a ledge.) (Not in
          S. India.)
  16. The Indian Robins (66 and 67). (Very often on a window-sill.)
  17. The Magpie Robin (68). (In hole in a wall or tree; eggs green with
          reddish blotches.)
  18. The Yellow-throated Sparrow (81). (In hole in tree.)
  19. The Common Sparrow (82). (Anywhere on the verandah or _inside_ the
  20. The Indian Pied Wagtail (92). (In hole in building.)
  21. The Purple Sunbird (107). (Nest suspended from a bush or a rafter
          in the verandah.)
  22. The Purple-rumped Sunbird (108). (Nest as in case of 21.)
  23. The Golden-backed Woodpecker (111). (In hole in tree, which the
          bird hollows out.)
  24. The Barbets (113 and 114). (In hole in tree, which the birds hollow
  25. The Indian Roller (115). (In hole in tree or building.)
  26. The Indian Hoopoe (123). (In hole in tree or building.)
  27. The Indian Swift (124). (In verandah or a deserted building.)
  28. The Crow-Pheasant (131). (In a dense thicket.)
  29. The Green Parrots (132-134). (In holes in trees; sometimes
  30. The Spotted Owlet (135). (In hole in tree or building.)
  31. The Common Pariah Kite (152). (High up in tall trees.)
  32. The Shikra (158). (In trees.)
  33. The Doves (166-169). (In trees, and in the case of the Little Brown
          Dove often in the verandah.)
  34. The Paddy Bird (224). (High up in tree.)

                            TELEGRAPH WIRES

  1. The Crows (1-4).
  2. The Drongos (25 and 26).
  3. The Shrikes (34-37).
  4. The Bush Chats (61-63).
  5. The Common Sparrow (82).
  6. The Swallows (88-90).
  7. The Indian Roller (115).
  8. The Bee-eaters (116 and 117).
  9. The Kingfishers (118-120).
  10. The White-eyed Buzzard (147).
  11. The Doves (166-168).


  1. The Babblers (7-9). (Small flocks of seven or eight.)
  2. The Indian White-eye (12).
  3. The Nuthatches (23 and 24).
  4. The Minivets (39-41). (Small flocks.)
  5. The Cuckoo-Shrikes (42 and 43). (Small flocks.)
  6. The Rose-coloured Starling (48). (Very large flocks.)
  7. The Indian Starling (49).
  8. The Grey-headed Myna (50). (Small flocks.) (The other species of
          Myna frequently, but by no means invariably, congregate in
  9. The Weaver Birds (70-73). (Small flocks.)
  10. The Munias (74-79). (Especially the Red Munia.)
  11. The Common Rose-Finch (80).
  12. The Buntings (83-85). (Feed on the ripening grain.)
  13. The Hornbills (121 and 122). (Small flocks.)
  14. The Swifts (124 and 125).
  15. The Green Parrots (132-134).
  16. The Spotted Owlet (135). (Very small flocks; probably family
  17. The Vultures (141-143). (Only when feeding on a carcase.)
  18. The Common Peafowl (170). (Small parties.)
  19. The Common and Demoiselle Cranes (177 and 179). (The Saras Crane
          _never_ goes in flocks.)
  20. The Plovers (185 and 186).
  21. The Little Stint (195).
  22. The Indian Skimmer (206).
  23. The Spoonbill (215).
  24. The Cattle Egret (223).
  25. The Night Heron (225).
  26. The Common Flamingo (226).
  27. The Geese (227 and 228).
  28. The Shoveller (230).
  29. Many of the Gulls and Terns go about in flocks.

                               V. FLIGHT

 1. _Birds of very powerful flight, i.e. birds which spend a great part
                        of the day on the wing_

  1. The Swallows and Martins (86-90). (These live on small insects which
          they catch on the wing.)
  2. The Swifts (124 and 125). (These feed in the same way as the
          swallows, but they _never_ perch. When they wish to rest they
          go to their nests.)
  3. The Pied Kingfisher (118). (This spends much of the day in fishing.
          It flies over the water and every now and again hovers on
          rapidly vibrating wings, and then drops on to its quarry in the
  4. The Osprey (140). (Obtains its food in much the same way as does the
          Pied Kingfisher.)
  5. The Fishing Eagles (148-150).
  6. The Brahminy Kite (151).
  7. The common Pariah Kite (152). (These two species spend hours in the
          air sailing in circles looking out for their quarry.)
  8. The Vultures (141-144). (These remain for hours high up in the air
          motionless on expanded wings, until one espies something to eat
          on the earth below; it then descends, and its companions,
          observing this, follow suit.)
  9. The Kestrel (162). (This behaves over land much as the Pied
          Kingfisher does over the water.)
  10. The Gulls (196-199). (Everyone is familiar with the manner in which
          gulls follow ships.)
  11. The Terns (200-206).

  2. _Birds which make little sallies into the air from a perch after

                       (_Vide_ Feeding habits, 4.)

 3. _Little birds which fly from the ground some twenty or thirty feet
         and then drop to the ground, singing as they descend_

  The Finch-Larks (104 and 105).

                           VI. FEEDING HABITS

              1. _Birds which feed largely on the ground_

  1. The Crows (1-4). (These are omnivorous, and feed anywhere and
  2. The Babblers (6-9).
  3. The Malabar Whistling Thrush (11).
  4. The Shrikes (34-37). (Descend from perch to ground, seize their
          quarry, and return to perch and devour it.)
  5. The Mynas (51-54).
  6. The Bush Chats (61-63).
  7. The Brown Rock Chats (64).
  8. The Indian Redstart (65).
  9. The Indian Robins (66 and 67).
  10. The Magpie Robin (68).
  11. The Munias (74-79).
  12. The Wagtails (91-94).
  13. The Pipits (95-96).
  14. The Larks (97-105).
  15. The Indian Pitta (109).
  16. The Indian Roller (115). (Descends from perch to ground and seizes
          its quarry and then returns to perch.)
  17. The Hoopoe (123).
  18. The Crow-Pheasant (131).
  19. The Vultures (141-145).
  20. The Common Kite (152). (Drops from the air and seizes its food in
          its talons.)
  21. The White-eyed Buzzard (147). (Swoops down from a perch on to a
          lizard, etc.)
  22. The Harriers (153-157). (Fly low and drop on to their prey.)
  23. The Kestrel (162). (Hovers on rapidly vibrating wings and drops on
          to its prey.)
  24. The Blue Rock Pigeon (165).
  25. The Doves (166-169).
  26. All game and wading birds (except those that take their food off

 2. _Birds that run up and down the trunks of trees, on which they find
                              their food_

  1. The Nuthatches (23 and 24).
  2. The Woodpeckers (110 and 111).
  3. The Common Wryneck (112).

3. _Birds that feed largely on insects which they pick off the foliage,
 sometimes hovering on vibrating wings in order to secure their quarry_

  1. The Indian White-eye (12). (Frequents trees.)
  2. The Tailor Bird (28). (Frequents bushes.)
  3. The Warblers (29-32). (Frequent bushes.)
  4. The Common Woodshrike (38). (Frequents trees).
  5. The Minivets (39-41). (Frequent trees.)
  6. The Cuckoo-Shrikes (42 and 43). (Frequent trees.)
  7. The Sunbirds (106-108). (Frequent bushes.)

 4. _Birds which feed on insects which they catch in the air by making
                      little sallies from a perch_

  1. The Drongos (25 and 26).
  2. The Flycatchers (55 and 60).
  3. The Bee-eaters (116 and 117).

5. _Birds which either catch fish or take their food off the surface of

  1. The Kingfishers (118-120).
  2. The Osprey (140).
  3. The Fishing Eagles (148-150).
  4. The Brahminy Kite (151).
  5. The Gulls (196-199).
  6. The Terns (200-205).
  7. The Indian Skimmer (206).
  8. The Pelicans (207 and 208).
  9. The Cormorants (209-211).


  1. The Tailor Bird (28).
  2. The Indian Robins (66 and 67).
  3. The Magpie Robin (68).

                                PART II
      Descriptive List of the Common Birds of the Plains of India


F. stands for _The Fauna of British India_, and the number which follows
indicates the number of the bird in _The Fauna of British India_. J.
stands for Jerdon’s _Birds of India_, and the number that follows
indicates the number of the bird in Jerdon’s work.

In describing a bird its size is a matter of importance as an aid to
identification; but as the statement that a bird is six inches in length
probably does not convey to the average person a definite idea of its
size, I have adopted another system of indicating the size of each bird
described. I have taken five standards of size, each being that of a
familiar bird, and have described each species in terms of these
standards, which are:

  I. The common sparrow, 6 inches in length.
  II. The bulbul, 8-9 inches in length.
  III. The myna, 10 inches in length.
  IV. The Indian house crow, 17½ ins. in length.
  V. The kite, 23 inches in length.

My system is as follows. If A be a bird of which the length is 5 inches,
I affix in a bracket -I, which means that is a bird smaller than a
sparrow; if it be 6 inches in length I affix simply I; if it be 7 inches
in length I affix +I, denoting that it is larger than a sparrow, but
smaller than a bulbul, and nearer to the sparrow than the bulbul in
dimensions; had its length been 7½ inches I should have described it as
-II, i.e. rather smaller than a bulbul. By these means he who consults
this book will at once be able to form a rough conception of the size of
each species described. Those who desire more details will find them in
_The Fauna of British India_. In this connection it is worthy of mention
that certain small birds, as, for example, the adult cock paradise
flycatcher, have very long tails. Such a bird, if measured from the tip
of his beak to the end of his tail (as ornithologists usually do), would
have to be described as -V, i.e. as a bird rather smaller than a kite,
but this would convey a very misleading idea of the magnitude of the
bird, the body of which is about the same size as that of the bulbul. I
shall accordingly describe the paradise flycatcher as II, i.e. a bird of
the same size as the bulbul, but shall note that the cock has a very long

In cases where birds build very characteristic nests or have very
characteristic songs or habits, I shall mention these as aids to
identification. It must be remembered that this little book is not a
natural history of birds, but merely a key to the identification of our
commoner Indian feathered friends. Having identified a bird, the reader
should refer to some other writer for information regarding its habits,

In order to simplify identification I shall roughly indicate the
distribution of each species. If nothing is said about the distribution
of any bird this means that it may be found anywhere in the plains of
India. If a species occurs in all parts save one or more the words “Not
found in ——” will occur in the description. If the distribution be local,
the description will contain the words “Found in ——.”

As a further aid to identification I have, in all cases in which a
species has been figured in any book which is easily procurable, stated
where the picture of the bird is to be found. Most stations in India
boast of a library of sorts, which is likely to contain some, at any
rate, of the books referred to. In order to save space I have used
abbreviations for the titles. Thus (Illus. F. I., p. 298) means that a
picture of the bird in question will be found on page 298 of Volume I of
the bird volume of _The Fauna of British India_.

                      _List of abbreviations used_

  B. B. _The Common Birds of Bombay_, by Eha.
  B. C. _The Birds of Calcutta_ (2nd Edition), by Finn.
  B. D. _Bombay Ducks_, by Dewar.
  B. P. _Birds of the Plains_, by Dewar.
  F. I. _Fauna of British India_ (Birds, Vol. I.).
  F. II. Ditto, ditto, Vol. II.
  F. III. Ditto, ditto, Vol. III.
  F. IV. Ditto, ditto, Vol. IV.
  G. B. _Garden and Aviary Birds of India_, by Finn.
  I. F. _Some Indian Friends and Acquaintances_, by Cunningham.
  I. D. _Indian Ducks and Their Allies_, by Stuart Baker.
  I. G. I. _Game Birds of India, Burma, and Ceylon_, Vol. I., Marshall
          and Hume.
  I. G. II. Ditto, ditto, ditto, Vol. II.
  I. G. III. Ditto, ditto, ditto, Vol. III.

                            _The Crows_, 1-4

1. _Corvus machrorhynchus_: The Jungle Crow or the Indian Corby. (F. 4),
(J. 660), (+IV.)

Glossy black all over. Nests from March to May. Nest a large structure
placed high up in a tree. Not found in the N.W. Punjab, where it is
replaced by the next species. (Illus. B. D., p. 60; also B. B., p. 117,
and I. F., p. 61.)

2. _Corvus corax_: The Raven. (F. 1), (J. 657), (V.)

Glossy black all over. Found only in the N.W.F. province and the western
parts of the Punjab.

3. _Corvus splendens_: The Indian House Crow, or the Grey-necked Crow.
(F. 7), (J. 663), (IV.)

Like a jackdaw in marking and appearance. Glossy black, except for nape,
neck, upper back and breast, which are ashy brown. (The hue of this ashy
brown varies considerably with the locality, being lightest in the
Punjab.) Nesting season May to July, or later. Nest like that of 1. In
Burma this species is replaced by the next. (Illus. B. D., p. 168; also
B. P., p. 190, and B. B., p. 117.)

4. _Corvus insolens_: The Burmese House Crow. (F. 8), (IV.)

A form of _C. splendens_ in which the neck plumage is nearly as dark as
that of the other parts.

5. _Dendrocitta rufa_: The Indian Tree-pie. (F. 16), (J. 674), (+II, but
with tail a foot in length.)

Head, neck, and breast brownish black; body chestnut; silver-grey on the
wings. Tail greyish with broad black band at the tip. During flight the
tail assumes a curious shape owing to the fact that the feathers which
compose it are graduated in length; the median pair is twelve inches
long, the next pair is shorter, and so on, the outer pair being only
about half the length of the median pair. This bird has a curious
metallic call which may be syllabised _coch-lee, coch-lee_, or _cogee,
cogee_. It also emits a great variety of harsh cries. Breeds from April
to August. The nest is a large cup high up in a tree.

(Does not appear to occur in or about the towns of Bombay and Madras.)
(Illus. B. C., p. 10, but the illustration is not a good one, a better
idea is given in F. I., p. 10, where an allied species is figured.)

                          _The Babblers_, 6-10

6. _Argya caudata_: The Common Babbler, or Striated Bush-babbler, or
Rat-bird. (F. 105), (J. 438), (II.)

A dingy brown bird; upper plumage darker than the lower. In each feather
there is a dark line along the shaft which causes the bird to have a
streaked appearance. It goes about in pairs, or in small flocks. It feeds
largely on the ground. When it runs, its tail (which is about 4½ inches
long, i.e. half the total length of the bird) seems to trail on the
ground like that of a rat, hence one of its names. Its note is not
unpleasant. It nests chiefly in the hot weather. The nursery is a neatly
constructed cup, which is invariably placed in a low bush. Its eggs are
pale blue.

Does not appear to occur in the neighbourhood of Calcutta, Bombay, or
Madras. Addicted to arid parts of India.

7-9. _The Crateropus Babblers, or “Seven Sisters.”_

These are all untidy-looking, earthy-brown birds about the size of mynas.
They go about in little flocks, whence the name “Seven Sisters,” or
“_Sath Bhai_.” They feed largely on the ground, seeking for insects among
dead leaves. While feeding they keep up a constant chatter which every
now and then grows very loud, sounding like a combination of a squeak and
the groans of a revolving axle that requires to be oiled. They
continually jerk the tail, which has the appearance of being very loosely
inserted. So untidy-looking are these birds that Eha likens them to “Old
Jones, who spends the day in his pyjamas.” Their flight is feeble and
laborious. Three species are common:

7. _Crateropus canorus_: The Jungle Babbler. (F. 110), (J. 432), (III.)

This bird is abundant in Northern India, and becomes rarer in the south,
where it is largely replaced in the plains by the two next species.
(Illus. B. C., p. 15.)

  At Allahabad the Large Grey Babbler (_Argya malcomi_) (F. 107) or
  _Gangai_, is more abundant even than _C. canorus_. It may be recognised
  by its long tail. The three outer pairs of tail feathers are white—very
  conspicuous during flight. The note is a loud harsh _quey, quey, quey_.
  The bird is commoner than I thought. It occurs in most districts of the

8. _Crateropus griseus_: The White-headed Babbler. (F. 111), (J. 433),

This is the common babbler of the Madras presidency. It is easily
recognised by the greyish white crown of its head. (Illus. B. D., p.

9. _Crateropus somervillii_: The Rufous-tailed Babbler. (F. 113), (J.
435), (III.)

The common babbler of Bombay and Poona. It is the least untidy-looking of
the babblers, and may be recognised by the distinctly reddish hue of its

All three species of babblers build neat cup-shaped nests not far above
the ground and lay beautiful blue eggs. (Illus. B. B., p. 80.)

10. _Pyctorhis sinensis_: The Yellow-eyed Babbler. (F. 139), (J. 385),

This is considerably smaller than the other babblers described. Its
general colour is cinnamon brown. The eyebrows, throat, and breast are
white. The under parts are cream-coloured. The eye is bright yellow. It
emits a sweet note and builds a beautiful nest. This last is in shape not
unlike the hat worn by a political officer in full dress. It measures
about five inches in depth and is usually slung by its broadest part on
to two or more growing reeds, heads of millet, stout grass stems, or
perhaps more frequently to a forked branch.

11. _Myiophoneus horsfieldi_: The Malabar Whistling Thrush, or Idle
Schoolboy. (F. 189), (J. 342), (+III.)

A black bird with large cobalt blue patches on the forehead and the
wings. Small patches of the same hue occur on other parts of the body.

Not found in the N.W. Frontier Province, the Punjab, United Provinces,
Bengal, or the eastern portion of Madras. Usually occurs in the
neighbourhood of shaded streams. Its note is a striking whistle.

12. _Zosterops palpebrosa_: The Indian White-eye, or Spectacle Bird. (F.
226), (J. 631), (-I.)

A greenish yellow bird, with bright yellow throat and a patch of yellow
under the tail. The rest of the lower plumage is greyish white. The most
noticeable feature of the bird is a ring of white feathers round the eye.
Hence its popular name. White-eyes go about in large flocks; they feed
largely on insects which they pick from off the leaves of trees. Each
individual utters unceasingly a cheeping note. At the nesting season,
which is usually at the beginning of the hot weather, the cock sings a
sweet little song. The nest is a beautiful little cup suspended from a
forked branch. Two pale blue eggs are usually laid. (Illus. G. B., p.

13. _Ægithina tiphia_: The Common Iora. (F. 243), (J. 468), (-I.)

_Cock_: (_a_) In summer upper plumage, wings, and tail are black; lower
parts bright yellow. There are two white bars in the wing.

(_b_) In winter the black parts of the head and back are replaced by
yellowish green.

_Hen_: Upper parts, wings, and tail green; lower parts yellow. Two white
bars in the wing.

This species has a sweet song. It does not occur in the Frontier Province
or the Punjab. “A little bird,” writes Eha, “like a tomtit, in black and
yellow, followed by its mate in green and yellow, can be nothing else
than the Iora.” Builds at the beginning of the hot weather a very neat
and tiny cup-shaped nest. (Illus. B. B., p. 91, also G. B., p. 64.)

                          _The Bulbuls_, 14-22

14. _Chloropsis Jerdoni._ The Common Green Bulbul, or Jerdon’s
Chloropsis. (F. 252), (J. 463), (-II.)

A beautiful emerald green bird. There is a patch of yellow on the
forehead. The cock has the sides of the head, chin, and throat black, and
a purple-blue moustache. The black of the male is replaced by bluish
green in the hen.

Does not occur in the Frontier Province, the Punjab, Rajputana, Bengal,
or the northern and western portions of the United Provinces. It is
essentially a bird of Central and Southern India, but rare on the east
coast. It affects well-wooded parts of the country. (Illus. G. B., p.

                    _The Red-vented Bulbuls_, 15-18

Head black with short crest; remainder of plumage brown, each feather
having a narrow margin of a lighter hue. The tail is tipped with white,
and there is a white patch above the tail. A conspicuous crimson patch
under the tail. Bulbuls go about in pairs and constantly emit a cheery
note. They build neat cup-shaped nests, frequently in plants in the
verandahs of houses. When the nest is approached by a human being the
parent birds set up a loud chattering. These bulbuls occur all over
India, but ornithologists divide them into several species:

15. _Molpastes hæmorrhous_: The Madras Red-vented Bulbul. (F. 278), (J.
462), (II.)

The common bulbul of South India, as far North as Lucknow. (Illus. B. D.,
p. 296; also B. B., p. 87.)

16. _Molpastes burmanicus_: The Burmese Red-vented Bulbul. (F. 279),

The common bulbul of Burma.

17. _Molpastes bengalensis_: The Bengal Red-vented Bulbul. (F. 282), (J.
461), (II.)

The common bulbul of Eastern Oudh, the Bengals, and Assam. (Illus. B. C.,
p. 22.)

18. _Molpastes intermedius_: The Punjab Red-vented Bulbul. (F. 283), (J.
II., p. 95) (II.)

The common bulbul of the Frontier Province, the Punjab, and the province
of Agra.

[At the points where the various species or races of red-vented bulbuls
meet they interbreed, so that at Lucknow and other points of junction it
is not possible to assign the local bulbuls to any of the above species.]

19. _Molpastes leucotis_: The White-eared Bulbul. (F. 285), (J. 459),

This species differs from the Red-vented Bulbuls in its somewhat smaller
size, its shorter crest and in having a large white patch on each side of
the head, and the patch of feathers under the tail yellow instead of

Found only in the north-west portion of India. In the cold weather its
range extends into the Province of Agra and the C. P., but in the spring
it migrates to the west and breeds in Sind, the Frontier Province, and
the Western Districts of the Punjab. Its nests have also been taken in
Rajputana, Katywar, and Cutch. (Illus. G. B., p. 96; also F. I., p. 252.)

                _The Red-whiskered Bulbuls,_ 20 _and_ 21

These sprightly and handsome birds are characterised by their long
crests, which end in a point and project forward, like Mr. Punch’s cap.
The head and crest are black, but each cheek is characterised by a large
white and a small crimson patch, hence the name “red-whiskered.” The
upper plumage is earthy brown. The tail feathers are somewhat darker
brown and are tipped with white. The breast and lower plumage are white.
The breast is separated from the abdomen by a conspicuous band of black
feathers known as the collaret. There is a crimson patch of feathers
under the tail.

20. _Otocompsa emeria_: The Bengal Red-whiskered Bulbul. (F. 288), (J.
460), (II.)

Found in Northern and Eastern India, and Burma. (Illus. B. P., p. 230;
also B. C., p. 26.)

21. _Otocompsa fuscicaudata_: The Southern Red-whiskered Bulbul. (F.
289), (J. 460), (II.)

Found chiefly in the south-western portion of India, more especially in
the hills. This is the common bulbul of all our South-Indian hill

This species is distinguishable from _Emeria_ in that it has a complete
collaret. In _Emeria_ the black collaret is interrupted in front.

Both the _Molpastes_ and the _Otocompsa_ bulbuls build neat cup-shaped
nests in trees and shrubs in gardens. Not infrequently they nest in
plants growing in pots placed in the verandah. (Illus. B. D., p. 296;
also B. B., p. 87.)

22. _Pycnonotus luteolus_: The White-browed Bulbul. (F. 305), (J. 452),

A dull greenish brown bird, having no crest. It has a white eyebrow, and
the patch of feathers under the tail is pale yellow.

It occurs only in Southern India and is exceedingly common in the
vicinity of Madras. It frequents gardens and utters a variety of very
cheery little notes, and has, therefore, been called “the blithest little
bird in existence.” It does not show itself very much in the open, being
heard much more frequently than seen. It builds a cup-shaped nest in a
bush or low tree.

                     _The Nuthatches_, 23 _and_ 24

Nuthatches are little climbing birds characterised by very short tails.
They go about in small flocks and run up and down the trunks and branches
of trees with great address, picking up small insects. They also, as
their name implies, feed upon nuts. They nest in holes of trees,
frequently closing up a portion of the aperture with mud. (Illus. F. I.,
p. 298.)

23. _Sitta castaneiventris_: The Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch. (F. 321), (J.
250), (-I.)

Upper plumage dark greyish blue. A broad black band runs from the beak,
through the eye and down the side of the head. The other parts of the
cheek are white. The lower plumage is dark chestnut-red, as denoted by
the popular name of the bird. (The lower parts of the hen are of a
lighter hue.) Distribution: U. P., C. P., C. I., and western parts of

24. _Sitta frontalis_: The Velvet-fronted Blue Nuthatch. (F. 325), (J.
253), (-I.)

Upper plumage dark blue, the cock having a velvet-like black forehead and
a black streak through the eye; throat whitish; lower parts greyish.

Not found in the Punjab.

                          _The Drongos_, 25-27

25. _Dicrurus ater_: The Black Drongo, or King Crow. (F. 327), (J. 278),
(II, but with a tail six inches long.)

Jet black all over, with a long-forked tail. One of the most familiar of
Indian birds. It frequently perches on telegraph wires, or on the backs
of cattle. It makes little flights after insects and then returns to its
perch. Its call is very cheery and is heard most often at earliest dawn.

It breeds in the hot weather; the nest is a small cup, wedged into the
fork of a lofty branch. The oriole and the dove frequently nest in the
same tree.

Found all over India, but only a summer visitor to the Frontier Province
and the Western Punjab, and a winter visitor to Assam. (Illus. B. D.,
frontispiece; also I. F., p. 148, and B. B., p. 1.)

26. _Dicrurus cærulescens_: The White-bellied Drongo. (F. 330), (J. 281),
(II, but with long-forked tail.)

Very like the King Crow (No. 25) in appearance, save that it is a little
smaller and its plumage is deep indigo instead of glossy black (but it
looks black from a distance). The breast is grey and the abdomen white.

This bird, although nowhere common in India, is found in all parts save
the N.W. F. P., the Punjab, and the eastern portion of Bengal.

27. _Dissemurus paradiseus_: The Larger Racket-tailed Drongo. (F. 340),
(J. 284), (II, but with a tail 20 inches long.)

Glossy black all over. The head is decorated by a large
backwardly-directed crest. The two outer tail feathers are a foot and a
half in length; on the inner side of the shaft there is scarcely any web,
while the web on the outer shaft grows longer as it nears the tip of the
feather. These elongated outer feathers are turned upwards and outwards
at the tip.

Confined almost entirely to forests, and hence is very rarely seen in the

                         _The Warblers_, 28-33

28. _Orthotomus sutorius_: The Indian Tailor Bird. (F. 374), (J. 530),

A tiny brownie bird not unlike a wren with a respectable tail. Close
inspection shows that the forehead is reddish, the back of the head grey,
and the back brown, tinged with green. The lower plumage is dirty creamy
white. There is a short black bar on each side of the neck, visible only
when the bird stretches its neck to utter its note, but as the bird is
continually calling loudly _to-wee, to-wee, to-wee_, a little watching
will soon reveal the black patch on the side of the neck.

In the hot weather the two middle tail feathers of the cock exceed the
others in length by fully two inches. These projecting, bristle-like tail
feathers render it very easy to recognise the cock tailor bird in
breeding plumage.

The tailor bird is essentially a denizen of the compound, and frequently
nests in the verandah. The nest is a wonderful structure. The walls are
growing leaves, the edges of which the bird draws together by means of
cotton or fibre. The nest is cosily lined with cotton-down. The tailor
bird pierces in places the leafy wall of its nest and pushes some of the
lining through these tiny apertures in order to keep the lining _in
situ_. The nest should be looked for in the hot weather. (Illus. B. B.,
p. 103; also G. B., p. 64.)

29. _Hypolais rama_: Sykes’s Tree-warbler. (F. 394), (J. 553), (-I.)

This, too, is a dull-coloured little brownie bird. It visits India in
great numbers in the winter, and is said to breed in Sind. In colouring
it is much like the tailor bird, but it is more solidly built and has a
narrow cream-coloured eyebrow. A little brown bird which is not the
tailor bird, or one of the wren-warblers described below, is likely to be
this species.

30. _Prinia lepida_: The Streaked Wren-warbler. (F. 462), (J. 550), (-I.)

Brown above and cream-coloured below. This little bird is easily
distinguished from the other long-tailed wrens, by the fact that its
upper plumage is streaked with dark brown. The brown tail shows cross
bars. The tip of each tail feather is white and next to this is a black

This bird is common in the Punjab and in Sind. It also occurs in
Rajputana and in the valley of the Ganges.

It builds a neat ball-like nest with an entrance at the side. The nest is
usually situated at a few inches from the ground. Several are to be found
in April and May amid the wild indigo that grows on the Lahore golf
links. The green eggs have a distinct ring of reddish dots at the thick

31. _Prinia socialis_: The Ashy Wren-warbler. (F. 464), (J. 534), (-I.)

Another “tiny brownie bird.” Ashy upper plumage with brown wings and
tail, lower plumage cream-coloured. A very slender and loosely-knit bird.
It is easily distinguished by the curious snapping noise it makes as it
flits from bush to bush. How this noise is made we do not know. It sounds
as though it were due to the upper and lower mandibles of the beak
closing sharply together.

This species constructs two types of nests—one is like that of the Tailor
Bird (No. 28), the other is a ball-like woven structure with an entrance
at the side. The nest is invariably placed near the ground. The eggs are
mahogany red. Does not occur in the N.W. F. P.

32. _Prinia inornata_: The Indian Wren-warbler. This bird is known as the
weaver-bird to boys who attend Indian schools. (F. 466), (J. 543), (-I.)

This species differs so little in appearance from the last that except
for the snapping noise it is almost impossible to distinguish them unless
held in the hand and compared. This species has rusty-coloured thighs,
and these may serve to distinguish it from the last species.

It builds a nicely-woven ball-like nest, which is frequently attached to
growing corn, and the parent birds sometimes have their work cut out in
rearing up their brood before the crop is cut. Eggs greenish with red and
brown blotches.

Found in N. India. At the Nilgiris this species meets the next.

33. _Prinia Jerdoni_: The Southern Wren-warbler. (F. 467), (J. 544),

This is the South Indian form of No. 32, and has very much the same
habits and appearance as the last species. (Illus. B. B., p. 103.)

                 _The Shrikes, or Butcher Birds_, 34-37

The shrikes form a well-marked family of birds. Their habit is to sit on
an exposed perch and from thence pounce on to some insect on the ground.
Thus their habits are like those of some birds of prey. Their hooked and
notched beaks and the broad black band that runs from the base of the
beak through the eye gives them a very sinister appearance. They have a
variety of notes.

34. _Lanius lahtora_: The Indian Grey Shrike. (F. 469), (J. 256), (+II.)

Upper parts French grey; forehead black; broad black band from base of
beak, through eye and down the side of the neck. Tail black and white;
wings black with conspicuous white bar. Breast and lower plumage white.

Sind, Punjab, U. P., C. P., and Western Bengal.

The nest of this and of the other species of butcher bird is a deep cup,
placed usually in a thorny tree, often close up against the trunk. Not
infrequently bits of rag hang down from the nest and serve to locate its
whereabouts. The eggs have a stone-coloured background with brownish
blotches, which often form a ring near the large end. (Illus. B. B., p.
70; also F. I., p. 454.)

35. _Lanius vittatus_: The Bay-backed Shrike. (F. 473), (J. 260), (-II.)

Forehead and broad band through the eye black. Head pale grey, back
maroon, rump white; wings black with a white bar, which is conspicuous
during flight. Tail black and white, median feathers black, outer ones
white; lower parts white with a reddish-yellow tinge on the breast.

36. _Lanius erythronotus_: The Rufous-backed Shrike. (F. 476), (J. 257),

Although larger than the last species, this bird is very like it in
colouring. It may, however, be distinguished by the fact that it has no
white in the tail. The rump is the same colour as the lower back and not
white as in 35.

37. _Lanius cristatus_: The Brown Shrike. (F. 481), (J. 261), (-II.)

This species is distinguishable from the above three shrikes by the fact
that it lacks the white wing bar which makes the others so conspicuous
during flight. A reddish-brown bird with white cheeks and throat and a
whitish eyebrow.

Unlike the other butcher birds this species is merely a winter visitor to
India. It spreads itself over all parts of the country save the N.W. F.
P. and the Punjab. (A few individuals are said to remain in India to

It has a harsh chattering note, which it utters incessantly. It is
regarded in Calcutta as the herald of the cold weather. (Illus. G. B., p.

38. _Tephrodornis pondicerianus_: The Common Woodshrike. (F. 488), (J.
265), (+I.)

An ashy-brown bird, having a broad white eyebrow and the outer tail
feathers white. Occurs chiefly in gardens and avenues. It is most easily
recognised by its pretty mellow note, which Jesse syllabises as

                         _The Minivets_, 39-41

Minivets are brightly coloured little birds, which usually go about in
small flocks, picking insects from off the leaves of trees. They build
neat cup-shaped nests, which are usually placed on a horizontal branch.
The nest is difficult to find, as when seen from below it looks like a
knot in the branch. The flocks lead a wandering existence.

39. _Pericrocotus speciosus_: The Indian Scarlet Minivet. (F. 490), (J.
271), (I, but with tail of 4½ inches long.)

_Cock_: A beautiful bird arrayed in bright scarlet and black. The head
and shoulders are black, the back and lower parts scarlet. The wings are
black with a scarlet bar running along (and not, as is usual, across) the
wing. Tail feathers scarlet except the median pair, which are black.

_Hen_: Head and body bright yellow, wings black with longitudinal yellow
bar. Tail yellow and black.

Occurs in U. P., Bengal, Assam, and C. P.

40. _Pericrocotus brevirostris_: The short-billed Minivet. (F. 495), (J.
273), (-I, but with tail 4 inches long.)

Very much like the Scarlet Minivet (39) in appearance, save that the red
of the cock is crimson rather than scarlet.

Occurs in Punjab, Rajputana, U. P., Bengal, Assam and C. P. (Illus. G.
B., p. 64.)

41. _Pericrocotus peregrinus_: The Small Minivet. (F. 500), (J. 276),
(-I, tail 3 inches long.)

_Cock_: Head and shoulders slaty grey, lower back deep scarlet, wings
black with red bar, tail black with red at tip, chin and throat blackish,
breast scarlet; lower plumage orange-yellow.

_Hen_: Upper parts grey, lower parts creamy white, wing brown with yellow
or orange wing-bar, tail black with red tip.

Not found in the N.W. F. P.

                   _The Cuckoo-Shrikes_, 42 _and_ 43

42. _Campophaga sykesi_: The Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrike. (F. 508), (J.
268), (-II.)

_Cock_: Head, throat, and breast black; rest of plumage grey shading into
white on the abdomen; tail black with broad white tip.

_Hen_: Upper parts grey, lower parts whitish with narrow black cross
bars, tail as in cock. This species goes about in small flocks, is
strictly arboreal, and has many of the habits of the minivets.

Not found in Punjab or N.W. F. P.

43. _Graucalus macii_: The Large Cuckoo-Shrike. (F. 510), (J. 270),

A large pale slaty-grey bird with a black patch in front of the eye. The
lower parts are paler than the upper parts and often exhibit more or less
distinct narrow black cross bars; habits as above.

Found all over India, but rare in the N.W. portion of the peninsula.

Neither 42 or 43 are very common birds.

                       _The Orioles_, 44 _and_ 45

44. _Oriolus kundoo_: The Indian Oriole, or Mango Bird. (F. 518), (J.
470), (-III.)

_Cock_: A bright yellow bird with a pink beak and red eyes. There is some
black on the sides of the head and in the wings and the tail. During
flight this bird looks like a flash of gold.

_Hen_: Of duller hue than the cock, with greenish back.

A strictly arboreal species. The note is a soft, rich, mellow _peeho,

The nest is a wonderful structure—a large cup slung like a hammock or
prawn net on the fork of a bow, usually placed in one of the lower
branches of a lofty tree, but out of reach of a human being. This species
very frequently builds in the same tree as the King Crow. The eggs are
pale pink, with chocolate blotches, which wash off.

This bird is not found in Eastern Bengal, or in the eastern portion of
Bengal proper. It is found all the year round in most parts of India, but
is merely a summer visitor to the Punjab, N.W. F. P., and the Himalayas.

45. _Oriolus melanocephalus_: The Black-headed Oriole. (F. 521), (J. 472
and 473), (-III.)

Very much like the last species, but is distinguishable by having the
whole head, chin, throat, and upper breast black.

Not found in the Punjab, or N.W. F. P., or in the Himalayas. (Illus. G.
B., p. 16; also I. F., p. 128.)

               _The Grackles, or Hill Mynas_, 46 _and_ 47

As these birds are almost exclusively confined to hilly and well-wooded
regions they can scarcely be numbered among the common birds of the
plains of India; but as they are so very frequently seen in cages, I
mention them.

They are larger than the common myna, but have a much shorter tail. They
are glossy black birds with a conspicuous white wing bar. Beak
orange-yellow, legs pale yellow. Their most conspicuous feature is the
pair of yellow wattles.

46. _Eulabes religiosa_: The Southern Grackle. (F. 523), (J. 692), (III.)

Found only in S. India.

47. _Eulabes intermedia_: The Indian Grackle. (F. 524), (J. 693), (+III.)

Found in the Himalayas and C. P.

                         _The Starlings_, 48-54

48. _Pastor roseus_: The Rose-coloured Starling, or Jowaree Bird, or
Tilyer. (F. 528), (J. 690), (+III.)

_Cock_: Head, throat, wings, and tail glossy black; rest of plumage
rose-coloured pink.

_Hens and young cocks_: In these the pink is replaced by a pinkish grey,
or pale coffee-coloured hue. The great majority of birds one sees in
India are hens or young cocks. The head is crested, but the black crest
rests flat on the head, so that it is not noticeable.

Rosy starlings do not breed in India, although individuals may be seen in
all months of the year. The birds are most abundant in the winter.
Preparatory to leaving the country for breeding purposes rosy starlings
congregate in huge flocks in April and May. These flocks do much damage
to the grain, and hence are known as _Jowaree_ and _Cholum_ birds. They
are also very partial to mulberries, and are therefore sometimes known as
Mulberry birds. (B. D., p. 86.)

49. _Sturnus menzbieri_: The Common Indian Starling. (F. 532), (J. 681),

Very like the common English starling in appearance. Glossy black with
numbers of small yellow or buff spots; in certain lights it shows a green
or bronze sheen.

A winter visitor to Northern India. Abundant in the Punjab during the
cold weather, where it is usually seen in flocks.

50. _Sturnia malabarica_: The Grey-headed Myna. (F. 538), (J. 688), (II.)

Head pale grey, chin almost white, rest of upper plumage dark grey with a
reddish tinge, throat and breast reddish grey with a white shaft to each
feather; remainder of lower plumage rusty red. Beak greenish blue with
yellow tip.

Not found in Sind, N.W. F. P., or the Punjab. In the other parts of India
it undergoes local migration. I have seen it in Madras only in the cold

This is the most arboreal of the mynas, rarely if ever descending to the
ground, and frequenting the topmost branches of trees. It associates in
small flocks. Its note is a harsh chuckle.

51. _Temenuchus pagodarum_: The Black-headed or Brahminy Myna, or Pawai.
(F. 544), (J. 687), (+II.)

Head, neck, and lower plumage rich buff; wings black and grey; tail
feathers brown with white tips; crest black. The long crest rests flat on
the neck and looks like a pig-tail, having a silky hair-like appearance.
Beak blue with yellow tip. Legs bright yellow.

Like most other mynas this species nests in a hole. In this case the
nest-hole is usually in some building or tree. An unpleasant odour
emanates from the nest.

This bird and No. 50 are very alike in shape and colouring, the most
noticeable difference being in the colour of the head and crest and of
the legs.

Not found in Eastern Bengal, the N.W. F. P., or the western portion of
the Punjab. (Illus. B. D., p. 82; also B. B., p. 124.)

52. _Acridotheres tristis_: The Common Myna. (F. 549), (J. 684), (III.)

One of the most familiar of our Indian birds. Head, neck, and upper
breast black; rest of body plumage rich brown; wings black, showing a
very conspicuous white bar during flight. Tail feathers black with broad
white tips, visible during flight. Beak and legs bright yellow; bright
yellow patch of skin behind eye.

This bird is found in every garden in India. It feeds largely on the

It is a noisy bird. Eha describes its notes as “_Keeky, keeky, keeky . .
. churr, churr, kok, kok, kok_. Each time it says _kok_ it points to the
ground with its beak and bobs its head.” (Illus. B. D., p. 84; also F.
I., p. 516, and B. C., p. 44.)

53. _Acridotheres ginginianus_: The Bank or Well Myna. (F. 551), (J.
685), (-III.)

Very like 51 in shape, but its prevailing tint is grey instead of brown.
The wing bar and the tips of the tail feathers are buff instead of white,
and the patch of skin behind the eye is crimson instead of yellow.

Not found in S. India.

It goes about in flocks and nests in holes in river banks or wells, hence
its popular name.

54. _Sturnopastor contra._ The Pied Myna. (F. 555), (J. 683), (-III.)

A black bird, white cheeks and rump, and white bar at base of wing; lower
parts grey. Beak orange with white tip; orange patch of skin behind the

This bird differs from the other mynas in that it builds a large nest in
a tree, usually at no great altitude.

Occurs only in U. P., C. P., the Bengals, and Assam. (Illus. G. B., p.

                        _The Flycatchers_, 55-60

Flycatchers are birds which feed exclusively on insects, which they catch
upon the wing. Their habit is to make, from some perch, little sallies
into the air after their quarry. It must, however, not be forgotten that
birds other than flycatchers, as, for example, the king crow and the
wagtails, also hunt for insects in this manner; so that it is not safe to
set down a bird as a flycatcher merely because it makes little sallies
into the air after insect quarry.

A considerable number of species of flycatcher occur in India, but the
great majority of them are confined to the hills. The following, however,
are likely to be seen in the plains, Nos. 57-60 being especially

55. _Alseonax latirostris._ The Brown Flycatcher. (F. 588), (J. 297),

An ashy-brown bird; tail darker than body, lower parts white,
inconspicuous ring of white feathers round the eye. Not a very common

Not found in N.W. F. P., Punjab, Sind, or Rajputana.

A little brown bird with a short tail, that makes a sally into the air
after an insect, and then returns to its perch, is probably this species.

56. _Culicicapa ceylonensis_: The Grey-headed Flycatcher. (F. 592), (J.
295), (-I.)

Head, neck, and breast ash-coloured. Back greenish yellow; wings and tail
dark brown. Lower plumage dull yellow.

A winter visitor to the plains. Not likely to be seen in N.W. India.

57. _Terspiphone paradisi_: The Indian Paradise Flycatcher, also known as
the Ribbon Bird and the Widow Bird. (F. 598), (J. 288), (II, but the cock
has a very long tail.)

One of the most beautiful birds in India.

_Hen and young cock_: Like a bulbul in size and form. Rich chestnut
plumage with metallic black crest and head; lower parts white. Bill
bluish black. Legs slate-coloured.

_Second year cock_: Similar to above, except that the two median tail
feathers are much longer than the others, being 16 inches in length.

_Old cocks_: The chestnut parts of the plumage turn white.

This bird undergoes a certain amount of local migration. It visits the
Punjab in great numbers in summer for nesting purposes. The nest is like
an inverted cone in shape, and is usually placed on one of the lower
branches of a tree. The white cock shares the duties of incubation, and
as he sits, his long white tail feathers hang down several inches beyond
the bottom of the nest.

The bird frequently utters a sharp note something like the twitter of a
sparrow. The cock has also a sweet little song.

In Burma this species is replaced by an allied species—the Burmese
Paradise Flycatcher (_T. affinis_). (Illus. F. II., p. 1; also B. B., p.
76, and G. B. frontispiece.)

                    _The Fantail Flycatchers_, 58-60

These are blackish-brown birds, with a conspicuous white eyebrow. There
are some white spots in the wing. The tail feathers are tipped with
white, and as the bird continually spreads its tail into a fan the white
is very conspicuous. The lower plumage is white. These birds have a
striking and very cheery song of about six notes, which they utter
constantly. They are easily recognised by their “tinkling” song and by
the manner in which they continually fan the tail, drop the wings, and
dance; or, to use Eha’s words, “waltz and pirouette among the lower
branches of a shady mango tree.” Three species are common, and have
similar manners and appearance. The nest is either a neat cup or an
inverted cone, built largely of cobweb on one of the lower branches of a
tree. When they have a nest these flycatchers are very bold. They will
set upon and drive away birds much larger than themselves, and will even
offer to attack an intruding human being. The three species are
distinguished as follows:

58. _Rhipidura albifrontata_: The white-browed Fantail Flycatcher. (F.
604), (J. 292), (+I.)

Distinguished by its very broad white eyebrow and forehead. The common
species of N. India. Nest a cup.

59. _Rhipidura albicollis_: The White-throated Fantail Flycatcher. (F.
605), (J. 291), (+I.)

Distinguished from 58 by the black forehead and narrow white eyebrow, and
from 60 by the black abdomen. Nest an inverted cone. The common fantail
of S. and E. India.

60. _Rhipidura pectoralis_: The White-spotted Fantail Flycatcher (F.
607), (J. 293), (+I.)

Distinguished from 58 by the black forehead and narrow white eyebrow, and
from 59 by the whitish abdomen. Nest cup-shaped. The common fantail of
S.W. India. (Illus. B. B., p. 76.)

                          _The Robins_, 61-69

61 and 62. _The Pied Bush Chats._

The _cock_ is a black bird (brownish in early winter), with a conspicuous
white wing patch and a white rump.

The _hen_ is a reddish-brown bird (greyish in winter), with a black tail
with a reddish patch over the tail. The hen may be distinguished from
other brownish birds by the peculiar colouring of her mate.

The nest is in a hole in the ground at the base of a tussock of long

61. _Pratincola caprata_: The Common Pied Bush Chat, or White-winged
Black Robin. (F. 608), (J. 481), (-I.)

Found in N. and C. India.

62. _Pratincola atrata_: The Southern Pied Bush Chat. (F. 609), (J. 482),

Found in S. India.

The above two species may perhaps be regarded as local varieties.

63. _Pratincola maura_: The Indian Bush Chat. (F. 610), (J. 483), (-I.)

_Cock_: The upper parts are reddish brown in winter (black in summer
owing to the brown edges to the feathers being worn away). Large patch of
white on each side of neck; breast orange-red, lower parts pale reddish

_Hen_: Reddish brown all over; no white neck patch.

A winter visitor to all parts of Northern India; occurs usually in open

The hens of these species of robin-like birds are very difficult to
distinguish; but as they are usually found in company with the cock it is
not as a rule difficult to assign them to their proper species.

64. _Cercomela fusca_: The Brown Rock Chat—the _Desi shama_ of Indians.
(F. 629), (J. 494), (+I.)

A dull inconspicuous brown bird. It frequents buildings and is robin-like
in its habits. As it hops about it continually bobs its head. The cock
sings a sweet little lay. The nest is made up of dried grass and placed
in a niche or on a ledge in an outhouse, or a mosque, or even an
inhabited room. It is made of dried grass and roots, and falls to pieces
if lifted from its foundation. The eggs are pale blue blotched with
reddish yellow.

Found in Punjab, Rajputana, U. P., and C. P.; very common at Lahore.

65. _Ruticilla rufiventris_: The Indian Redstart. (F. 644), (J. 497),

_Cock_: Each feather of the head, breast, and upper plumage is black,
fringed with grey, so that after the autumn moult the cock is dark grey
in these parts; but gradually the grey edges wear away, so that by the
spring the head, neck, and upper parts of the cock look black. The rump
and the feathers over the tail are reddish chestnut. The abdomen is
orange-red. All the feathers of the tail are reddish except the two
median ones, which are brown.

_Hen_: Reddish brown when the cock is grey or black; otherwise like the
cock, except that the red in her plumage is duller.

The redstart is an easy bird to identify, it behaves as though it had St.
Vitus’ dance in the tail. As it flies away all the red in its plumage
shows, so that the bird looks like a ball of fire. It feeds largely on
the ground, taking cover in bushes when alarmed. It frequents gardens.

A winter visitor to India. Very common in the north and rarer in the

66. _Thamnobia cambaiensis_: The Brown-backed Indian Robin. (F. 661), (J.
480), (+I.)

_Cock_: A glossy black bird with a brown back, a narrow white bar in the
wing, and a conspicuous patch of brick-red under the tail.

_Hen_: A sandy brown bird with a brick-red patch under the tail.

A familiar bird which haunts gardens and is very partial to dry sandy
localities. It builds a neat cup-shaped nest on window-ledges or in holes
in walls, banks, etc. It usually carries the tail raised almost
vertically and so displays the red patch. Occurs all over Northern India.
South of the Godaveri it is replaced by 67.

67. _Thamnobia fulicata_: The Black-backed Indian Robin. (F. 662), (J.
479), (+I.)

The hen of this species is scarcely distinguishable from the hen of _T.
cambaiensis_ (66). The cock differs in having the back black instead of
brown. Occurs only in S. India. (Illus. B. D., p. 294.)

68. _Copsychus saularis_: The Magpie Robin, or Dayal. (F. 663), (J. 475),

A very familiar garden bird.

_Cock_: A glossy black bird, with a white abdomen sharply marked off from
the black throat and breast. Outer tail feathers white. A conspicuous
white wing bar.

_Hen_: Marked like the cock, but greyish brown where he is black. This
species, like the last, frequently elevates the tail.

The cock has a fine song in spring. This and the magpie pattern of its
plumage cause it to be readily identified. The cock and hen pair for
life. They frequent gardens and are robin-like in habits. It nests in
holes in trees or buildings. The nest is frequently found in stables and
outhouses. (Illus. F. II., p. 56; also G. B., frontispiece, and B. B., p.

69. _Cittocincla macrura_: The Shama. (F. 664), (J. 476), (II, but with a
tail six inches long.)

A fine songster.

_Cock_: Upper plumage glossy black. Lower back white. Wings black and
white. Lower plumage chestnut red.

_Hen_: Like the cock, save that the black is replaced by slaty brown and
the reddish lower parts are much paler than in the cock.

Found only in thick jungle. (Illus. G. B., p. 40.)

                       _The Weaver Birds_, 70-73

Weaver birds are sparrow-like birds of gregarious habits. They build, or
rather weave, wonderful flask-shaped or retort-shaped nests which hang
from trees, the entrance being from below. They breed in the rains. Four
species are found in India, these are:

70. _Ploceus baya_: The Baya, or Common Weaver Bird, or Bottle Bird. (F.
720), (J. 694), (I.)

At most seasons of the year the cock and hen are reddish-brown birds with
a faint, fawn-coloured eyebrow, and look very like the hen house sparrow,
having, like her, a thick bill. The hen baya retains this plumage
throughout the year. In the hot weather, however, the head and neck of
the cock become a beautiful golden yellow, as does the breast, and the
chin turns almost black. In this plumage the cock baya is very easily

This species occurs in all parts of India except Bengal, Assam, and
Burma. In these places it is replaced by an allied species (71). (Illus.
F. II., p. 173; also B. B., p. 131.)

71. _Ploceus megarhynchus_: The Eastern Baya. (F. 721), (J. 694), (I.)

This species differs so little from (No. 70) _P. baya_, that I am
inclined to regard it as a local race of the latter species.

72. _Ploceus bengalensis_: The Black-throated Weaver-bird. (F. 722), (J.
696), (-I.)

This species is very like 70 and 71 in appearance, but may be
distinguished by (1) a yellow patch on the side of the neck, (2) the
black breast, (3) by the fact that the tubular entrance to the nest is
short and not long like that of _P. baya_ and _P. megarhynchus_.

This is a comparatively rare species and is not found in S. India.

73. _Ploceus manyar_: The Striated Weaver-bird. (F. 723), (J. 695), (I.)

This species is distinguishable from Nos. 70, 71, and 72, by having the
feathers of the breast streaked longitudinally with black.

It is found all over India, but is not nearly so commonly seen as _P.

                          _The Munias_, 74-79

Munias are diminutive birds, considerably smaller than the sparrow,
characterised by very thick bills. Except when breeding they usually go
about in flocks. The nest, which is rarely situated at any great distance
from the ground, is a large, ball-like structure, having an entrance at
the side. The eggs are white.

74. _Munia malacca_: The Black-headed Munia. (F. 725), (J. 697), (-I.)

Head and breast black, back wings and tail rich chestnut, tinged with
maroon. Abdomen white, rest of lower plumage black. Bill very pale slate

This handsome species is confined to S. India; in the north it is
replaced by a closely allied species (75).

75. _Munia atricapilla_: The Chestnut-bellied Munia. (F. 726), (J. 698),

This differs from 74 only in having the abdomen chestnut instead of

76. _Uroloncha malabarica_: The White-throated Munia (called the
_Chiruka_ in N. India). (F. 734), (J. 703), (-I.)

Jerdon’s name for this bird—the Plain Brown Munia—is much more
appropriate than that given it by Oates, for the white of the throat is
rarely, if ever, pure, being usually cream-coloured.

This is the species of munia most commonly seen, and is found in all
parts of the plains of India, save Eastern Bengal and Burma.

It is a plainly-coloured bird, the upper plumage being earthy brown save
for a white patch on the rump. The lower plumage is dirty white. It has a
twittering, sparrow-like note, syllabised by Sykes as “_cheet, cheet,
cheet_.” The feathers of the tail are graduated. This, the small size of
the bird, the white patch on the rump, the thick bill, and the note
should serve to enable the observer to identify this inconspicuous little
munia. (Illus. B. B., p. 137.)

77. _Uroloncha punctulata_: The Spotted Munia. (F. 735), (J. 699), (-I.)

This is known by bird fanciers as the Nutmeg Bird and the Spice Bird. It,
like No. 79, is one of the common cage birds of India.

Head, neck, upper plumage, wings, and tail are rich chocolate brown, that
of the head being darkest. The lower breast and abdomen are white, but
most of the feathers have each a narrow black semicircular bar, so that
the lower parts of the bird have the appearance of a nutmeg-grater: hence
one of the popular names of the bird. Bill dark slaty blue.

Does not occur in N.W. F. P. or Sind. (Illus. G. B., p. 16.)

78. _Stictospiza formosa_: The Green Munia, or Green Waxbill. (F. 737),
(J. 705), (-I.)

This beautiful little bird, which is barely two-thirds the size of the
sparrow, is frequently caged. The upper plumage and wings are light
green, brighter in the cock than in the hen; the tail is black, the lower
parts are yellow, brighter in the cock than in the hen. Bill bright red.

Distribution: Central India and Southern Bengal.

79. _Sporæginthus amandava_: The Indian Red Munia, or Red Waxbill, or
Lal, or Amadavat. (F. 738), (J. 704), (-I.)

Every aviary in India boasts one or two amadavats.

This is a tiny little bird with a bright red beak and red eyes. The
general hue of the plumage is reddish brown with patches of the richest
crimson and some tiny white spots. There is more crimson in the cock than
in the hen, and in the former in the breeding season than at other times
of the year. But in both sexes there is always a patch of crimson on the
lower rump. In full dress the cock has the whole head, upper plumage,
breast, and sides of the body crimson. As, however, the wing feathers are
brown, the little birds look brown, and not crimson, during flight. In
order to perceive the crimson they must be watched when at rest in the

They are highly gregarious and are found all over India. In Burma this
bird is replaced by an allied one (_S. flavidiventris_), having the
abdomen yellowish red instead of black. (Illus. G. B., frontispiece.)

                          _The Finches_, 80-82

These are seed-eating birds, characterised by a thick, stout bill. The
canary and the house sparrow are the most familiar examples of this

80. _Carpodacus erythninus_: The Common Rose-Finch. (F. 761), (J. 738),

_Cock_: A crimson bird, with brownish-green wings. The crimson is bright
on the breast, throat, and rump. There are two yellowish-brown bars on
the wing.

_Hen_: A greenish-brown sparrow-like bird with two conspicuous whitish
bars on the wing.

This bird is a winter visitor to the plains of Northern and Central
India, and, to some extent, S. India. Natives call it the _Tuti_. It has
a pleasing song, but is not a bird that obtrudes itself on the observer.
Unless carefully watched for it is apt to be overlooked.

Jerdon writes of this species, “It visits the plains during October, and
leaves in April. In March many are taken in fine breeding livery. In the
extreme south I have chiefly seen it in bamboo jungle, feeding on the
seeds of bamboos on several occasions, and so much is this its habit that
the Telegu name signifies ‘Bamboo sparrow.’ In other parts of the country
it frequents alike groves, gardens, and jungle, feeding on various seeds
and grain; also not infrequently on flower buds and young leaves.”

Eha does not include this species in his _Common Birds of Bombay_.
Cunningham says it is fairly common in the gardens of Calcutta during the
winter months. Jesse states that it is fairly common at Lucknow. At
Lahore I observed it only in March and April.

81. _Gymnorhis flavicollis_: The Yellow-throated Sparrow. (F. 775), (J.
711), (I.)

A near relative of the common house sparrow. In appearance it is like a
particularly tidy and slenderly built hen sparrow. It may be readily
distinguished by its having a pale yellow patch on the throat, bright in
the cock and dull in the hen.

This species frequents gardens, but is far less familiar in its behaviour
than _Passer domesticus_. It nests in holes, usually in trees.

Not found so far east as Calcutta. In the Punjab it is a summer visitor,
whither it repairs for breeding purposes.

82. _Passer domesticus_: The Common Sparrow or House Sparrow. (F. 776),
(J. 706), (I.)

Description of this familiar and ubiquitous bird is quite superfluous. I
give it merely for the sake of completeness.

_Cock_: Top of head and lower back ashy grey, throat black, cheeks and
sides of neck pure white, streak over the eye and upper back chestnut,
wings and tail brown, the former with a white bar; lower plumage dirty

_Hen_: A dull brown bird with dirty white under parts; reddish-white
eyebrow and white wing bar.

                         _The Buntings_, 83-85

The yellow-hammer, with its song of “A little bit of bread and _no_
che-e-e-ese,” has rendered the bunting clan familiar to every Englishman.
Buntings are finch-like birds with conical bills, mostly rather larger
than the sparrow.

Several species visit the plains of India in large numbers every cold
weather and wax fat on the grain crops. They occur in large noisy flocks,
making merry among the various cereal crops and taking refuge in trees
when disturbed. The species most commonly seen are _E. buchanani_, _E.
melanocephala_, and _E. luteola_.

83. _Emberiza buchanani_: The Grey-necked Bunting. (F. 795), (J. 716),

There is nothing striking in the appearance of this bird. The upper
plumage is ashy brown, the shaft of each feather being darker than the
web, giving the bird a streaked appearance. The lower parts are reddish
brown. There is some white in the tail visible only during flight. There
is an inconspicuous white ring round the eye.

This occurs only in the N.W. parts of India.

84. _Emberiza melanocephala_: The Black-headed Bunting. (F. 799), (J.
721), (+I.)

_Cock_: The feathers of the head are black with a grey border, so that
the head looks grey when the bird first reaches India in the autumn, but
gets blacker as the grey edges of the feathers become worn away. The back
and shoulders are rich chestnut, the wings and tail are brown, the cheeks
and lower plumage are deep bright yellow.

_Hen_: A brownish bird with dull yellow breast and abdomen and a bright
yellow patch under the tail. This species looks rather like a large
long-tailed weaver-bird.

Found in winter, and only in N.W. F. P., Punjab, C. P., and Bombay. It is
the species of bunting most abundant in the neighbourhood of Bombay,
where, as Eha says, it “about takes the place in India of the
yellow-hammer at home, swarming about fields and hedges and singing with
more cheer than music.” (Illus. B. B., p. 142.)

85. _Emberiza luteola_: The Red-headed Bunting. (F. 800), (J. 722), (+I.)

A greenish-brown bird, with the head in the cock a colour between that of
chestnut and old gold. Rump yellow, lower plumage yellow, bright in male
and duller in female.

Winter visitor to N.W. and Central India.

  N.B.—None of the above buntings occur in Madras.

                         _The Swallows_, 86-90

Swallows and martins form a well-marked and familiar group of birds. The
only other family with which it is possible to confound them is that of
the swifts. Anatomically the two families are far removed from one
another; but similarity of profession has brought about similarity in
outward appearance. Nevertheless, the representatives of the two families
may be distinguished at a glance as they dash through the air. “As a
swallow darts along,” writes Eha, “its wings almost close against its
sides at every stroke, and it looks like a pair of scissors opening and
shutting. Now a swift never closes its wings in this way. It whips the
air rapidly with the points of them, but they are always extended and
evenly curved from tip to tip, like a bow, the slim body of the bird
being the arrow.” Jefferies likens a flying swift to an anchor with
enormous flukes. Another difference between the swifts and the swallows
is that the former never perch on trees or wires or on the ground, while
the latter habitually seat themselves on branches of trees and telegraph

A small bird that dashes with great speed through the air, frequently
changing its course, flying now high up, now just skimming the ground,
and seeming never to tire, can be nothing other than a swift or a
swallow. By the tests given above it is easy to determine whether any
particular bird is a swift or a swallow, but having got thus far it is a
matter of greater difficulty to determine the species. (Illus. F. II., p.
267; also B. B., p. 35.)

Twenty-two species of swallow are found in India; of these the following
are most commonly seen:

86. _Cotile sinensis_: The Indian Sand-martin. (F. 809), (J. 88), (-I.)

A tiny swallow, only about two-thirds the size of the sparrow. Upper
plumage greyish brown. Chin and breast greyish white, rest of lower
plumage white.

It nests in sandbanks, frequently in company.

Occurs only in N. India.

87. _Ptyonoprogne concolor_: The Dusky Crag-martin. (F. 811), (J. 90),

Upper plumage dark brown. Some white spots on the tail. Lower plumage
dark brown, paler on the breast. The most dull-coloured of the swallows.
It builds a nest like that of the common martin—a saucer of mud stuck on
to some vertical surface, usually a cliff or the wall of a cave.

88. _Hirundo rustica_: The Common Swallow (F. 813), (J. 82), (I, but with
a deeply forked tail 4½ inches in length.)

Upper plumage glossy steel blue, wings and tail black; some white in
tail. Lower plumage reddish yellow; forehead, chin, and throat chestnut

89. _Hirundo smithii_: The Wire-tailed Swallow. (F. 818), (J. 84), (-I,
with the two outer feathers of the tail, the ends of which look like
wires, 7 inches in length.)

Head chestnut, upper plumage glossy steel blue, lower plumage pure white.

Not found in Madras or east of the U. P. Builds cup-shaped nest of mud,
usually under a bridge or culvert; sometimes in a verandah. Eggs white
with small red splashes.

90. _Hirundo erythropygia_: Sykes’s Striated Swallow, or the Red-rumped
Swallow. (F. 823), (J. 85), (-I, with a forked tail over 3 inches in

Upper parts glossy steel blue, except for the sides of the head and the
lower back; which are chestnut red. Lower plumage pale reddish yellow.

Not found in Madras, Eastern Bengal, or Burma. Nest of usual swallow
type; eggs white.

                       Key to the Common Swallows

  A.—_Tail short._
    _a._ Under parts light—_Cotile sinensis_.
    _b._ Under parts dark—_Ptyonoprogne concolor_.
  B.—_Tail long and forked._
    _a._ Chestnut red on forehead, chin, and throat—_Hirundo rustica_.
    _b._ Head only chestnut, under parts white, outer tail feathers very
          long and wire-like—_H. smithii_.
    _c._ Chestnut on lower back—_H. erythropygia_.

                         _The Wagtails_, 91-94

This family includes the wagtails and pipits. These are slenderly built
birds, whose line of flight is an undulating curve. They feed on the
ground, sometimes making little sallies into the air after their quarry,
and run with great speed. They never hop. They constantly “wag the tail,”
hence their popular name. The wagtails are distinguished from the pipits
by their brighter colouring and longer tails. Pipits are earth-coloured
birds with dark stripes along the vein of each feather.

All the wagtails except _M. maderaspatensis_ are merely winter visitors
to the plains of India.

91. _Motacilla alba_: The White Wagtail. (F. 826), (J. 591), (-II.)

General colour of plumage grey. Face, chin, and throat white, back of
head and nape black; a black patch on the breast, the remainder of the
lower plumage is white. The wings are black with much white in them. The
middle tail feathers are black, the outer ones white. [In all wagtails
the outer tail feathers are white, and show up very distinctly during

Not found in S. India. (Illus. B. B., p. 111.)

92. _Motacilla maderaspatensis_: The Large Pied Wagtail. (F. 831), (J.
589), (II.)

A black bird with a conspicuous white eyebrow. The breast and lower
plumage are white. There is a broad white bar in the wing. The outer tail
feathers are white.

The only bird with which this wagtail can possibly be confounded is the
cock magpie-robin or _Dhayal_ (68) (q.v.), but the two are easily
distinguishable by—

(1) The magpie-robin lacks the white eyebrows.

(2) The magpie-robin carries his tail erect; the wagtail never erects its

Not found in Eastern Bengal, Assam, or Burma. A permanent resident. Nests
in a hole in an old boat, a roof, a bridge, etc. The eggs are greenish
white, blotched with brown.

This wagtail is a fine songster, and may sometimes be seen sitting on a
telegraph wire pouring forth its melody. (Illus. B. D., p. 14.)

93. _Motacilla melanope_: The Grey Wagtail. (F. 832), (J. 592), (-II.)

This bird is misnamed. It has a large amount of yellow in its plumage.
For this reason Jerdon calls it the grey and yellow wagtail.

The upper parts are bluish grey, marked with yellowish green on the lower
back. Throat white, lower plumage bright yellow, wings brown, middle tail
feathers black, outer ones white.

94. _Motacilla borealis_: The Grey-headed Wagtail. (F. 833), (J. 593),

This species is so like _M. melanope_ (No. 93) that it is not easy to
differentiate between them. It is, however, generally possible to
distinguish them by the fact that in this species the chin is yellow, and
the breast is sometimes mottled with black.

                       _The Pipits_, 95 _and_ 96

95. _Anthus maculatus_: The Indian Tree-Pipit. (F. 841), (J. 596), (I.)

A dull-coloured bird like a wagtail in shape, but with a shorter tail,
which it sometimes wags in a half-hearted manner.

The upper parts are earthy brown with dark streaks. The lower parts are
creamy white with black streaks. There is a little white in the tail,
visible only during flight. It feeds on the ground, but takes refuge in a
tree when disturbed. It frequently goes about in flocks. There is nothing
striking in its appearance or habits, and so it is not easy to describe

A winter visitor. Not found in Madras. (Illus. B. B., p. 111).

96. _Anthus rufulus_: The Indian Pipit, or the Indian Tit-Lark. (F. 847),
(J. 600), (I.)

This is scarcely distinguishable from the last species (95). It has a
somewhat longer bill and longer legs. The claw of its hind toe is much
longer than that of _A. maculatus_, but this cannot be seen unless the
bird be held in the hand. This species is found all over India. Thus in
N. India in winter a bird answering to this description may be either
species, and it is only safe to set it down as a “pipit.”

                          _The Larks_, 97-103

Larks are so like pipits that it is not easy to distinguish between them
without capturing them. (Illus. F. II., p. 315.)

97. _Alauda gulgula_: The Indian Skylark. (F. 861), (J. 767), (+I.)

This is very like the above two pipits in appearance, but there is a good
deal more white in the tail. Except for its somewhat smaller size it is
indistinguishable from the English skylark, and all books on Indian
ornithology state that this bird soars up into the heavens and pours
forth its song just as the lark does in England. I must confess that this
is not my experience. I have never seen this species soar in the middle
of the day, or at any time save the very early morning.

This is a permanent resident and builds a nest on the ground like that of
the common skylark.

98. _Alaudula raytal_: The Ganges Sand-lark. (F. 866), (J. 762), (-I.)

This is distinguishable from the skylark by its smaller size and its
white under plumage.

It is a permanent resident, but is confined to the sandy beds of the
rivers of N. India. It runs about near the edge of the water.

                     _The Bush Larks_, 99 _and_ 100

These are distinguished by having no white in the tail. They frequently
perch in bushes or low trees, whence they sometimes take short flights in
the air.

99. _Mirafra assamica_: The Bengal Bush-lark. (F. 870), (J. 754), (I.)

Found in U. P., Bengal, and Assam.

  The common Bush Lark of the U.P. is not the Bengal but the Red-winged
  Bush Lark (_Mirafra erythroptera_) (F. 871) (J. 756) (-I). This is
  smaller than the Bengal species and the brown of its upper plumage is
  tinged with red.

100. _Mirafra affinis_: The Madras Bush-lark. (F. 872), (J. 755), (I.)

Found in S. India. It is common in Guindy Park.

                      _The Crested Larks_, 101-103

These are readily distinguished by the sharp-pointed crest which projects
backwards and upwards from the back of the head. They sing well and have
habits very similar to those of the skylark. No white in the tail.

101. _Galerita cristata_: The Crested Lark. (F. 874), (J. 769), (+I.)

Punjab and U. P., where it is abundant. Very common at Lahore.

102. _Galerita deva_: Sykes’s Crested Lark. (F. 875), (J. 765), (I.)

U. P., Rajputana, and C. I.

103. _Galerita malabarica_: The Malabar Crested Lark. (F. 876), (J. 768),

Bombay and Travancore.

                    _The Finch-Larks_, 104 _and_ 105

These are easily recognised by their curious habit of flying some twenty
or thirty feet into the air, then closing their wings and dropping to the
ground. As they descend they utter a curious note. They are dumpy little
birds and do not look as large as their measurements.

104. _Ammomanes phœnicura_: The Rufous-tailed Finch-Lark. (F. 877), (J.
758), (I.)

A dark brown bird, with dark red on the lower back and tail.

It is found chiefly in Central India in Bombay. In Sind and the Punjab it
is replaced by _A. phœnicuroides_ (the Desert Finch-Lark). Not found in

105. _Pyrrhulauda grisea_: The Ashy-crowned Finch-Lark. (F. 879), (J.
760), (-I.)

This is the common Finch-Lark of India, being a permanent resident
everywhere, except the N.W. F. P., Eastern Bengal, Assam, and Burma.

_Cock_: Upper parts dark ashy grey. Streak through the eye and all the
lower plumage black, cheeks and sides of breast white, so that, as Eha
points out, the black on the throat takes the form of a cross. [This very
unusual colouring, i.e. darker below than above, renders the cock easy to

_Hen_: The parts that are black in the cock are reddish brown. (Illus. B.
B., p. 142.)

                _The Sunbirds, or Honeysuckers_, 106-108

These charming little birds are easy to identify. They are the Old World
counterparts of the humming birds of the New World. The hens are
inconspicuous little brown birds with yellow under parts, but the cocks
wear a gay livery. They build large hanging nests, composed of dried
grass, leaves, etc., held together by cobweb, so that they look, from a
little distance, like hanging masses of rubbish. Close inspection shows
that the nest is pear-shaped, with a circular entrance at one side and a
little porch over the entrance. The nests are found in gardens, being
sometimes suspended from the roof of the verandah.

These birds feed largely on the nectar of flowers, which they abstract by
means of their long tubular tongues. In order to obtain the honey they
frequently hover on rapidly-vibrating wings, like humming birds.

106. _Arachnechthra lotenia_: Loten’s Sunbird. (F. 894), (J. 235), (-I.)

_Cock_: The whole plumage is dark metallic purple, looking black in some
lights, but in the sun’s rays it displays a green or lilac sheen. The
beak is long and curved.

_Hen_: Upper plumage earthy brown, lower plumage very pale yellow.

Found only in S. India. Very common in Madras. (Illus. B. P., pp. 78, 82,
and 90.)

107. _Arachnechthra asiatica_: The Purple Sunbird. (F. 895), (J. 234),

_Cock_: Very like _A. lotenia_, but this species is smaller and its
curved beak is shorter. It is a very fine songster, its voice being as
sweet as that of the canary or the pied wagtail.

_Hen_: Upper plumage earthy brown, lower plumage yellow.

Found all over India, but is only a summer visitor to the Punjab and N.W.
F. P. (Illus. I. F., frontispiece.)

108. _Arachnechthra zeylonica_: The Purple-rumped Sunbird (F. 901), (J.
232), (-I.)

_Cock_: From a little distance the cock looks like a black-and-white
bird, the upper parts and breast appear black, and the lower parts white.
Closer inspection, however, reveals a livery of many colours, each of
which has a beautiful sheen. There is a patch on the crown which appears
metallic lilac in some lights and emerald green in others. The neck and
upper back are dull crimson, the lower back, chin, and throat are
brilliant metallic purple. The tail and wing feathers are dark brown.
There is a maroon collar below the throat. The lower plumage is bright

_Hen_: Upper plumage earthy brown, lower parts yellow.

Found in all parts of India except N.W. F. P., Punjab, U.P., Behar,
Assam, and Burma. Very common in S. India. (Illus. B. P., p. 80; also B.
B., p. 62, and G. B., p. 40, and I. F., p. 128).

                           _The Pittas_, 109

Pittas are unique birds. They are about the size of a quail and are
characterised by their short tails and legs and their many-coloured
plumage. They feed upon the ground, but when alarmed they take refuge in
bushes. They are never seen far from cover. They have a cheery whistling

109. _Pitta brachyura_: The Indian Pitta. (F. 933), (J. 345), (II.)

The natives call this species the _Naurang_ (nine colours) on account of
its many colours.

The crown is yellow tinged with orange and divided in the middle by a
broad black band running from the beak to the nape of the neck, where it
meets a broader black band that passes below the eye. The eyebrow is
white. The back and shoulders are dull bluish green. There is a patch of
pale blue feathers over the tail and a patch of the same colour on the
wing. The feathers of the wing and tail are black tipped with blue. There
is a white bar in the wing visible only during flight. Chin and throat
are white, breast orange-yellow. There is a large crimson patch under the

Not found in N.W. F. P., Punjab, Eastern Bengal, Assam, or Burma. It is
nowhere abundant, but fairly common in Madras. (Illus. B. D., p. 108;
also I. F., p. 256.)

                    _The Woodpeckers_, 110 _and_ 111

A general description of the woodpeckers is scarcely necessary. They feed
exclusively on insects, which they pick off the trunks of trees, tapping
the same with their chisel-like beak to drive their quarry from its lair.
They are very skilled climbers, moving up and down the tree trunk in a
series of jerks; the head is always pointing upwards. Their powers of
flight are not great, they progress through the air in a series of
undulations, uttering their peculiar harsh cries. They excavate their
nests in the trunks of trees. A great many woodpeckers exist in India,
but only two species are widely distributed.

110. _Liopicus mahrattensis_: The Yellow-fronted Pied Woodpecker. (F.
972), (J. 160), (-II.)

A spotted black-and-white bird, with a yellow patch on the forehead. The
cock has in addition a short red crest. There is also a patch of red on
the abdomen.

Not found in Eastern Bengal and Assam.

111. _Brachypternus aurantius_: The Golden-backed Woodpecker. (F. 986),
(J. 180), (+III.)

Bright crimson crest. Top of head black. Sides of head white, with a
number of black lines and streaks. Upper back golden yellow. Lower back
and tail black. Wings black and golden yellow, with some white spots. It
has a loud screaming call, which it constantly utters.

Not found in Assam. Common in all other parts of India. (Illus. F. III.,
p. 14; also B. C., p. 65.)

112. _Iynx torquilla_: The Common Wryneck. (F. 1003), (J. 188), (+I.)

An inconspicuous grey-brownish bird, streaked, speckled, and mottled all
over its plumage. In some respects its habits are those of the
woodpecker, but it rarely if ever climbs high up a tree, it is usually
seen picking insects off a tree stump or a mound. It has a peculiar habit
of twisting its head round, hence its name.

It is a winter visitor to the plains of India, but can scarcely be called
a common bird.

                      _The Barbets_, 113 _and_ 114

Barbets are tree-haunting birds with thick bills. They have loud
monotonous calls of two or three notes, which they repeat eternally. They
nest in holes in trees, which they excavate with their thick stout bills,
in woodpecker fashion. The entrance to the nest is a perfectly circular
hole, like that leading to a woodpecker’s nest, but considerably smaller.
Barbets, when calling, move the head, so that it is not easy to locate
the bird from its call.

113. _Thereiceryx zeylonicus_: The Common Green Barbet. (F. 1008), (J.
193), (III.)

A rich leaf-green bird, with a brownish head and a large brown patch
round the eye devoid of feathers.

During the latter part of the cold weather and the early part of the hot
weather it makes the _bagh_ where it occurs resound with its loud,
penetrating, monotonous _kutur, kutur, kutur_. The bird starts by
uttering a harsh laugh—_tur-r-r-r_—this is followed by a long succession
of _kuturs_.

Not found in Punjab, Sind, Rajputana, Lower Bengal, or the East Coast of
the Madras presidency.

114. _Xantholæma hæmatocephala_: The Crimson-breasted Barbet, or
Coppersmith. (F. 1019), (J. 197), (+I.)

An olive-green bird with very gaudy colouring on the head. I quote the
following description from _Bombay Ducks_: The bird “always puts me in
mind of a woman who ‘makes up’ very carelessly, who is not only
exceedingly lavish of the paint, but does not understand how to shade it
off gradually. The general colour of the bird’s plumage is greenish, but
on close inspection many greyish white feathers are seen to be mingled
with the green ones. There is a daub of crimson on the forehead and
another on the throat. The sides of the face are pale yellow. The legs
are coral red. The build of the bird is exceedingly coarse.”

But the coppersmith is a bird that is usually heard rather than seen. Its
monotonous metallic _tonk, tonk, tonk_, like the tapping of a hammer on
metal, is one of the most familiar sounds of the Indian country-side.
This cry is heard only in the hot weather, and the warmer the day the
more vigorously does the bird call. (Illus. B. D., p. 246; also B. B., p.

115. _Coracias indica_: The Indian Roller, or “Blue Jay.” (F. 1022), (J.
123), (+III.)

This is a most familiar bird. Its head and neck, throat and shoulders,
are the colour of a faded port-wine stain. Its wings and tail are
composed of alternate broad bands of light and dark blue. These organs
are not very much _en evidence_ when the bird is perched; but flight
transforms it; as it flaps heavily along it is a study in Oxford and
Cambridge blue.

It is found in most parts of India, but not in the island of Bombay.

It nests at the beginning of the hot weather in a hole in a building or a
decayed tree. At the breeding season it is very noisy, uttering strange
hoarse cries as it performs weird antics in the air, or, sitting on a
perch, it every now and again utters a loud _tshock_, accompanied by a
vibration of the tail.

In Burma this species is replaced by an allied one—_Coracias affinis_—the
Burmese Roller. (Illus. B. D., p. 112; also B. P., p. 12, and B. C.

                    _The Bee-eaters_, 116 _and_ 117

Bee-eaters are brightly coloured birds of elegant form. They are
characterised by having the median pair of tail feathers prolonged a
couple of inches beyond the others as bristles. The feeding habits of
these birds are like those of flycatchers. They make from some perch
little sallies in the air after insects. The wings when spread are
triangular in shape. They excavate their nests in sandbanks.

116. _Merops viridis_: The Common Indian Bee-eater. (F. 1026), (J. 117),
(I, but with rather a long tail.)

An emerald-green bird with a turquoise throat, black necklace, and a
black band through the eye. The wings are shot with bronze, so that, as
the bird sails along on outstretched pinions, it looks now green, now
bronze, as the rays of the sun are reflected at different angles. There
is some black in the tail, and the two median tail feathers project as
bristles a couple of inches beyond the other tail feathers. The eye is
bright red.

Found all over India, but undergoes a considerable amount of local
migration. It is a summer visitor to the Punjab and N.W. F. P., and is
said to leave the island of Bombay in the hot weather. (Illus. B. D., p.
82; also B. B., p. 42, and G. B., p. 64.)

117. _Merops philippinus_: The Blue-tailed Bee-eater. (F. 1027), (J.
118), (II, but with rather a long tail.)

General hue green, shot with bronze; the tail is bluish. There is a broad
black streak running through the eye. The chin is a dirty cream colour.
The throat is chestnut-red. The eye is bright red.

This species is a larger and less beautiful edition of No. 116. Like the
latter it undergoes partial migration, being a summer visitor to N. India
and a winter visitor to S. India. One sees large numbers of these birds
when out snipe shooting in Madras. They perch on the _bands_ between the
flooded fields and make sallies into the air after insects. The note is a
feeble but mellow whistle.

                       _The Kingfishers_, 118-120

These form a very well-marked group of piscatorial birds, characterised
by long bills and short tails. They nest in holes in river banks.

118. _Ceryle varia_: The Indian Pied Kingfisher. (F. 1033), (J. 136),

This bird must be familiar to every Anglo-Indian, it is the “Pied
Fish-tiger” of Sir Edwin Arnold. It is speckled black and white like a
Hamburgh fowl. It seeks its quarry by hanging in the air on rapidly
vibrating wings high above the water. Suddenly its pinions cease
quivering, and it drops like a stone into the water. Sometimes it checks
its fall before reaching the water, and flies to another part of the
_jhil_, where it again hovers.

It is impossible to mistake this bird; there is no other like it save its
larger Himalayan brother (_C. lugubris_). It has a small crest. (Illus.
B. D., p. 66; also I. F., p. 162.)

119. _Alcedo ispida_: The Common Kingfisher. (F. 1035), (J. 134), (II,
but with a very short tail.)

This bird, which is to be found in all parts of India where there is a
river, a tank, or a pool of water, is the kingfisher with which we are
familiar in England.

Its head and nape are blue with faint black cross bars. The back is
bright pale blue; the tail is dark blue; the wings greenish blue. The
sides of the head are studies in red, blue, black, and white. The chin is
whitish or cream-coloured, and the lower parts are rusty-red. The bill is
black; the feet are coral-red.

Its habit is to perch on a bough overhanging the water, or on the river
bank itself, and thence to dive obliquely into the water after its
quarry. Its flight is low, straight, and very rapid; when in motion it
continually utters a peculiar whistling scream. Its neck is very short,
and as it sits waiting for its quarry it keeps raising and lowering its
head in the most comical manner. (Illus. B. D., p. 102; also B. P., p.

120. _Halcyon smyrnensis_: The White-breasted Kingfisher. (F. 1044), (J.
129), (III.)

This beautiful bird must be familiar to every Anglo-Indian.

The head and nape are rich chocolate brown, as is the abdomen. The back,
tail, and wings are bright blue. During flight the wings display a very
conspicuous white band. The chin, throat, and breast are white. The bill
is dark red, and the feet bright red. It is impossible to mistake this
bird; a rapidly flying, bright blue bird, with white wing bars, which
emits a loud scream, is without doubt this species.

It is often found far from water, since it feeds largely on insects,
which it picks off the ground in much the same way as the roller or
so-called blue jay does.

The above three kingfishers are among the commonest birds of India. There
are several other species of more restricted distribution; but as these
are only common locally, I have not included them in this work. The
reader should experience no difficulty in identifying them with the aid
of the descriptions in the _Fauna of British India_. (Illus. B. D., p.
104; also B. P., p. 4.)

                     _The Hornbills_, 121 _and_ 122

These include some of the strangest forms in nature. They are often
erroneously called Toucans by Anglo-Indians. Toucans do not occur in
India. Hornbills are characterised by the enormous development of the
bill. I have elsewhere described the largest of the hornbills as follows:
_Dichoceros bicornis_ is “nearly 4½ feet in length. The body is only 14
inches long, being an insignificant part of the bird, a mere connecting
link between the massive beak and the great loosely inserted tail. The
beak is nearly a foot in length, and is rendered more conspicuous than it
would otherwise be by a structure known as a casque. This is a horny
excrescence nearly as large as the bill, which causes the bird to look as
though it were wearing a hat, which it had placed for a joke on its beak
rather than its head. The eye is red, and the upper lid is fringed with
eyelashes which add still further to the oddity of the bird’s

The nesting habits of these birds are curious. They nestle in holes in
trees. When the eggs are laid the hen goes into the hole, the entrance to
which is plastered up by the cock and hen until the orifice is only just
large enough to allow of the insertion of the beak. Thus the hen remains
a voluntary prisoner until the young are ready to leave the nest, the
cock bringing food to her.

The great majority of hornbills are confined to the large forests, and so
cannot be called common birds. Two of the smaller species, however, are
more widely distributed. (Illus. F. III., p. 140.)

121. _Lophoceros birostris_: The Common Grey Hornbill. (F. 1062), (J.
144), (IV, but with the tail a foot long.)

A large brownish-grey bird, darkest on the sides of the head and palest
on the lower parts. The bill, which has a small casque or excrescence on
top, is blackish and 4 inches long. It is a tree-haunting species. Its
cry is very characteristic. Its flight is laboured, consisting of
“alternate flappings and sailings,” like that of the tree-pie.

This species is common in Oudh. Blanford states that it is wanting in the
Punjab. This is not correct, as I have seen it in Lahore. I have not
observed it in the vicinity of Madras. Eha does not mention it in his
common _Birds of Bombay_, nor does it appear to be found in the
neighbourhood of Calcutta.

122. _Lophoceros griseus_: The Malabar Grey Hornbill. (F. 1063), (J.
145), (IV, but with tail 9 inches long.)

This is very like 121, but it lacks the casque. It is the common hornbill
of the West Coast.

                           _The Hoopoes_, 123

Hoopoes are ground-feeding birds, characterised by their long slightly
curved bill and conspicuous crest, which ordinarily projects from the
back of the head and looks like a backward continuation of the beak. When
the bird is disturbed and when it flies the crest is expanded like a fan.
Almost every lawn in India forms the feeding-ground for at least one pair
of hoopoes. Hoopoes nest in holes in trees or in the walls of buildings.

123. _Upupa indica_: The Indian Hoopoe. (F. 1067), (J. 255), (III.)

Head and body fawn-coloured. Wings and tail white with very broad black
bars. The beak is 2½ inches long, and the legs are very short. The
feathers of the crest have black tips. The note is a soft _ūk—ūk—ūk_,
rapidly repeated. (Illus. B. D., p. 140.)

                      _The Swifts_, 124 _and_ 125

These birds are frequently confounded with swallows (q.v.). Many species
visit India, but only two are really common birds.

124. _Cypselus affinis_: The Common Indian Swift. (F. 1073), (J. 100),

A blackish bird, with a white bar across the back, which flies with great
velocity; the wings form the arc of a circle as it dashes through the
air. It never perches. When it wishes to rest it repairs to its nest,
which is a saucer-shaped structure made of mud, bits of straw, feathers,
etc., usually fixed on to a wall under an eave, sometimes in a deserted
temple or mosque. (Illus. B. B., p. 35.)

125. _Tachornis batassiensis_: The Palm-swift (F. 1075), (J. 102), (-I.)

A brownish-black bird. Its habits are like those of No. 124, except that
its flight is less swift and it is rarely found away from palm trees. It
attaches its nest to the under side of a palm leaf, or a betel-nut leaf.

                     _The Nightjars_, 126 _and_ 127

These birds are very nocturnal in their habits, so, like the heroine of
_The Diary of a Bad Girl_, they are heard and not seen.

They are characterised by the large mouth, which enables them to secure
their insect quarry while they are on the wing. They usually lie up
during the day on the ground in some secluded spot.

126. _Caprimulgus asiaticus_: The Common Indian Nightjar, or Goatsucker.
(F. 1091), (J. 112), (+II.)

Upper parts greyish brown, lower parts reddish brown, every feather being
marked by a number of narrow blackish cross bars.

The voice of this bird must be familiar to many residents in India, it
sounds like a stone skimming over ice, and hence is known as the

127. _Caprimulgus macrurus_: Horsfield’s Nightjar. (F. 1093), (J. 110),

A large edition of No. 126. Its _chuk, chuk, chuk_ is not unlike the
sound made by tapping a plank with a hammer.

                         _The Cuckoos_, 128-131

This large family falls into two classes—the parasitic and the
non-parasitic—both classes being represented in India.

The European cuckoo is very abundant in the Himalayas, but is rarely seen
or heard in the plains.

128. _Hierococcyx varius_: The Common Hawk-Cuckoo—the Brain-fever bird of
Anglo-Indians. (F. 1109), (J. 205), (-III, but with a tail 6 inches

Every Anglo-Indian is familiar with the _crescendo_ shriek—brain-fever,
_brain-fever_, BRAIN FEVER—of this bird, which is reiterated with such
“damnable persistency” at the beginning of the hot weather. This bird is
exceedingly common in the United Provinces. It is less abundant in other
parts of India. It does not appear to occur west of Umballa; I never
heard it in Madras, and it does not seem to occur in the island of
Bombay. It is impossible to miss it where it does occur. There is no
mistaking its note. It is a greyish-brown bird with whitish under parts,
each feather having darker cross bars. The bird is very hawk-like in
appearance, hence its name.

It is parasitic on “The Seven Sisters” and other kinds of babblers.
(Illus. B. C., p. 95.)

129. _Coccystes jacobinus_: The Pied-crested Cuckoo. Known to Europeans
in Upper India as the Rainy-weather Bird. (F. 1118), (J. 212), (+II, but
with a tail over 6 inches long.)

Upper plumage glossy black, with a broad white wing-bar, and white tips
to the tail feathers. The chin, throat, and under parts are white. A
conspicuous black crest.

This species is very common “on the Bombay side.” Numbers visit Northern
India in the rains, and announce their presence by loud high-pitched

It is parasitic on various species of babblers. (Illus. B. B., p. 53.)

130. _Eudynamis honorata_: The Indian Koel, sometimes wrongly called
(e.g. in _The Common Birds of Bombay_) the Brain-fever Bird. (F. 1120),
(J. 214), (III, but with a tail 8 inches long.)

_Cock_: A glossy black bird with a green bill and crimson eye. As he
flies he looks like a slenderly built crow with an unusually long tail.

_Hen_: A brown bird, spotted and barred all over with white. Bill and eye
as in cock. This is an exceedingly noisy bird, and is most vociferous at
dawn. It has three distinct calls. The commonest is a _crescendo_: ku-il,
_ku-il_, KU-IL, whence its name. Another call is _ku-y-o_. The third is a
torrent of _kekaree, kekarees_. (Illus. B. D., pp. 218 and 220; also B.
C., p. 92.)

It is parasitic on crows.

131. _Centropus sinensis_: The Common Coucal, or Crow-Pheasant. (F.
1130), (J. 217), (-IV, but with a tail 10 inches long.)

A great black fowl with chestnut-red wings. It feeds largely on the
ground, and its long tail sometimes causes the “griff” to mistake it for
a pheasant.

Its call, which is heard at all times of the day, but more especially at
dawn, is a low, loud, sonorous _whoot, whoot, whoot_, the kind of call
that one associates with an owl.

It is not parasitic, but builds a large domed nest in the innermost
recesses of a dense thicket. (Illus. I. F., p. 80. [Illustration not a
good one.])

131a. _Taccocua leschenaulti_: The Sirkeer Cuckoo. (F. 1129), (J. 222),

This bird, although nowhere abundant, is widely distributed. It has the
appearance of a large long-tailed babbler, and when it runs along the
ground it looks like a mongoose. It is an earthy brown bird. The outer
tail feathers are black with white tips. The bill is cherry-red; this,
perhaps, is the reason why Indians call the bird _Jangli tota_. Like the
crow-pheasant it builds a nest.

                      _The Green Parrots_, 132-134

Every dweller in India must be familiar with these noisy birds, both in
the captive and the wild state. They go about in small flocks, looking
like “live emeralds in the sun,” and uttering loud screams and harsh
cries. During flight they turn from side to side “like badly balanced
arrows.” They nestle in holes in trees or buildings.

Three species are to be numbered among the common birds of India.

132. _Palæornis nepalensis_: The Alexandrine or Large Indian Paroquet.
(F. 1135), (J. 147), (+III, but with a tail over a foot long.)

A beautiful grass-green bird, with some blue in the tail and a red patch
on each shoulder. The cock has a rose-coloured collar round the back of
his neck, which is connected with the bill on each side by a black

Found in N. and C. India. Very common in the Punjab.

133. _Palæornis torquatus_: The Rose-ringed Paroquet. (F. 1138), (J.
148), (-III, but with a tail 10 inches long.)

A small edition of No. 132, but lacks the red patch on the shoulders.

The commonest of the green parrots, and found all over the plains of
India. (Illus. B. P., p. 18; also I. F., p. 220.)

134. _Palæornis cyanocephalus_: The Western Blossom-headed Paroquet. (F.
1139), (J. 149), (II, but with a tail over 8 inches long.)

_Cock_: General colour bright grass-green. The head is red, tinged with
blue, as Blanford says, like the bloom on a plum. There is a red patch on
the shoulders, as in the case of No. 132. The median tail feathers are
pale blue.

_Hen_: Differs from the cock in that the head is duller, being of a grey
rather than a red hue.

Not found in N.W. F. P. or the Punjab. Commoner in South than in North

                          _The Owls_, 135-139

Owls form a well-marked natural order. It is easy enough to recognise an
owl when one sees one, but not easy to say to what species it belongs,
because all owls bear a strong resemblance to one another—all are of much
the same colour—reddish brown with darker bars or drops. Moreover, they
are all creatures of the night, so, save with one exception, are not much
_en evidence_ in the daytime. This exception is that little clown, the
spotted owlet.

135. _Athene brama_: The Spotted Owlet. (F. 1180), (J. 76), (II.)

A small owl; upper plumage earthy brown or grey in colour, copiously
spotted and barred with white. Lower plumage white with dark brown spots
and cross bars.

It comes out long before sunset and pours forth a volley of chuckles and
squeaks; two of these individuals often shouting at once. When it catches
sight of a human being it stares at him with its bright golden orbs and,
as Eha observes, bows with sarcastic effect. No one who has dwelt any
length of time in India can fail to have remarked this very noisy little
owl. It nests in holes of trees or in the walls of bungalows. This is the
only owl which can be classed as a familiar bird. Three other species,
however, are often seen, namely (Illus. B. D., p. 256; also B. P., p. 94,
and B. B., p. 29):

136. _Strix flammea_: The Barn Owl or Screech Owl. (F. 1152), (J. 60),

This is a reddish-brown bird barred with narrow white and black bars. It
has a long heart-shaped face, which is white.

It is very nocturnal in its habits; when it does get abroad in the
daytime it is promptly mobbed by the crows. Its cry is a weird screech,
and it is regarded by the people as a bird of evil omen.

137. _Asio accipitrinus_: The Short-eared Owl. (F. 1157), (J. 68), (+IV.)

A large buff bird barred all over with dark brown. It lies up during the
day in grass, and is often flushed by sportsmen. Sometimes three or four
are flushed together. It is a winter visitor to India.

138. _Scops giu_: The Scops Owl. (F. 1173), (J. 74), (-II.)

This may be distinguished from the spotted owlet by the fact that it
possesses “horns” or ear-tufts. Like most other owls it is heard more
often than seen. Its note, which must be familiar to all who have camped
in India, is a single hoot, which is repeated monotonously at regular
intervals of about ten seconds.

139. _Glaucidium radiatum_: The Jungle Owlet. (F. 1184), (J. 78), (-II.)

This owl is very like 135 in appearance, and has a peculiar protracted
call which must be familiar to those who have camped in the U. P.

It does not appear to occur in the N.W. F. P., the Punjab, the Deccan, or

140. _Pandion haliaëtus_: The Osprey. (F. 1189), (J. 40), (-V.)

This looks very like a kite when seen as it perches on a stone, but is
distinguishable from the kite by the fact that its head and neck are
white, save for a broad dark band which runs from the eye down the side
of the neck.

When seeking for food, however, nothing is easier than to identify the
osprey. Like the pied kingfisher the great bird poises itself in the air
on quivering wings high above the water. Suddenly its wings close and it
drops down like a falling stone and disappears into the water with a huge
splash, to emerge a second or two later with a fish in its talons.

In the cold weather the osprey is to be seen in most places where there
are large _jhils_ or backwaters.

                        _The Vultures_, 141-145

These are huge birds of prey which feed exclusively on carrion. They are
distinguished by the fact that their head and neck are destitute of
feathers. A large bird of prey with bare head and neck is undoubtedly a

Vultures, as everyone knows, stay for hours floating on outstretched
wings high up in the air, looking out for dead animals. Kites and other
birds of prey remain for long periods on the wing; they, too, can sail
and soar, but they do not literally hang in the air as the vultures do.
As these latter float in the air it will be observed that their wings
project straight out at right angles to the body. The commonest species
of vulture are:

141. _Otogyps calvus_: The Black or Pondicherry Vulture. (F. 1191), (J.
2), (+V, nearly twice the size of the kite.)

A black bird with a red head, a white waist-coat, and a white patch on
each thigh.

Rare in the Punjab and Sind.

142. _Gyps indicus_: The Indian Long-billed Vulture. (F. 1194), (J. 4),
(+V, over a yard in length.)

Uniform brownish grey; the hue varying with individuals.

Not found in Sind.

143. _Pseudogyps bengalensis_: The Indian White-backed Vulture. (F.
1196), (J. 5), (+V. Between 141 and 142 in size.)

This is the commonest vulture in India. It is very dark grey, almost
black. The naked head is rather lighter than the rest of the body. The
lower back is white, and this makes the bird easy to identify. It has
some white in the wings, and this during flight is visible as a broad
white band that runs from the body nearly to the tip of the wing. Thus
the wing from below appears to be white with very broad black edges.
(Illus. B. B., p. 9.)

144. _Neophron ginginianus_: The Smaller White Scavenger Vulture. (F.
1197), (J. 6), (V.)

This familiar creature I have named “The ugliest bird in the world.” I
reproduce the description of the bird from _Bombay Ducks_: “There is no
other creature like unto it. It is about the size of a kite. Its plumage
is dirty white, except the tips of the wings, which are shabby black. The
neck is covered with feathers, which stick out like the back hairs of a
schoolboy. These are, if possible, rather dirtier-looking than the rest
of the plumage, and frequently assume a rusty hue. Its bill is yellow, so
are its naked face and its legs. As ‘Eha’ remarks: ‘It does not stand
upright like the true vultures, but carries its body like a duck and
steps like a recruit.’ . . . It is a good flier, and when seen on the
wing looks quite a respectable bird. The under parts of its wings appear
pure white in the sunlight, and the black border gives them a finish.”

Young scavenger vultures are sooty brown when they leave the nest and
look like a different species.

This creature feeds on human ordure and haunts the neighbourhood of
latrines. It is known to Thomas Atkins as the Shawk. It is also called
Pharaoh’s Chicken. (Illus. B. D., pp. 278 and 280.)

In the Punjab it is replaced by a species which resembles it in all
characters, differing only in being a little larger. This species is:

145. _Neophron percnopterus_: The Egyptian Vulture, or Large White
Scavenger Vulture. (F. 1198), (J. 6), (+V.)

                      _The Birds of Prey_, 146-162

This large family is composed of birds which bear so strong a family
likeness that it is almost impossible to describe them in such a way as
to enable the reader to identify them at sight. As with the owls, birds
of prey are easily recognised as such, but to name any particular species
baffles even professed ornithologists. To try to make out the raptores by
their colour is, to use the words of Eha, “at the best a short road to
despair. Naturalists learn to recognise them as David’s watchman
recognised the courier who brought tidings of the victory over Absalom.
‘His running is like the running of Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok.’ Every
bird of prey has its own character, some trick of flight, something in
its figure and proportions which serves to distinguish it decisively.”
What precisely this something is I am not in most cases able to state. I
trust that before long Mr. C. H. Donald, or some other Indian falconer,
will give us a little handbook on the birds of prey of this country. For
my part I am able merely to attempt a description of two or three of the
very commonest forms.

146. _Aquila vindhiana_: The Indian Tawny Eagle. (F. 1203), (J. 29),

In colouring this bird is very like the common kite, but has not so long
a tail; and its legs are feathered right down to the toe—this is the
sign-manual of all the true eagles. A bird that looks like a kite with
feathered legs is probably a tawny eagle—the commonest eagle in India,
abundant everywhere save on the Malabar coast.

147. _Butastur teesa_: The White-eyed Buzzard. (F. 1220), (J. 48), (IV.)

This bird of prey is about the size of the common house crow. Eha writes,
“A Buzzard’s idea of life is to sit upon a pole, or on top of a small
tree commanding a good expanse of grass land, and to watch for a field
mouse, or a lizard, or even a fat grasshopper. If you see a biggish,
untidy hawk, of a sandy brown colour, more or less dashed with whitish,
spending the morning in this way, you may put it down as _Butastur
teesa_.” The sign-manual of this common bird is its white eye, and if you
cannot get near enough to make this out with the aid of field glasses,
you may still identify this species by the conspicuous white patch on the
nape of the neck.

Very common in N. India; rare in the south.

148. _Haliaëtus leucoryphus_: Pallas’s Fishing Eagle. (F. 1223), (J. 42),
(+V; nearly half as big again as the kite.)

A large brown bird with whitish forehead, chin, and throat, and a broad
white band (4 inches wide) across the tail, about three inches from the
tip. This is the sign-manual of this species, and on this account Jerdon
calls it “The Ring-tailed Fish Eagle.”

Not found in S. India.

“All the fish-eagles,” writes C. H. Donald in _The Indian Field_, “have
loud resonant calls, anything but melodious, and each and all seem to
love hearing their own voices. _H. leucoryphus_ in the plains of the
Punjab may often be heard long before he is seen, particularly when
soaring, and though he himself may only appear a wee speck in the
heavens, his call will be distinctly heard.”

This bird frequents rivers and marshes, and is an inland rather than a
seashore bird.

149. _Haliaëtus leucogaster_: The White-bellied Sea-Eagle. (F. 1224), (J.
43), (V. a little larger than the kite.)

Head, neck, lower parts, and nearly the whole of the tail white; other
parts dark grey or brown. Jerdon calls this species the Grey-backed
Sea-Eagle. This species is very seldom seen inland, and is easily
distinguished from Nos. 148 and 150 by having the lower parts white
instead of brown.

Col. Cunningham describes this species as “one of the most splendid of
large raptorial birds, owing to the brilliant contrast of the snowy
whiteness of the head and under surface, with the deep ashy tints of the
wings and back. There are few more striking objects than one of them as
he sits on a bare branch overhanging a tidal channel, glancing around
with his bold black eyes, and with all his beautiful plumage gleaming in
the bright sunlight.”

This is a very noisy species, especially at the breeding season.

150. _Haliaëtus albicilla_: The White-tailed Sea-Eagle. (F. 1225), (+V;
half as big again as a kite.)

A large brown bird with a white tail, of which the middle feathers are
considerably longer than the outer ones. By this character and by its
loud cries may this bird be identified. It is only a winter visitor to
India—to the Punjab, Sind, and the U. P.

151. _Haliastur indus_: The Brahminy Kite. (F. 1228), (J. 55), (-V.)

Of all the birds of prey this is perhaps the easiest to identify in its
adult state. The head, neck, breast, and upper abdomen are white, the
shaft of each white feather being black. The remainder of the plumage is
a rich chestnut, almost maroon.

The young are very like the common kite in appearance, but may be
distinguished when on the wing by the fact that the tail of the Brahminy
is always rounded, while that of the kite is more or less forked.

This species is rare in the Punjab, common everywhere else. In Madras it
sometimes swoops down and carries off a snipe that has been shot by a
sportsman. Its cry is a peculiar squeaking wail. (Illus. B. D., p. 190.)

152. _Milvus govinda_: The Common Pariah Kite. (F. 1229), (J. 56), (V.)

Description of this ubiquitous bird is unnecessary. His long tail,
slightly forked at the tip, suffices to distinguish him at a glance from
all other raptorial birds. (Illus. B. D., p. 182; also B. P., p. 148.)

153. _Circus macrurus_: The Pale Harrier. (F. 1233), (J. 51), (+IV.)

154. _Circus cineraceus_: Montagu’s Harrier. (F. 1234), (J. 52), (+IV.)

155. _Circus cyaneus_: The Hen Harrier. (F. 1235), (J. 50), (-V.)

156. _Circus melanoleucus_: The Pied Harrier. (F. 1236), (J. 53), (+IV.)

157. _Circus æruginosus_: The Marsh Harrier. (F. 1237), (J. 54), (-V.)

I shall not attempt to describe these birds, as, although it may be
possible to tell the male birds apart, the hens are so alike that to
distinguish them is no easy matter. The ordinary man will doubtless be
satisfied to call them all harriers.

Harriers are cold-weather visitors to India. They are striking-looking
birds with long wings. They fly low, only a few inches above the level of
the ground, ever on the look out for a lizard, a mouse, an insect, or
even a small bird. They are larger than crows and smaller than kites.
They hunt over fields and marshes, and are not seen in towns, but those
who shoot must be familiar with them. (Illus. B. B., p. 15.)

158. _Astur badius_: The Shikra. (F. 1244), (J. 23), (+III.)

This is one of the most familiar birds of prey. It is considerably
smaller than the common house crow. Its upper plumage is ashy grey. The
tail is of the same hue, but with broad black cross bars. The breast is
pale rust colour, with a number of thin wavy white cross bars. The eye is
bright yellow, as is the cere or base of the beak. It is very like the
Brain-fever Bird in appearance. It often hunts for its quarry in the
neighbourhood of trees. Its method is to make a short quick dash. Natives
of India very frequently train this bird to hawk quail and mynas. Its
note is a sharp double whistle.

159. _Accipiter nisus_: The Sparrow-Hawk. (F. 1247), (J. 24), (+III.)

This species, which is a cold-weather visitor to India, is very like No.
158 in habits and appearance. It is, however, characterised by having
long legs. It is bolder and swifter in its movements. (Illus. B. D., p.
84; also B. B., p. 21.)

160. _Falco jugger_: The Laggar Falcon. (F. 1257), (J. 11), (+III.)

Several species of falcon occur in India. This one is, I think, the

It is a brownish bird barred and spotted all over with white. It looks
like a large sparrow-hawk with long pointed wings. But it does not make
one dash at its prey after the manner of the sparrow-hawk; it is a strong
flier and settles down to a long chase in the open country. Its eyes are
dark. Natives call falcons dark-eyed hawks, and sparrow-hawks light-eyed

161. _Æsalon chicquera_: The Turumti, or Red-headed Merlin. (F. 1264),
(J. 16), (+III.)

Head and a stripe on the cheek chestnut. Back and tail grey barred with
dark brown; under parts whitish with black streaks and bars.

This species lives largely on small birds and often hunts in couples.

162. _Tinnunculus alaudaris_: The Kestrel; the English “Windhover.” (F.
1265), (J. 17), (+III.)

Head, neck, and tail grey, back and wings brick-red. Lower parts
cream-coloured spotted with brown. The red back makes the bird easy to
identify, as does its method of hunting its quarry. It flies over the
open country, and every now and then hovers on rapidly vibrating wings
over some spot where it thinks it espies some lizard or other animal. If
there is an animal there it drops quietly on it, otherwise it passes on
and hovers elsewhere.

It is a winter visitor to the plains of India.

                      _The Green Pigeons_, 163-164

These beautiful birds are strictly arboreal. They go about in small
companies, but so closely do they assimilate in colour to their leafy
surroundings that it is difficult to make them out. They feed exclusively
on fruit.

163. _Crocopus phœnicopterus_: The Bengal Green Pigeon. (F. 1271), (J.
772), (+III.)

A bright yellowish-green bird. Head, lower breast, and tail dove colour.
Some lilac and a yellow bar on the wing. Legs orange-yellow.

Found in the Eastern Punjab, U. P., and Bengal. In the Punjab, U. P., and
the whole of the peninsula of India is found the next species.

164. _Crocopus chlorogaster_: The Southern Green Pigeon. (F. 1272), (J.
773), (+II.)

This is so like No. 163 that it seems scarcely deserving of specific
rank. It differs only in having the lower breast green instead of grey.

165. _Columba intermedia_: The Indian Blue Rock Pigeon. (F. 1292), (J.
788), (+III.)

This familiar bird scarcely needs description. It is the common
_Kabutar_. It is a bluish-grey bird (light slate colour) with two broad
black bars across the wing. The tip of the tail is black; legs red.

Found all over India. In the Punjab this species meets an allied
form—_Columba livia_—which is distinguished by the fact that its lower
back is white instead of slaty grey.

                          _The Doves_, 166-169

Every one is well acquainted with these familiar birds, so that a general
description of them is unnecessary. The four species most commonly seen
in India are:

166. _Turtur suratensis_: The Spotted Dove. (F. 1307), (J. 795), (III.)

A reddish-grey bird. The sides of the neck are black with a number of
small white spots. The two median pairs of tail feathers are brown, and
the others black with white tips.

Its note is a plaintive _cūkoo-coo-coo_. Like the other three species of
dove this species is widely distributed, but is very capricious in its

It is very common in Calcutta, Madras, Travancore, Tirhoot, and Lucknow,
but does not occur at Lahore, Bombay, or in the Deccan.

It is easily distinguished from the other doves by its black tippet.
(Illus. F. IV., p. 1; also B. C., p. 123, and B. D., p. 8.)

167. _Turtur cambayensis_: The Little Brown Dove. (F. 1309), (J. 794),
(-III; midway between the bulbul and myna in size.)

This pretty little dove often nests in the verandah, building on the
rolled-up _chiks_.

Eha thus describes it: “Of an earthy brown colour, passing into slaty
grey on the wings and tail, and tinged on the head, neck, and breast with
that tender tint peculiar to doves, which the natural history books call
‘vinaceous,’ like a faded claret stain on the tablecloth. On each side of
the neck there is a miniature chessboard in red and black. The feet are
red.” Its call is composed of quite a little tune—a soft, subdued,
musical _cuk-cuk-coo-coo-coo_.

This dove is capriciously distributed. It is common in the Punjab, U. P.,
Deccan, Bombay, but absent in Lower Bengal and the Malabar coast.

168. _Turtur risorius_: The Indian Ring Dove. (F. 1310), (J. 796),

This bird is a light French grey. It is distinguishable from Nos. 166 and
167 by its paler hue and by the possession of a black collar with a
narrow white border round the back of the neck. Its note is a _ku-ku—kū_.

It is common in the Punjab, U. P., and the Deccan. It is found in Assam
and S. India on the East, but not on the West Coast, nor in Lower Bengal.

169. _Œnopopelia tranquebarica_: The Red Turtle Dove. (F. 1311), (J.
797), (II.)

This is the smallest of the doves, and is not nearly so abundant as the
other three species. In the U. P. it is a permanent resident, but in the
Punjab merely a summer emigrant. It certainly is not common in most parts
of South India. It is remarkable in that the cock and hen differ in

The cock is a rust-coloured bird with a black collar round the back of
his neck, and reddish wings.

The hen lacks the red on the wing.

The note is harsh and sepulchral, more like a grunt than a _coo_. The
legs are not red as in the other common doves.

                           _The Sand Grouse_

This family seems to form a connecting link between the pigeons and the
gallinaceous birds. They are characterised by having feathered legs. They
are coloured so as to assimilate closely to their sandy surroundings.
They are game birds. The reader is therefore referred to Marshall and
Hume’s standard book, in which there are coloured plates of the various
species. The order is treated of on pp. 53-63 of Vol. IV. of the Bird
Volumes of _The Fauna of British India_ series. (Illus. I. G. I., pp. 43,
47, 53, 57, 59, 65, 69, 77.)

170. _Pavo cristatus_: The Common Peafowl. (F. 1324), (J. 803), (+V, with
a long train in the cock.)

Description of this familiar bird is unnecessary, but it and its loud
call, like the _miau_ of a cat, are known to all men.

                              _The Quails_

These, being game birds, do not come within the scope of the present
work. The reader is referred to Hume and Marshall and the Bird Volumes of
_The Fauna of British India_ series for accounts of them. Since, however,
one sometimes, in the course of a walk in the cold weather, puts up a
common quail, I will briefly describe the bird. As you walk along you
suddenly hear a rustling noise almost at your feet, and before you can
say “Jack Robinson” a small brown bird has arisen with a flutter and
dashed off a few inches over the tops of the heads of corn in the
adjacent field. After a flight of twenty or thirty yards the bird drops
into the corn—that is all you are likely to see of the quail unless you
shoot it or net it.

171. _Coturnix communis_: The Common or Grey Quail. (F. 1355), (J. 829),
(+II, but with a very short tail.)

A brown bird much spotted and barred with black, having some white
streaks along the length of the back. Short legs.

A winter visitor to India. (Illus. I. G. II., p. 133.)

                            _The Partridges_

These are game birds, and so lie outside the scope of this book. I will,
however, describe briefly two common species, whose calls are to be
numbered among the commonest sounds heard in the jungle.

172. _Francolinus vulgaris_: The Black Partridge, or Common Francolin.
(F. 1372), (J. 818), (+III.)

The cock is a handsome black bird, with everywhere narrow bars of white
or grey. The sides of the head are white, and there is a broad chestnut
collar all round the neck.

The hen is reddish brown in most places where the cock is black.

Its cry is a curious harsh crow, so high-pitched as to be inaudible to
some human beings. Indian Muhammedans declare that the bird calls
“_Sub-hān, teri kudrat_.” Blanford syllabises it as, “_Juk-juk,

It is found in N. India, most abundantly in the U. P. (Illus. I. G. II.,
p. 9.)

173. _Francolinus pondicerianus_: The Grey Partridge. (F. 1375), (J.
822), (+III.)

A greyish-brown bird marked all over with thin white or buff cross bars.

The loud call of this bird must be familiar to most Anglo-Indians. It is
uttered early in the morning and again at sunset. Blanford describes it
as “beginning with two or three single harsh notes, and continuing with a
succession of trisyllabic, shrill, ringing cries.” Jerdon says of this
species: “Its call is a peculiar loud shrill cry, and has, not unaptly,
been compared to the word _Pateela-pateela-pateela_, quickly repeated,
but preceded by a single note uttered two or three times, each time with
a higher intonation, till it gets, as it were, the key-note of its call.”

This species runs very fast, and does not, as a rule, take to its wings
unless flushed. (I. G. II. p. 51, but plate not a good one.)

                          _The Rails_, 174-176

174. _Amaurornis phœnicurus_: The White-breasted Water-hen. (F. 1401),
(J. 907), (+II.)

A dark slaty-grey bird, almost black, with a white face, throat, and
breast. The under parts of the tail, which is carried almost erect, are
chestnut red. Wherever there is a pond having near it some bamboos or
rushes there is one likely to see a water-hen. It is a great skulker, and
always makes for cover the moment it thinks it is being watched. “It is,”
as Blanford remarks, “an excessively noisy bird; its loud, hoarse,
reiterated call, predominating in the evening and morning over the cries
of the other waders and the ducks in the village tank, must be familiar
to most people in India.” (Illus. B. B., p. 173.)

175. _Porphyrio poliocephalus_: The Purple Moorhen, or Purple Coot. (F.
1404), (J. 902), (IV.)

A beautiful purple-blue bird with very long red legs. The bill is red, as
is a square shield which the bird carries on its forehead. It has a white
patch under its tail. It is impossible to mistake this bird. There is
none other like unto it in India. One frequently comes across it when out

176. _Fulica atra_: The Coot. (F. 1405), (J. 903), (IV.)

This is the most duck-like of all the rails, and indeed is very
frequently shot and eaten as a duck by inexperienced sportsmen. However,
its shining black plumage and its white bill and shield on the forehead
serve to differentiate it from all Indian ducks. Moreover, when disturbed
on the water, it experiences some difficulty in starting to fly. It runs
along the surface of the water for a few feet with vigorous flappings of
the wings and much splashing before it succeeds in lifting itself out of
the water. It does not usually keep in flocks as ducks do. It breeds in
India. It does not swim so high in the water as a duck. Its feet are not
webbed, but its toes are pinnate, i.e. provided with flattened membranes
which assist it in swimming. Its bill is not so flat as that of a duck.

                         _The Cranes_, 177-179

Cranes are large, tall, long-shanked birds which have a loud,
trumpet-like call. The three common Indian species are chiefly grey in
colour. They never perch in trees, but rest and nest on the ground. When
they fly they carry the neck and feet stretched out straight. When they
fly in company the flight takes a V-shaped form, like that of a flight of

177. _Grus communis_: The Common Crane. (F. 1407), (J. 865), (+V; about
twice the size of a kite.)

This bird is the _coolung_ of sportsmen. Its general colour is dark
French grey. Its head is almost devoid of feathers, and there is a
square, dark red patch of skin across the back of the head. It has a
broad white band running down each side of the long neck. Its legs are

It is a winter visitor to India. It is fairly common in N. India, but
rare in the south.

It is usually seen in flocks, which spend the middle of the day on
sandbanks in the middle of rivers. (Illus. I. G. III., p. 21.)

178. _Grus antigone_: The Sarus. (F. 1409), (J. 863), (+V. This is the
largest of the Indian cranes, and stands nearly as high as a human

Its general hue is French grey. Its head is devoid of feathers. Its
throat and a ring round the nape are black. Its head and neck are red.
Its legs are dull red.

It is the most familiar of the Indian cranes. It is usually seen in
pairs. It does not soar high in the air, like the other two species. It
is a permanent resident, but does not appear to occur south of the

It is far more confidential than the other species of crane, and will
sometimes allow a human being to approach within thirty yards of it.
(Illus. I. G. III., p. 1, but plate is not good.)

179. _Anthropoides virgo_: The Demoiselle Crane. (F. 1411), (J. 866),
(+V. The smallest of the cranes.)

This bird is sometimes wrongly called _coolung_ by sportsmen; the
Hindustani name for it is _Karkarra_.

A light grey bird, with a black face and neck and some black in the
wings. Behind the eye is a streak of white feathers which ends in a long
graceful white plume. Its note is harsher and less trumpet-like than
those of the other cranes.

It is a winter visitor to India. It is very common in the Deccan,
Guzerat, and Kattiwar; less common in other parts of N. India, and rare
in Lower Bengal and S. India. Its habits are like those of No. 177.
(Illus. F. IV., p. 184; also I. G. III., p. 31.)

                             _The Bustards_

These come within the category of “game birds,” and so none of them are
treated of in this book. (Illus. I. G. I., pp. 1, 3, 7, 18.)

180. _Œdicnemus scolopax_: The Stone-Curlew, or Stone-Plover, or
Thick-knee. (F. 1418), (J. 859), (+IV.)

This bird is very like a bustard, and is known to Anglo-Indian sportsmen
as the _Bustard-Florican_. It is an ashy-brown bird, each feather having
a blackish streak down the shaft. Its wings and tail have some black and
white bars, which are conspicuous when the bird flies. The bill, eyes,
and feet are yellow. Its wild-sounding cry, which is often heard at
night, is like that of the curlew.

It frequents dry, open, stony country.

                       _The Jaçanas, 181 and 182_

These remarkable birds have very long toes, which enable them to run
about on the large floating leaves of water plants.

181. _Metopidius indicus_: The Bronze-winged Jaçana. (F. 1428), (J. 900),

Head, neck, and breast a beautiful glossy black. A conspicuous white
eyebrow. There is some black in the wings, but the general hue of these
is a metallic greenish bronze. The lower back and tail are chestnut red.

Rare in Western India; common in the east.

“They present,” writes Cunningham, “an odd appearance on the wing, owing
to the disproportionate size of their feet, which becomes particularly
conspicuous when the legs are dropped just before the bird pitches on the
surface of the weeds and expands its toes, which have been gathered up
into a bundle during flight.”

182. _Hydrophasianus chirurgus_: The Pheasant-tailed Jaçana. (F. 1429),
(J. 901), (IV, but with a tail a foot in length in the breeding season.)

_Winter plumage_: Upper parts brown, with a conspicuous white eyebrow and
a yellow band down each side of the neck. Wings black and white. Lower
parts white with a black gorget across the breast. Tail feathers white,
except the two median ones, which are brown.

_Breeding plumage_: A long black pheasant-like tail is assumed, and the
other parts are black, save the head, throat, and wings, which are white,
and the back of the neck, which is golden yellow. This Jaçana looks in
breeding plumage (i.e. in the summer) rather like a silver pheasant, and,
indeed, Europeans call it the water-pheasant. It is a beautiful creature
in its summer splendour. Finn says that it is to his mind “the most
beautiful of all our smaller aquatic birds, and hardly equalled in this
respect by any bird whatever.”

Its peculiar wailing cry has been likened to the mew of a kitten.

                     _The Lapwings_, 183 _and_ 184

183. _Sarcogrammus indicus_: The Red-wattled Lapwing. (F. 1431), (J.
855), (+IV.)

This is the familiar “Did-you-do-it.”

Head, neck, and upper breast black. There is a broad white band running
from the eye down the whole length of the neck. The back and wings are
bronzy brown, black, and white, the white being arranged so as to form a
conspicuous bar during flight. Lower parts are white, as is the tail,
except for a black band which runs across it near the tip. The bill is
reddish, and there is in front of the eye a conspicuous crimson wattle.
The legs are bright yellow.

This noisy bird is known to all residents in India. Its noisy call, “Did
he do it? Pity to do it,” is one of the most familiar sounds of the
Indian country-side. (Illus. B. B., p. 161.)

In Burma it is replaced by an allied species—_Sarcogrammus
atrinuchalis_—the Burmese Wattled Lapwing.

184. _Sarciophorus malabaricus_: The Yellow-wattled Lapwing. (F. 1433),
(J. 856), (-IV.)

This is very like the last species, the chief difference being that the
conspicuous wattle is yellow instead of crimson and the white line runs
round the back of the head from eye to eye, instead of down the neck. Its
cry is like that of No. 183, but not so harsh and with a note less.

This species is widely distributed, but not usually so common as the
last. It is said not to occur in Upper Sind or the Western Punjab. It
certainly does not occur in the neighbourhood of Lahore.

184a. _Hoplopterus ventralis_: The Spur-winged Plover. (F. 1435), (J.
857), (IV.)

Wings and tail marked like those of the red-wattled lapwing. The head and
recumbent crest are black. No wattle. Its call is very like that of the
yellow-wattled lapwing. This bird is very common on the Ganges. Not found
in the Bombay Presidency, nor in Madras south of the Godaveri.

                      _The Plovers_, 185 _and_ 186

The ringed plovers are small “snippets” which haunt the seashore and the
sandbanks of rivers. They go about in small flocks. Numbers of them are
to be seen on the muddy edges of the Coum at Madras, but they have to be
looked for, since from a little distance they assimilate closely to the
hue of the mudbanks on which they disport themselves. They are not much
bigger than sparrows, but are pretty little birds. Two species are

185. _Ægialitis alexandrina_: The Kentish Plover. (F. 1446), (J. 848),

Upper parts brown, lower parts white. The brown of the upper parts is
broken by a white forehead, eyebrow, and collar. The under surface of the
wing is white, so that as a flock of this species or the next two species
fly they look now brown, now white, according as the brown or white
surface of the wing is presented to the observer.

This species is seen chiefly in winter and on the sea-coast.

186. _Ægialitis dubia_: The Little Ringed Plover. (F. 1447), (J. 850),

This is very like No. 185 in appearance, but may be easily distinguished
from it by having a black band across the throat. Legs yellow.

This species is not confined to the sea-coast. Like most of its tribe it
has a plaintive whistle.

187. _Himantopus candidus_: The Black-winged Stilt, or Long-legs. (F.
1451), (J. 898), (-IV.)

_Male_: A white bird with glossy black back and wings.

_Female_: White with brown back and wings.

This species is characterised by very long red legs. Its bill is nearly
three inches long.

It is found in marshes and tanks.

188. _Recurvirostra avocetta_: The Avocet. (F. 1452), (J. 899), (IV.)

This elegant bird is characterised by a very long bill, which is curved
_upwards_ towards the end. It is a very easy bird to identify. Its body
is about the size of that of the crow. It is a white bird with a number
of black markings. The black markings are on top of the head, back of the
neck, the shoulders, and the wings. The beak is black and the long legs
are dark grey.

Wherever there is shallow water there may the avocet be found wading in
winter, for it is only a winter visitor to India. It does not appear to
be very common anywhere.

                      _The Curlews_, 189 _and_ 190

189. _Numenius arquata_: The Curlew. (F. 1454), (J. 877), (V.)

This well-known bird is about the size of a kite, and except for the
white chin and throat its colouring is rather like that of the kite. But
here all resemblance to the kite ceases. The curlew is a long-shanked
wading bird, with a curved bill half a foot in length, the curve in this
case being downwards instead of upwards as in the avocet. It has a wild,
plaintive cry.

It is a winter visitor to India.

190. _Numenius phæopus_: The Whimbrel. (F. 1455), (J. 878), (+IV; about
midway between the crow and the kite.)

This is a small edition of the curlew, but differs from it in having a
white band along the middle of the head. Its curved bill is only a little
over three inches long. It is less abundant than the curlew, and perhaps
scarcely deserves a place among the common birds of India.

191. _Limosa belgica_: The Black-tailed Godwit. (F. 1456), (J. 875),

A brown bird with white chin, throat, and abdomen, and some white in the
wings. The base of the tail is white and the remainder black. The bill is
about four inches long, and straight. The legs are long.

A winter visitor to India; common in the north and rare in the south.

Blanford states that it is often sold in the Calcutta bazaar as woodcock,
but Finn states that this is not in accordance with his experience.
(Illus. I. G. III., p. 409.)

                       _The Sandpipers_, 192-195

These birds constitute the “snippets” of Anglo-Indian, that is to say,
birds that try to be snipe.

These are all greenish-brown birds with light under parts. They have
fairly long bills, but not so long as that of any of the species of
snipe. They are often seen feeding—a statement which cannot be made
regarding the snipe. If you see a snipe-like bird feeding, you may be
perfectly sure that it is not a snipe. It is a sandpiper of sorts, but it
is not by any means easy to say which of the many sandpipers without
shooting it. Descriptions of the common species of sandpiper follow:—

192. _Totanus hypoleucus_: The Common Sandpiper. (F. 1460), (J. 893),
(+II, but with a very short tail, so that it actually measures less than
a bulbul.)

It is a greenish-brown bird with white under parts. Its legs are not long
for a wader; its bill is about an inch long. It goes about in ones or
twos (never in flocks), picking up insects on the water’s edge. When
disturbed it flies away, and then its wings, which are pointed, show a
very narrow white band. By this you may recognise the species. It flies
low, and as Eha remarks, with its wings bent like a bow. When it settles
down it wags its apology for a tail in wagtail-like manner. (Illus. B.
B., p. 168.)

193. _Totanus glareola_: The Wood Sandpiper, or Spotted Sandpiper. (F.
1461), (J. 891), (+II, but with a very short tail.)

The upper plumage of this is dark brown spotted with white. The abdomen
is white, as is also the tail.

The habits of this species are very like those of the snipe, so that the
sportsman out shooting constantly puts up the bird, but it can be
distinguished from the snipe, because instead of emitting the sharp
“_psip_” of the snipe on rising, it utters a shrill note. Moreover, it is
a much smaller bird than even the Jack-snipe.

194. _Totanus ochropus_: The Green Sandpiper. (F. 1462), (J. 892), (+II,
but with a short tail.)

This bird is very like the last species, except that it is larger and
less conspicuously spotted, and has more white in the tail. It is
distinguishable from the snipe, alongside of which it is often found, by
its “shrill piping note,” which it utters on the wing, and its white
tail, which is conspicuous as it flies away.

A winter visitor; commoner in N. India than in the south.

Among the sandpipers that visit India during the winter in large numbers
are (1) _Totanus glottis_: The Greenshank. (F. 1466), (J. 894), (-IV) and
(2) _Totanus calidris_: The Redshank. (F. 1464), (J. 897), (+III). The
greenshank may be recognised by its large size and the redshank by the
red legs, which are not so extravagantly long as those of the stilt

195. _Tringa minuta_: The Little Stint. (F. 1471), (J. 884), (+I, but
with a short tail.)

Upper parts dingy brown, with white forehead and under parts.

“If,” writes Eha, “you see a hundred dingy little birds, about the size
of sparrows, all feeding together knee-deep in water, you may safely put
them down as stints.”

A winter visitor to India; common on the coasts.

                              _The Snipes_

These being game birds are not dealt with in this volume. It must suffice
that all four species—The Common, Full, or Fantail Snipe (_Gallinago
cœlestis_), The Pintail (_G. stenura_), The Little Jack-Snipe (_G.
gallinula_), and The Painted Snipe (_Rostratula capensis_), who is not a
true snipe, all lie up closely in marshy ground or paddy fields in the
daytime, and are not likely to be seen by the naturalist unless he is
prepared to wade and flush them.

When flushed the first three go off at a great pace, either uttering no
call or a short, sharp “_psip_.” The flight of the last species is
comparatively feeble. (Illus. I. G. III., pp. 339, 359, etc.)

                          _The Gulls_, 196-199

Gulls are very familiar birds to every one who has performed the journey
from England to India. The beautiful flight and the loud screams of these
kites of the sea are indelibly impressed upon the memory of most

These magnificent fliers are able to keep pace with the steamer for hours
at a time without putting forth any effort. They saunter through the air
in the wake of the ship, and when anything edible is thrown overboard
they drop down and pick it off the water (they can swim like ducks), and
having devoured what there is to be eaten, they fly on after the ship,
and catch up in a few seconds.

They are largely scavengers. At sea-coast stations no sight is more
familiar than that of a number of crows and gulls squabbling over the
little fish, etc., that the fishermen throw away when overhauling their
nets on the seashore. (Illus. B. D., p. 272; also B. B., p. 190.)

The four commonest gulls in India are:

196. _Larus ridibundus_: The Laughing Gull. (F. 1490), (J. 891), (IV.)

A white bird with grey shoulders and some black in the wings. In summer
the head and neck become brown and in winter traces of this usually
remain. The bill and legs are red.

A winter visitor to India.

197. _Larus brunneicephalus_: The Brown-headed Gull. (F. 1491), (J. 980),

This bird is very like the last at all seasons, so that it is scarcely
possible to distinguish them on the wing.

198. _Larus affinis_: The Dark-backed Herring-Gull. (F. 1494), (J. 978),

This bird is distinguished from Nos. 196 and 197 by the fact that its
wings and shoulders are slate-grey instead of pale grey, and its legs are
yellow. It is a much larger bird than the above two species.

It is said to be very common at Karachi. It is found on other parts of
the West Coast, but apparently not on the East Coast.

199. _Larus cachinans_: The Yellow-legged Herring-Gull. (F. 1495), (V.)

This is very like No. 198, except that its shoulders are of a lighter
shade of grey. It has yellow legs.

This gull is often seen on the rivers and large _jhils_ of Northern India
in winter.

                          _The Terns_, 200-205

These beautiful birds have been aptly termed the swallows of the sea, for
like swallows they are birds of powerful flight, and remain for long
periods on the wing. But they are not confined to the sea. In India,
wherever there are rivers, _jhils_, or ponds there are terns to be found.

Their prevailing colour is white, and most of them have some black in
their plumage.

To repeat what I said in _Bombay Ducks_: “No one can fail to recognise a
tern. If you see a slenderly-built bird of whitish tinge, with long
swallow-like wings and forked tail, a bird which sails along easily over
water, sometimes diving for a fish, more frequently picking something off
the surface of the water, you may set that bird down as a tern.” (Illus.
B. D., p. 270.)

200. _Hydrochelidon hybrida_: The Whiskered Tern, or the Small Marsh
Tern. (F. 1496), (J. 984), (+II.)

_Winter plumage_: A white bird with grey back, wings, and tail. Some
black on the nape of the neck and a black streak behind the eye. Bill,
legs, and toes dull red.

_Summer plumage_: The whole of the upper part of the head is black. The
abdomen becomes dark grey, so that at this season the whiskered tern is
liable to be confounded with the black-bellied tern (204). The tail,
however, of the whiskered species is not so deeply forked.

Very common in N. India. An inland bird found on marshes, rivers, tanks,
and paddy fields.

201. _Hydroprogne caspia_: The Caspian Tern. (F. 1498), (J. 982), (+IV.)

This is the largest of the terns. It is a white bird save for the fact
that there is a good deal of black in the head. Its wings are pearl grey.
Its bill is bright red. Its legs are black. Its tail is not very deeply
forked. It goes about in pairs. It is local in its distribution.

It is common at Madras, and it is said to be particularly common in Sind.
I have never seen it in the Punjab. Eha does not mention it as one of the
birds of Bombay.

202. _Sterna angelica_: The Gull-billed Tern. (F. 1499), (J. 983), (+III,
with a longish tail.)

Printer’s devils are particularly spiteful to this bird. In _The Common
Birds of Bombay_ they have mutilated its name into “gull-gilled.” In
_Bombay Ducks_ it appears as the “gull-bird tern.”

It is the least beautiful of the terns, being more heavily built than
most of them.

In winter it is a white bird with grey wings and some black in the head.
In summer its head is jet black. The bill, legs, and feet are black. Its
tail is not very deeply forked.

It is found both inland and on the coast.

203. _Sterna seena_: The Indian River Tern. (F. 1503), (J. 985), (+III,
with a long, deeply forked tail.)

This is the common tern of N. India, and frequents all the large rivers.

Its head and nape are deep black. The upper plumage French grey. Lower
plumage very pale grey. Chin white, and a white patch on each cheek. Bill
bright deep yellow. Legs red. This bird moults about Christmas time, and
for a few weeks after the moult there is much white in the head, but this
soon disappears.

204. _Sterna melanogaster_: The Black-bellied Tern. (F. 1504), (J. 987),
(-III, but with a long, deeply forked tail.)

Head black (with some white after the moult at Christmas), _abdomen
black_. Cheek, chin-throat, and wing lining white. Rest of plum, age
grey, paler on the tail than on the back. Bill orange-yellow; legs and
feet dull red.

One of the commonest of the terns, especially inland.

205. _Sterna minuta_: The Little Tern. (F. 1510), (J. 988), (-II.)

A tern not much bigger than a sparrow, with a white forehead and black
head, white cheeks and lower parts, grey wings, dark red bill and legs,
is probably this species.

It is fairly common in N. India; rare in the south.

206. _Rhynchops albicollis_: The Indian Skimmer, or Scissors-bill. (F.
1517), (J. 995), (-IV.)

A long-winged, tern-like bird, which flies about in little flocks a few
inches above the surface of the water, with white forehead, tail, and
lower parts, and a white collar round the neck; rest of upper plumage
dark brown. Bill deep red; legs bright red. (Illus. F. IV., p. 296.)

                     _The Pelicans_, 207 _and_ 208

Description of these well-known birds is superfluous, as every one knows
what they look like.

Four species are found in India, but they can scarcely be described as
common birds. Two species, however, are fairly abundant on the big
_jhils_ of Northern India.

207. _Pelicanus crispus_: The Dalmatian Pelican. (F. 1522), (+V; a large
bird as big as a swan.)

The beak is one and a half feet in length. A white bird with some black
in the wings. Bill dark grey.

Winter visitor to U. P. and Sind. (Illus. F. IV., p. 331.)

208. _Pelicanus philippensis_: The Spotted-billed or Grey Pelican. (F.
1523), (J. 1004), (+V; much smaller than 207.)

This may be distinguished by the curious dark spots and markings on its
pinkish yellow bill. (Illus. B. P., frontispiece.)

                       _The Cormorants_, 209-211

These are large black birds, which live largely on the water, and catch
fish by diving. When not fishing they have the habit of standing on top
of a post with wings outspread and then look rather like a church

Three species occur in India:

209. _Phalacrocorax carbo_: The Large Cormorant. (F. 1526), (J. 1005),

210. _Phalacrocorax fuscicollis_: The Indian Shag. (F. 1527), (J. 1006),
(+V, but smaller than 209.)

211. _Phalacrocorax javanicus_: The Little Cormorant. (F. 1528), (J.
1007), (IV.)

All three have similar habits, the last being the only common member of
the genus. No. 210 has no white throat. Nos. 209 and 211 have a white
throat, but can be readily distinguished by the fact that No. 209 is one
foot longer than No. 211.

                         _The Ibises_, 212-214

Ibises are birds about the size of a common fowl, but having a long
curved bill like that of the curlew. As Finn has pointed out, “Ibises fly
like storks with the neck outstretched, but with a quicker stroke of the
wings and frequent intervals of sailing with the pinions held level, so
that they are easily distinguished from other waders when on the wing.”
They usually occur in small flocks.

212. _Ibis melanocephala_: The White Ibis. (F. 1541), (J. 941), (+V.)

The bald head and neck are black, as are the long bill and legs. The rest
of the plumage is white.

213. _Inocotis papillosus_: The Black Ibis. (F. 1542), (J. 942), (+V.)

The Black Curlew, or King Curlew, or King Ibis of Anglo-Indians.

In this species the head only, and not the neck as in No. 212, is devoid
of feathers. The skin is black, but the back of the head is covered with
little red warts. The plumage is glossy black, save for a small white
patch on the wing. The bill, which is nearly six inches long, is dull
dark green. Legs bright red.

214. _Plegadis falcinellus_: The Glossy Ibis. (F. 1544), (J. 943), (+V.)

In this species only the front of the face is devoid of feathers. A
chestnut bird with head, wings, and tail dark brown with a green gloss.

215. _Platalea leucorodia_: The Spoonbill. (F. 1545), (J. 939), (+V.)

A large white bird with a crest in the breeding season. The long bill,
which is flat and expanded at the end like a spoon, is black, as are the
long legs. It is impossible to mistake spoonbills. There are no other
birds like them. They are found in small flocks on sandbanks, etc., at
the water’s edge.

                         _The Storks_, 216-221

Every one is familiar with the appearance of the common stork. The
leading features of the stork family are their large size, their long
legs, neck, and bill, and their perching habits. In this last respect
they differ from cranes, which never perch in trees. During flight their
long necks are stretched out forwards, and their long legs stretched out
backwards. They fly by a slow, steady flapping of the wings, but often
sail on outstretched wings like vultures. Their nests are in India, huge
platforms of sticks built in trees.

216. _Ciconia alba_: The White Stork. (F. 1546), (J. 919), (+V; 3½ feet

A white bird with some black in the wings. Bill and legs bright red.

A winter visitor, common in North India.

217. _Dissura episcopus_: The White-necked Stork, or the Beefsteak Bird.
(F. 1548), (J. 920), (+V; 3 feet long.)

A black bird, except for the neck and lower abdomen and feathers under
the tail, which are white. Bill black; legs dull red.

Not found in Punjab or Sind.

218. _Xenorhynchus asiaticus_: The Black-necked Stork. Sportsmen call
this bird the Australian Stork. (F. 1549), (J. 917), (+V; 4½ feet long.)

Beak, head, neck, and shoulders black; wings black and white. Rest of
plumage white; legs bright red.

219. _Leptopilus dubius_: The Adjutant. (F. 1550), (J. 915), (+V; 5 feet

This huge bird is characterised by an enormous beak, over a foot in
length, and a head devoid of feathers. From its neck hangs a pouch. There
is a ruff of white feathers round the neck. The lower parts are white.
The wings are partly dark slaty grey and partly French grey. The bill is
dirty pink, and the legs dirty greyish white.

Not found in S. India. (Illus. B. P., pp. 28 and 34; also I. F., p. 232.)

220. _Pseudotantalus leucocephalus_: The Painted Stork. The Pelican Ibis
of old writers. (F. 1552), (J. 938), (+V; 3½ feet long.)

This is a stork which is trying to turn into an ibis; its bill, which is
ten inches long, having a marked downward curve. It is a white bird with
a black band across the breast. The wings are mainly black, but some of
the feathers are pink with white borders.

The front of the head is devoid of feathers and is orange-yellow, as is
the bill. The legs are brown.

Not found in the Punjab; very common in the Deccan. (Its head is figured
in Vol. IV., p. 376 of F.)

221. _Anastomus oscitans_: The Open-Bill. The Shell Ibis of the older
writers. (F. 1553), (J. 940), (+V; nearly 3 feet long.)

This bird is distinguished from all others by the fact that the mandibles
do not meet in the middle; indeed the beak looks as though it had become
distorted owing to the attempts of the bird to crack a very hard nut!
(The head is figured on p. 378, F. IV.) It is a greyish white bird with
black shoulders, wings, and tail. The bill is light horn colour, and the
legs dirty pink.

To my mind this bird looks like a white stork that sadly needs a wash and
brush up and its beak put straight!

Found only in N. India. Abundant in Oudh and Bengal.

                         _The Herons_, 222-225

Herons are wading birds with long, sharp, stiletto-like bills and
telescopic necks. It is their habit to stand motionless in shallow water
with the head almost buried on the shoulders. When a victim shows itself,
out shoots the neck of the fisher, and woe betide his victim! On the wing
herons are easily identified by their large size, the steady flapping of
their wings, and the fact that they fly with the neck drawn in and the
legs projecting behind beyond the tail. A great many species of heron
occur in India, but only four are commonly seen by the average observer.

222. _Ardea cinerea_: The Common Heron. This is the familiar heron of
England. (F. 1555), (J. 923), (+V; a little over a yard long.)

An ashy-grey bird with some white on the head. From the back of the head
some black plumes hang. Lower parts white. Bill dark yellow. Legs dirty

Usually a solitary bird.

223. _Bubulcus coromandus_: The Cattle Egret. (F. 1562), (J. 929), (+IV.)

A pure white bird with a yellow bill and black legs. In the breeding
season some yellow plumes grow from the back of the head.

This is a sociable species. These birds frequently accompany cattle,
which serve as efficient beaters. The quadrupeds put up grasshoppers,
etc., which the egrets seize. The birds sometimes perch on the backs of

There are three larger species of egret which are also white; these
belong to the genus _Herodias_, but these are scarcely common birds. A
large white egret with the bill black is one of these species. (Illus. B.
D., p. 240.)

224. _Ardeola grayi_: The Pond Heron. This is the ubiquitous Paddy Bird.
(F. 1565), (J. 930), (+IV.)

This bird, which may be seen squatting at the margin of every tank and
every village pond, looks greenish brown—much the colour of its muddy
surroundings. But startle it and it opens out milk-white wings on which
it flies away with steady flappings. It is impossible to mistake a paddy
bird. It sits all brown and flies all white. Close inspection shows that
every feather has the shaft of a colour different from the web. (Illus.
B. D., p. 236; also B. P., p. 114; also B. P., p. 178.)

225. _Nycticorax griseus_: The Night Heron. (F. 1568), (J. 937), (V.)

A large dusky-coloured bird which is seen flapping its way along about
sunset with loud raucous cries that sound like “_wāk_” is the night

The head, nape, back, and shoulders are black. Forehead, cheek, breast,
and lower parts white. Remainder of plumage ashy grey. Eyes bright red.
Some of the feathers of the back of the neck are white and are lengthened
to form plumes. (Illus. B. D., pp. 232 and 238.)

225a. _Butorides javanica_: The Little Green Heron. (F. 1567), (J. 931),

A small skulking heron of greenish plumage, with long black crest and a
black line from the base of the bill running backwards below the eye.

226. _Phœnicopterus roseus_: The Common Flamingo. (F. 1575), (J. 944),
(+V; nearly 4½ feet long.)

These beautiful birds occur in flocks in shallow lakes. They are white
with a pink tinge. The wings are white, black, and cerise. The long legs
are deep pink. The curious beak is bent in the middle to form an obtuse
angle. (The beak is figured on p. 408 of Vol. IV. of O. and B. B.)

                       _The Geese_, 227 _and_ 228

As geese are game birds they do not come strictly within the scope of
this book. However, as these birds are much _en evidence_ in Upper India
in the cold weather, I will briefly describe the two common species.

In the U. P. during the winter months no sight is more common than that
of a V-shaped flock of geese cleaving its way through the air on
quivering wings. The birds, as they fly, utter a curious cackle easy to
recognise, but difficult to describe. This call is often heard at night.
When riding in the early morning one often surprises a flock of geese
feeding in some field. They pass the day on a sandbank in some large
river, most of the flock asleep on one leg with heads tucked under the
wing, but one or two birds are invariably posted as sentinels.

227. _Anser ferus_: The Grey-lag Goose. (F. 1579), (J. 945), (V.)

Upper parts brown, the shoulders having a number of narrow pale cross
bars. Lower parts pale grey. Bill, legs, and feet are a dirty pink

Not found in S. India. (Illus. I. G. III., p. 55.)

228. _Anser indicus_: The Barred-headed Goose. (F. 1583), (J. 949), (-V.)

This species is distinguished from the other by its yellow bill and feet,
and the fact that its head is white with two conspicuous broad black
cross bars, from which the bird derives its name. Its general colour is
more grey than that of the last species.

Rare in S. India. (Illus. I. D., p. 84; also I. G. III., p. 81.)

                       _The Ducks_, 229 _and_ 230

These being game birds do not come within the scope of this work. Two
species, however, which are commonly seen are not usually shot by
sportsmen on account of their indifferent flavour. These I describe.

229. _Casarca rutila_: The Ruddy Sheldrake, or Brahminy Duck. (F. 1588),
(J. 954), (-V.)

This is a curious pale ruddy-brown bird, whitish on the head. Tail and
wings black. Bill, legs, and feet blackish.

This handsome duck is a winter visitor to India. It is very abundant in
N. India, less abundant in S. India, not being found at all on the
Malabar coast. It invariably goes about in pairs, which dwell in rivers
rather than in tanks. They are wary birds and a great nuisance to
sportsmen, since they warn other water-fowl of danger. “It is difficult,”
writes Blanford, “so long as one is on an Indian river to get out of
sight of these birds or out of hearing of their peculiar clanging
bi-syllabic call or alarm cry, which is uttered frequently on the
smallest excuse.” The cry is like a soft “_chakwa_,” hence the Hindustani
name of the bird. (Illus. I. D., p. 114; also I. G. III., p. 123.)

230. _Spatula clypeata_: The Shoveller. (F. 1602), (J. 957), (-V.)

This handsome duck, although it occurs in _jhils_, is pre-eminently a
village duck. If there be any considerable piece of stagnant water near a
village in N. India, there are likely to be some shoveller ducks on
this—in winter, for they are only winter visitors to India. This species
is distinguishable from other ducks by its great flat bill being much
broader at the tip than at the base. It has a peculiar habit of swimming
in circles with its bill resting on the surface of the water.

_Cock, after February_: Head and upper neck glossy green. Lower neck and
breast white. Abdomen chestnut. Rest of body brown with a green patch or
speculum in the wing.

_Cock before February, and Hen_: Reddish brown with a lighter-coloured
border to many of the feathers. (Illus. I. D., p. 196; also I. G. III.,
p. 141.)

231. _Podicipes albipennis_: The Indian Little Grebe, or Dabchick. (F.
1617), (J. 975), (+II.)

This is one of the most aquatic birds in existence. It rarely walks on
_terra firma_, and never takes to flight from the water. When alarmed it
seeks safety by diving. Writing of this bird, Eha says, “I do not know
how to describe it better than to say that you might take it for a small
chicken without a tail. Its colour is dark glossy brown on the upper
parts, with some rich chestnut on the sides of the neck. Young birds are
lighter.” (Illus. B. B., p. 184.)

                                THE END

                       INDEX TO DESCRIPTIVE LIST

  Adjutant, 220

  Babblers, 95
  Barbets, 157
  Bee-eaters, 160
  Bulbuls, 99
  Bunting, 139
  Bustards, 199
  Buzzards, 180

  Cranes, 197
  Crows, 93
  Cormorants, 216
  Cuckoos, 169
  Cuckoo-shrikes, 115
  Curlews, 205
  Chats, 126

  Doves, 189
  Drongos, 105
  Ducks, 226

  Eagles, 180
  Egret, 222

  Falcons, 186
  Finches, 136
  Flycatchers, 122

  Geese, 224
  Godwit, 206
  Gulls, 209

  Harriers, 184
  Hawks, 186
  Hornbills, 164
  Hoopoe, 166
  Herons, 221

  Ibises, 217
  Iora, 99

  Jaçanas, 200

  Kingfishers, 161
  Kites, 184

  Lapwings, 201
  Larks, 148

  Martins, 142
  Merlin, 187
  Minivets, 113
  Munias, 133
  Mynas, 119

  Nightjars, 168
  Nuthatches, 104

  Orioles, 116
  Owls, 174
  Osprey, 176

  Parrots, 172
  Partridges, 193
  Pipits, 147
  Pitta, 154
  Pelicans, 215
  Plovers, 203
  Pigeons, 188

  Quails, 192

  Rails, 195
  Redstart, 128
  Robins, 126
  Roller, 159

  Sandpipers, 206
  Sand Grouse, 191
  Shrikes, 111
  Sparrows, 138
  Spoonbill, 218
  Starling, 118
  Stint, 208
  Stork, 218
  Sunbirds, 151
  Swallows, 141
  Swifts, 167

  Terns, 211

  Vultures, 177

  Wagtails, 144
  Warblers, 107
  Weaver-birds, 131
  Woodpeckers, 155

                           _BY THE SAME AUTHOR_

  BOMBAY DUCKS: An Account of some of the Everyday Birds and Beasts found
          in a Naturalist’s El Dorado. With numerous Illustrations
          reproduced from Photographs by Captain Fayrer, I.M.S. Demy 8vo.
  BIRDS OF THE PLAINS. With numerous Illustrations. Demy 8vo.
  THE MAKING OF SPECIES. With 15 Illustrations. Demy 8vo.

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Retained publisher information from the printed copy (the electronic
  edition is in the public domain in the country of publication).

--Corrected some palpable typos.

--Moved promotional material to the end of the book.

--In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by

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