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    Eyes on the Skies: Birds of Chennai

    Lockdown has once again left us to the confines of our homes to find recreation and inspiration. But as many activities and hobbies come to a halt, new ones take flight. Literally. Like birdwatching

    As the world around gets quieter, we are likely to spot more birds around us. From our balconies and roofs. It’s a nice break from staying inside, and often offers the calm we so need in these times.

    Here are some birds you can look out for in Chennai (apart from the common crows and pigeons). You can spot them from a naked eye, especially if there is enough green around. But of course, binoculars help.

    Is it Parakeets or Parrots?
    For this part of the world, it’s the former. You are very likely to spot some (loud) parakeets anywhere where there are multiple trees, in India. The ones seen in Chennai are likely to be Rose Ringed Parakeets named after the black or pink collar around their necks.

    Image Credits: Sumeet Mishra

    Wake up, the Sunbird is out!
    Sunbirds are common, especially around flowers since they feed on nectar. They’re hard to spot because of their tiny size, but you’re likely to know one by their hanging style nests, and high pitched sound. Sunbirds vary in colour, but they’re usually a combination of yellow, brown, black and blue.

    Image Credits: Vivek Doshi

    Sounds like a construction site: Coppersmith Barbets
    Frequently spotted in Chennai are Coppersmith Barbets. You can identify them by the unique crimson mark on their head and neck. They’re named after their sound, which is said to sound like a coppersmith striking metal with a hammer.

    Image credits: Koshy

    Been there, seen them: Bulbuls and Asian Koels
    Koels and bulbuls are common around the country. Chennai, is no exception. The male Asian Koel is pitch black with bright red eyes, and a lighter beak. The female Koel is much easier to identify with brown patterned features. The bulbuls in the region are red-vented bulbuls and can be spotted thanks to the red marks on the lower parts of the body.

    Image Credits: Rishal

    Sewing in session: Tailor birds
    The tailorbird is very common, but harder to spot because of its greenish colour and extremely small size. You can know one is around if you spot their unique nests that are created by sewing leaves together. But most likely, you’ll know them by their loud and shrill sounds. 

    Image Credits: Jaimish Gabani

    Here comes monsoon (and the waterbirds)
    During the monsoons, or if you live near any of the marshlands or waterbodies you are likely to spot water birds like pelicans, ibises, and egrets (and even ducks, at times) flying overhead. They’re often seen in groups and formations and are rare, but hard to miss in the sky.

    Image Credits: Srinivasan Venkataraman

    There is no way this list is over. There are owls, woodpeckers, mynas and many more to spot. So head to the roof, balcony or verandah, and get ready to get some hard-core neck workout. Put out a water bowl for them whenever you can. Birdwatching is a unique mix of thrill and tranquility, which might be just what we need right now.



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