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Birds of Goa


Source: LPGG (Goa Guide of Lonely Planet)

"The Indian subcontinent is famous for its birdlife, and Goa's equitable climate and rich vegetation support an abundance of birds. Common varieties to be seen in Goa include four different species of eagle, as well as other birds of prey such as kites, buzzards, kestrels and ospreys. There are five types of pigeon, six types of dove, five varieties of cuckoo, six of kingfisher and six of woodpecker.

A trip to one of the nearby sanctuaries or along a river early in the morning will be rewarding. Apart from the diverse bird population at the Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, a wonderful variety can be seen in Bondla and the other sanctuaries near the Western Ghats. For sea birds, Morjim beach is recommended.

Most birds live in a variety of distinct habitats according to their specialised feeding or breeding requirements. A few species eke out a living even among the city's bustle and noise. Without a doubt, house crows are the best example and these noisy, gregarious black birds may be seen foraging wherever people leave their scraps.
Other less obtrusive species include humble house sparrows that forage for crumbs around dwellings; swallows that dart among buildings after insects; various species of bulbul; and the ubiquitous mynahs that flash their white wing patches when they take off.

Out of Town Birds

On the outskirts of town and in open spaces, a different range of birds can be seen. A flash of colour between ruins may turn out to be a bee-eater. Indian rollers are related to bee-eaters, but are larger and bulkier; they are attractively patterned in mauve and blue, and are common birds.

Drongos are shiny black birds with distinctively shaped tails. They typically perch on a post or even a handy cow and sally forth after insects. Pipits and wagtails strut among the stubble, sometimes in large flocks; wagtails can be recognised by their habit of pumping their tail up and down.

Common hoopoes, with their orange-brown bodies and black-and-white wings, tails and black-tipped crests, may be seen in open country, around cultivated fields and villages.
Birds of prey such as harriers and buzzards soar over open spaces looking for unwary birds and small mammals on whichthey feed.
Kites and vultures can wheel on thermals for hours on end, the kites constantly twisting their slightly forked tails. Ospreys, another species of large hawk, feed almost exclusively on fish that they seize with their vicious, hooked talons; ospreys patrol large tanks and other waterways. Waterways are rich in birdlife. Stalking on long legs at the shallow edge of tanks and ponds are various species of egret, graceful white birds with long necks and daggerlike bills.

Forest Birds

Although birds are easier to see around waterways, patches of forest often support a richer variety of species. Birds in forests are adapted to feeding in the different layers; some pick grubs off the forest floor, and others forage among the branches and leaves.
Among those heard more often than seen are woodpeckers, whose 'drumming' is caused as they chisel grubs out from under bark; colourful relatives of the woodpecker Include barbets, which habitually sit at the topmost branches of trees and call incessantly in the early morning; and Indian koels, whose loud, piercing cry in spring can be maddening.
Look out for fruiting trees in the forest - they are often a magnet for birds of many species. Fruit eaters include a number of pigeons and doves, such as green pigeons and Imperial pigeons; noisy flocks of colourful parrots; the minivets in their splendid red-and-black or orange-and-black plumage; and various cuckoo-shrikes and mynahs, including hill mynahs, an all-black bird with a distinctive yellow 'wattle' about the face. Sadly, hill mynahs are sought-after as cage birds because they can become quite tame and even learn to talk.
The jewels in the crown, for bird-watchers at least, are the huge and bizarre hornbills which, with their massive down-curved bills, resemble the toucans of South America. At the other end of the ipectrum in both size and colour, iridescent, nectar-feeding purple sunbirds could be called the jewels of the canopy.

A host of smaller birds, such as flycatchers, warblers, babblers and little tailorbirds (so-called be-ause they make a neat little 'purse' of woven grass as a nest) hawk and glean for insects in all lay-In of vegetation from the ground up."

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