To believe is to see: Indian Pitta

While in Thekkady earlier this year, I had spotted a stubby bird I had never seen before. I was taking an evening stroll behind the cottage. And there she was, like a doodle crayoned by a prodigiously-gifted child, about 100 meters away from me.

She looked incredibly familiar. But I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I took a few photographs of her, as the sun went down, and returned to the cottage. I pulled out my copy of “Birds of the Indian Subcontinent” by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp and Tim Inskipp to find out her name.

Indian Pitta, Thekkady

This book is more than just a field guide. We share a “honey, I’m home” kind of relationship. I have spent many endless nights with the book on my couch. While traveling I go through it only after I am done with my quota of birding for the day.

It turned out that I have been so enamored with the contents of the book that I have never bothered to notice the bird on its front cover page – The Indian Pitta.

The Indian Pitta is a passerine bird found all over the Indian subcontinent, forming a superspecies with three other birds – the Fairy Pitta, the Mangrove Pitta and the Blue-Winged Pitta.

She looks like a crayon box with stubby legs and a short bill. The upper region of her body is bathed in parrot-green, and the lower parts – doused in the hues of orange. Her tail feathers are smudged in bright red and blue. And her black coronal stripes give her an air of mischievousness, like a cat-burglar in search of insects.

I haven’t spotted the Indian Pitta since. But I am pretty sure that I will remember her name the next time I see her.

Indian Pitta, Thekkady

I’ve touched autumn
only inside yellowing pages
of hardbound books,
and on the cheeks
of a girl as we bookmarked
each other’s morning breaths
by a babbling brook.

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23 comments

  1. I don’t think they are passage migrants in South India especially in Kerala where you saw the bird . But in some parts of India like in Nagpur , Kolkata and in Mumbai they enjoy the status of Passage Migrant. So when I got my first shot of a Pitta in my city I was ecstatic.

    Happy Birding !!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooh, she’s pretty. I haven’t had the luxury of spotting any birds other than the pigeons, crows, and vultures(?) that frequent the sky – and of course, the occasional parrot or sparrow. Maybe, you just need to have an eye for that, huh? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’ve never seen a vulture?? On googling, I hear they’re a pretty rare sight, but I’ve had someone tell me, “Those big (somewhat scary) birds we see in the sky? Yeah, they’re vultures.” So, I’m assuming I’ve seen vultures. 😀 Not that up close, but yeah.

        Liked by 1 person

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