Rare necessities: Endangered birds of India

Whenever I spot rare birds, I am giddy with joy. My confidence begins to build. I realize how much they mean to me. And I start to emotionally invest in them. But if they decide to leave before I can take a photograph, whiffs of anguish flood my nostrils. As they disappear into oblivion – I pull a face and swat imaginary flies. I feel dejected.

It’s like being punched in the eardrum while swimming. I am disoriented.

In a few hours, the melancholic vibe is replaced by a twinge of guilt. I realize, rather sheepishly, that I have spotted three endangered species of birds in southern India. Besides the hundreds of endemic and migratory birds, I have also seen a few – notoriously secretive about their lives.

The Red-Headed Vulture and the White-Bellied Blue Robin even magnanimously posed for me. Only the Kashmir Flycatcher didn’t stay long enough for a photograph. I saw a rare Peninsular Bay Owl too. But I had to pay a professional birder to find her. It doesn’t count.

But I can’t complain. I don’t do much to make our planet a better place for birds. Apart from placing bowls of water on the terrace during summers, I do nothing at all. They don’t owe me any sort of generosity, much less a sighting of their wildest and rarest family members.

I should be grateful that I even get to see crows and pigeons .

Peter Ericsson

(source: pbase.com)

I can’t let it go, though. For instance, I still ache to find Austen’s Brown Hornbill – an extremely rare bird found only in the Brahmaputra valley. I want it so much that I forget that I have spotted three different species of hornbills in less than three years.

To bastardize a joke I once read, letting go is like losing a tooth. Even though it is gone, I run my tongue over the base, thinking there is a chance that it may feel good in a strange way.

Never weep over
a wounded rose,
she will only catch a cold.

(Photographs – without sources: Thekkady, Valparai, Kodaikanal, Palani)



  1. Well, you may feel bad about missing what to you are rare birds, but for me – and I’m certain many other people – who has no access at all to the birds of India, ALL your sightings are magnificent, rare or otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww that felt good! Thank you, dear friend ❤

      I guess I underestimate, at times, the effect of endemic Indian birds on unsuspecting (and adorable) masses.

      Tis one of the reasons why I blog in this space, Val. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s to spread some love from India.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. While seeing rare birds does indeed overwhelm with emotion – I’ll always remember seeing yellow-eyed penguins and would love to see a kakapo, I’m grateful for everyday birds that keep me going through tough times. I too put water out and I enjoy my favourite bird, the plain blackbird, sipping and taking a bath. Such simplicity but how invigorating! I agree with Val that it’s a pleasure to experience Indian birds through your images and words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly, Tracy. It’s such a treat to have kindred souls rummage through the tail-feathers and dry seeds in this inconsequential space of mine. Without such earthly support, I doubt if I would be writing so often. Extremely grateful! Thanks again, dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Very sobering, Madhu. Selfishly, I am glad that I got to see the red-headed vulture with naked eyes in my lifetime. But their disappearance leaves my heart aching.

      We’ve come too far, haven’t we? (sigh)

      Liked by 1 person

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