by Ms. Tamanna kalam
Scientific name: Hydrophasianus chirurgus (Scopoli)
Local name: Miwa, Manal pura (Tamil), Phio, Pihuya (Hindi)
Field Characters: In breeding dress, identified in flight by the large amount of white and chocolate brown in plumage, and the pointed down curved tail Non-breeding birds chiefly pale brown and white, with a black “necklace” on upper breast and minus the sickle shaped ‘pheasant’ tail. Spidery elongated toes. Sexes are alike.
Distribution: Throughout the Indian Union normally up to 2000m in Kashmir; Bangladesh; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Myanmar.
Habits: Not appreciably different from those of the Bronze winged species. In off season they collect in flocks of 50-100. At rest the non-breeding plumage is very obliterate in the environment of dry floating water lily stems and leaves.
Call: A peculiar nasal mewing tewn tewn.
Food: vegetable matter, aquatic insects and molluscs.
Nesting: Season-June to September (SW monsoon). Nest: sometimes lays directly floating singara (water chestnut Trap asp) leaves partially submerged in water.
Eggs– 4, peg top shaped, glossy greenish bronze or rufous brown, unmarked.
Scientific name: Ardeola grayii (Sykes)
Local name: Kulathu kokku, Kurutu kokku, Madai katan, Madayan (Tamil), Bagla, Andha bagla, Chama bagla, Khunch bagla (Hindi)
Size: Cattle egret
Field characters: An egret-like marsh bird chiefly earthy brown when at rest, but with the glistening white wings, tail and rump flashing into prominence immediately it flies. In breeding season acquires maroon hair like plumes on back, and long white occipital crest. Sexes are alike. Occur singly or loose parties at ponds.
Distribution: Throughout the Indian Union; Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar. Occur in plains and up to about 1000m elevation.
Habits: Found wherever there is water; river, jheel, ditch, etc. also on the sea coast in mangrove swamps, tidal mudflats, etc. its normal method of feeding is to stand hunched up at the water’s edge watching patiently for movement and jabbing at the quarry when opportunity offers. Sometimes it wades into the shallows, moving forward stealthily and with circumspection.
Food: Frogs, fish, crabs and insects. Flight typically congregations of crows and other bird.
Call: A harsh croak uttered when flying off. A low conversational note, waku and a variety of peculiar mumblings are produced by nesting pairs.
Nesting season: Chiefly May to September (SW monsoon); November to January in S. India. Nest: an untidy twig platform like a crow’s up in large mango, tamarind and such like trees shared with other egrets. Frequently within town limits; not necessarily near water.
Eggs: 3 to 5, pale greenish blue.