Birds,  Fauna,  Flora,  Musings,  Nature

The blue-winged leafbird and the blushing Palash

In the backyard of the quarter just behind my house was a tall tree. Bare. Bereft of leaves. It had probably lived its life. But it was a photographer’s delight. For it was here that I got my shots of a line of small green bee-eaters snuggling together to beat the winter chill. Or the elusive shot of the black-rumped flameback woodpecker, tok-toking in search of termites within its crumbling bark. Or the brilliant blue of the white-throated kingfisher. Minus the foliage, the shots were clear and easy to take.

Until new owners moved into that accommodation. In their eagerness to clean their garden, they chopped down that tree two years ago. And I was heart broken. There were too many bushes and brambles, but no vantage site any longer where I could capture bird pictures without hurdles.

And last year, I noticed a Palash (Flame of the Forest) shrub in the vacant plot next to ours. It was just where my camera could get an unhindered shot. How I wish this blooms with brilliant orange flowers next Holi, I prayed. And lo and behold, my prayer was heard! This summer, the Palash bore its first flaming inflorescence.

Yesterday morning as I glanced at it, I mumbled: “Wouldn’t it be great to capture a green leaf bird pecking away at the orange flowers?” And by evening, someone in the heavens had granted my wish! Enjoy these pictures of the blue-winged leaf bird. For bonus, both Mr and Mrs Leaf Bird paid a visit together. Enthralled!

Leafbirds belong to the genus Choropsis. Their bright green plumage is attractive. There are around 12 different species of leafbirds. The species that I have spotted in Sevagram are the blue-winged leafbird, and one of its subspecies, the Jerdon’s leafbird. They are frequent visitors to the plantain patch in my kitchen garden, where they end up camouflaged like a banana.

But what makes me marvel these birds are their ability to mimic the calls of other birds. One after the other, they switch their calls to perfectly copy calls of other birds. Very talented good looking feathery creatures!

It has been a fantastic evening. Someone up there is definitely listening to what I ask. So I’d better be careful what I ask for!

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