Birds,  Fauna,  Nature

Sighting the pink-browed rosefinch at Mukteshwar

It was my first vacation in the hills of Uttarakhand. From my terrace room in the Ojaswi Himalayan resort in Mukteshwar, I spotted the whole Himalayan range of peaks. Getting up early in the morning to spot the peaks emerge one by one from the darkness, as the sunlight fell on them was so exciting. When I returned home, one of the first things I did was to annotate my pictures with the names of the peaks.

On the last morning, just before we were leaving for Pantnagar airport, I sat outside in the balcony, savouring the sight of the mountains. And I spotted this tiny bird perched on a Himalayan oak tree. The colour was so unusual that it made me unpack my suitcase to take out my camera. The wild Himalayan cherry tree behind it gave my pictures a pink backdrop. But it was worth clicking away although the bird was a little far away and I didn’t get too many crisp shots.

This beautiful bird is the pink-browed rosefinch. I stay in the plains and I haven’t spotted a rosefinch earlier. This particular species, Carpodacus rodochroa, inhabits the coniferous forests of the Himalayas. It was first described in 1831 by the famous zoologist and ornithologist Nicholas Aylward Vigors. This bird is found in the boreal forests of the north, and the subtropical or tropical dry forests. It inhabits India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and Pakistan.

Finches belong to the family Fringillidae. They are small to medium-sized birds with stout conical bills. These bills are adapted for eating seeds and nuts. Finches often have colourful plumage. They have a worldwide distribution except for Australia and the polar regions. The family Fringillidae contains more than two hundred species including siskins, canaries, grosbeaks and euphonias.  

This pink-browed rosefinch which I photographed is a male. The male of the species is identified by a pink supercilium, which gives it its name. The ‘eyebrow’ or the supercilium is the stripe which runs from the base of the bird’s beak above its eye. The male also has a pink rump and pink underparts.The crown and ear coverts are maroon-pink.

On the other hand, the female (as well as the juvenile male) has a buff-coloured supercilium and contrasting dark-coloured ear-coverts. The mantle has a brownish-buff coloration, while the rump is tawny. It has a strong tawny wash from the breast to the undertail coverts.

Have a look at this video from Youtube in order to see both members of the species and to hear the bird call. Its call is a loud per-lee. Hear the call here (courtesy: Andrew Spencer).

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