Nestling in the foothills of Western Ghats, amidst green paddy fields and coconut groves, the Palakkad region of Kerala has a unique ecosystem, with its rich diversity of flora and fauna. Among the latter are several species of colourful birds.
Some of these are mentioned below.
Beautiful in their white plumage are the egrets hidden in the green carpet, searching for insects and frogs that are plentiful in the inundated paddy fields. However it is not uncommon to see them scratching in the brown stubble even after the harvesting is over. The cattle egrets cheekily ride on the backs of the cattle, pecking at the flies and insects that are bothersome to the animal, so ridding the cow of the pests and feeding the birds at the same time.
Look up at the sky and you may see the Brahminy Kite soaring majestically with its distinctive white head and breast and the red brown plumage, calling out in a long drawn nasal “kyeerrh”. Their sharp vision allows them to stake out their prey from great heights. There have been known instances of the bird swooping down and snatching fish from the fishmongers’ basket.
The White Throated Kingfisher is almost as frequently sighted as the ubiquitous crow. Like quicksilver it skims down to the water surface in a flash of bright blue and rust wings, to emerge with a fish or frog in its elongated beak. The adult bird is usually seen alone though the juveniles can be seen sometimes in pairs flitting back and forth over the irrigation canals, hoping for a catch.
With its familiar dark silhouette and its forked tail, the Indian Drongo can be seen perched on electric wires, fences and posts. In favourable light the black plumage flashes an iridescent blue and green. These are pugnacious birds often chasing away larger birds with repeated dives and loud chattering calls. Less frequently seen is the racket tailed drongo which appears to have an extension to its tail feathers, ending in two tufts.
Larger in size than the previous birds is the Coucal. Its black and russet plumage gives it a spectacular appearance. It can be seen in backyards foraging for insects, the red beady eyes on the alert, dragging its tail behind it.
Breaking the colour monotony are the green bee eaters and the parakeets ,the unimpressive brown pond heron with its heavily striped white belly and the spectacular peacocks with their raucous call. All this wonderful bird life makes us wonder if the world would be the same without these winged beauties.