The Birds of Kerala

One morning I awoke from a bit of racket outside on my balcony. You see, I’ve taken to sleeping with the windows open when there’s a breeze off the ocean.

A crow was sitting on the railing looking as if it wanted something. I propped myself up and said, “Good morning, what are you doing here?” To which he replied, “Caw!” and promptly flew away.

I got up to take a look and saw a lovely yellow parakeet, clearly frightened and distressed, sitting on the balcony floor. It watched me as I closed the windows, but beyond that, it didn’t move.

Little yellow parakeet

Little yellow parakeet

After breakfast, I went back to check on it and when it saw me this time, it tried to fly up to the air conditioner, but it wasn’t able to get enough lift, and ended up landing in a corner, thankfully obscured by any passing predator birds. I left it alone so it could hopefully regain its strength, and I got ready for work. When I checked again about an hour later, it had gone.

I think it may have been a caged parakeet, as I’ve seen many of those here, and I didn’t find this particular one in my Birds of Kerala book (by C Sashikumar, Praveen J, Muhamed Jafer Palot and PO Nameer).

Except for the color, it reminded me of the parakeet my sister and I had as children. Ours was green and so we named her Kelly. While her cage was covered at night when she slept, during the day, our mother let her out.

Kelly had a small rug at the bottom of her cage with a Ferris wheel and other toys. She used to fly to the top of the Ferris wheel and ride it down. She would fly through the house, perching where she felt safe, but her favorite spot was on top of a lamp shade on a dresser in our parent’s bedroom. Here, she could look at herself in the mirror and say, “pretty bird.” She had quite a vocabulary, but her words had an interesting lilt to them thanks to our English mum.

One day, Kelly got out and was flying around the neighborhood. We had everyone calling to her, trying to get her to fly down and land on one of our outstretched fingers, but she seemed to be enjoying her freedom. Our mother said she would come back home before dark because she had no other home to go to. So, we put her cage on the front porch with the door open and sure enough, as afternoon faded, she flew back ‘home.’ We closed the door and took her back inside and she never ventured outside again.

In my mind, I see this little yellow parakeet flying back ‘home.’ After its experience with the crow, I’m sure it was missing the safety of its cage.

The Birds of Kerala is a very large book, filled with amazing birds of all kinds with long tails and bright colors. Many of them are marked as vulnerable, threatened, near endangered, or endangered. Some are near extinct with dates from when and where one was last seen.

I doubt I’ll see many of the birds from this book, but I do see quite a few water birds and one magnificent Brahminy Kite that presumably lives nearby at the Mangalavanum bird sanctuary and frequently flies over the waters near my flat.

I first saw these amazing raptors last summer at Alleppey and thought they were Eagles because of their bright white heads. I was told they were Hawks, and while they are listed in a category with Hawks and Eagles, the Birds of Kerala shows them as Brahminy Kites. They have beautiful rust colored bodies, with black triangles on their wing tips. I can see the triangles clearly on the one that glides below me on the wind currents.

Brahminy Kite

Brahminy Kite

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a whole row of Bee-eaters sitting on a wire, and beautiful Small Blue Kingfishers that look nothing like those in the Northeastern US. Each night at dusk, Swallows fly outside my office window catching mosquitoes. (I’d like to invite them in to take care of the pesky ones inside my office!)

Birds on a wire (Blue-tailed Bee-eaters)

Birds on a wire (Blue-tailed Bee-eaters)

The other night, I dreamt about a magnificent bird with iridescent blue feathers and a very long tail. Upon waking, I looked through the Birds of Kerala to see if I could find it, but it wasn’t there. I guess that’s what I get for reading Dr. Seuss before bedtime.

Today the Brahminy Kite was back with a friend. It must be mating season in Kerala.

Birds I’ve spotted and have been able to identify:
Little Cormorant, Little Egret, Median Egret, Cattle Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Black Kite, Brahminy Kite, Western Marsh Harrier, Common Sandpiper, Brown-headed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Tern (not sure which one), Small Blue Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Common Swallow, Large Pied Wagtail, Red-whiskered Bulbul, House Sparrow, House Crow and many, many Pigeons — but not as many as in Rittenhouse Square.

Captured in flight

Captured in flight

9 thoughts on “The Birds of Kerala

  1. Jennifer Hamady says:

    You are amazing! Love reading your posts. ANY CHANCE you’ll be in DC on June 29th by the way? Mom’s having a baby shower lunch for me at a friend’s in Potomac. Would LOVE to see you!!! Jen

  2. Tom Tobben says:

    Colleen, I’m enjoying following along with your blogs and the various personal detours you take along the way. By the way, speaking of the kingfisher, if you haven’t already done so during your stay in India, be sure to try some Kingfisher beer. It’s India’s most popular beer if I remember correctly, and it’s bottled in Bangalore. During my various trips to India, and here in the States, it’s still one of my favorite beers.

    • Hi Tom, Thanks for the tip. Yes, I’ve seen the posters everywhere and it definitely seems to be the beer to drink. I’ve tasted it myself and encouraged others who have visited to give it a try. I agree, it’s very nice. Happy to hear you are enjoying my posts.

  3. metamorph says:

    I found a picture http://news.softpedia.com/newsImage/Ubuntu-12-10-a-k-a-Quantal-Quetzal-2.jpg/ there are others of different colors, but the Resplendent Quetzal gets all the attention. The Dream Bird is likely an ally or guide. Nice writing. Peace, Dean

    Scope out my website about my book,* Freakout First Aid*, http://www.freakoutfirstaid.com

    ****************************************************************** ******END OF TRANSMISSION**********************************

    • Wow, Dean, that’s SOME bird! Not my Dream Bird, but I would LOVE to see one of those!! I like the idea that my Dream Bird is an ally or guide. I will have to look for him in future dreams. Shungo!

  4. metamorph says:

    Here is a blue one showing the tail. http://jrscience.wcp.muohio.edu/tropics/costa_rica_06/monteverde/monteverde_morning_a/quetzal_male_side.html

    Scope out my website about my book,* Freakout First Aid*, http://www.freakoutfirstaid.com

    ****************************************************************** ******END OF TRANSMISSION**********************************

  5. bill says:

    C, you have become a very accomplished bird watcher. I think you saved your bird from the crow. I have seen a crow being chased by a small bird. The small bird made the mistake of getting too close, the crow flipped on its back, caught the small bird and they drove it into the ground before it started eating. Hope you are right your small friend went home. Any projection as to whether you are coming back after June? regards, bill

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