Sexes alike. Grass-green plumage; brownish head, neck and upper back, streaked white; bare orange patch around eye. The White-cheeked Barbet M. viridis (23cm) of S India, has a white cheek-stripe. Solitary or in pairs; occasionally small parties; strictly arboreal; keeps to fruiting trees, often with other frugivorous birds; difficult to spot in the canopy; noisy in hot season; strong, undulating flight.
Sexes alike. Grass-green plumage; yellow throat; crimson breast and forehead; dumpy appearance. The Crimson fronted Barbet M. rubricapillus of the W Ghats, south of Goa, has a crimson chin, throat, foreneck and upper breast. Solitary, in pairs or small parties; strictly arboreal; feeds on fruiting trees, often with other birds; visits flowering Erythrina and Bombax trees for flower nectar; often spends early morning sunning itself on bare branches.
Male: shining golden-yellow and black above; crimson crown and crest; black throat and sides of head, with fine white streaks; white underbody, streaked black, boldly on breast. Female: black crown spotted with white; crimson crest. Usually pairs, sometimes half a dozen together; widespread and common; moves jerkily up and around tree stems or clings on undersides of branches; taps out insects; often associates in mixed hunting parties; may descend to ground, picking off ants and other insects.
Male: brownish-black above, spotted all over with white; golden-brown forehead and crown; small scarlet crest; pale fulvous below throat, streaked brown; scarlet patch in centre of abdomen distinctive. Female: lacks scarlet crest. Solitary or pairs; sometimes small bands of up to 6 birds; occasionally seen with mixed hunting parties; moves in jerks along tree stems and branches; hunts in typical woodpecker manner; rather confiding in some areas; birds keep in touch with faint creaking sounds.
Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
Small woodpecker. Male: barred brown and white above; paler crown with short, scarlet streak (occipital); prominent white band from just above eyes extends to neck; pale dirty-brown-white below, streaked black. Female: like male but lacks the scarlet streaks on sides of crown. The male Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker D. canicapillus (14cm) of the Himalaya has short scarlet occipital crest; black upper back and white-barred lower back and rump. Mostly in pairs; often a part of mixed bird parties in forest; seen more on smaller trees, branches and twigs, close to ground and also high in canopy; quite active.
Indian Spot-billed Duck
Sexes alike. Blackish-brown plumage, feathers edged paler; almost white head and neck; black cap; dark, broad eye-stripe; green speculum bordered above with white; black bill tipped yellow; coral-red legs and feet. Pairs or small parties walk on marshy land and wet cultivation, or up-end in shallow water; usually does not associate with other ducks; when injured, can dive and remain underwater, holding on to submerged vegetation with only bill exposed.
Sexes alike. Grey-brown and rufous above, barred and blotched; buffy-rufous below; narrow cross-bars on throat and upper breast; fine black markings on abdomen and flanks; black loop around throat encloses bright rufous-yellow throat; female smaller, with indistinct spur. Small parties, digging and moving amidst scrub and grass; seen on country roads, dust bathing or feeding; quick to take to cover on being alarmed, scattering over the area.
Glistening blue neck and breast; wire-like crest and very long tail distinctive. Female lacks blue neck and breast; browner plumage; lacks the long train. Familiar bird of India; solitary or in small parties, several feales with one or more males; waryin the forested parts, rather tame and confiding in many parts of W
and C India around human habitation; ever-alert, gifted with keen eyesight and hearing. National bird of India. Tail feathers often illegally sold to tourists
Sexes alike. White plumage; blackish-green and white wings; blackish-green breast-band and black tail; rich rosy-pink wash on greater wing-coverts; large, slightly curved orangish-yellow bill. Young: pale dirty brown, the neck feathers edged darker; lacks breast-band. Common and gregarious; feeds with beak partly submerged, ready to grab prey; when not feeding, settles hunched up outside water; regularly soars high on thermals.
Ashy-grey above; whitish below, close-barred with rust-brown; grey throat-stripe; in flight, the multi-banded tail and roundish wings help identification; golden-yellow eyes and yellow legs and feet seen at close range. The migrant Eurasian Sparrowhawk A. nisus is very similar but a closer look reveals the longer legs, rufous cheek-patch and absence of mesial stripe in nisus. Usually solitary; hides in leafy branches; pounces on unsuspecting prey; occasionally chases small birds; soars over forest.