Thickish beak. Male: sandy-brown above; white cheeks and sides of breast; dark chocolate-brown sides of face and most of underbody; dark brown tail with whitish outer feathers. Female: sandy-brown overall; dull rufous sides of face and underbody. Mostly loose flocks, scattered over an area; pairs or small parties when breeding; feed on ground; fond of dusty areas, where large numbers may squat about; sandy colouration makes it impossible to spot the birds, but when disturbed, large numbers suddenly take wing; superb display flight of male.
Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark
Familiar, plain, dull-coloured babbler, with somewhat variable grey-brown plumage; lightly streaked on mantle, scapulars; lightly mottled and streaked on paler underparts; sturdy pale yellow bill; white irises, pale yellowish eye ring; short dark brow giving an irate appearance; very gregarious; always in parties of six or more; noisy, skittish, easily alarmed; constantly contactcalling within the group; often the first birds in a mixed group to give the alarm; forages on ground in leaf litter, but also flies into bushes and trees.
Sexes alike. Dull brown above, profusely streaked; brown wings; olivish-brown tail long and graduated, crossrayed darker; dull white throat; pale fulvous underbody, streaked on breast sides. Pairs or small bands in open scrub; skulker, working its way low in bush or on ground; moves with peculiar bouncing hop on the ground, the long, loose-looking tail cocked up; extremely wary, vanishing into scrub at slightest alarm; weak flight, evident when flock moves from one scrub patch to another, in ones and twos.
Sexes alike. Rufous-brown above; whitish lores, short supercilium; yellow eye (iris) and orange-yellow eye-rim distinctive at close range; cinnamon wings; long, graduated tail; white below, tinged pale fulvous on flanks and abdomen. Pairs or small bands in tall grass and undergrowth; noisy but skulking, suddenly clambering into view for a few seconds, before vanishing once again; works its way along stems and leaves, hunting insects; short, jerky flight.
Sexes alike. Olive-green above; rust-red fore-crown; buffy-white underbody; dark spot on throat sides, best seen in calling male; long, pointed tail, often held erect; central tail feathers about 5cm longer and pointed in breeding male. One of India’s best-known birds; usually in pairs together; rather common amidst habitation, but keeps to bushes in gardens; remains unseen even when at arm’s length, but very vocal; tail often cocked, carried almost to the back; clambers up into trees more than other related warblers.
Sexes alike. Olive-yellow above; short blackish stripe through eye; white eye-ring distinctive; bright yellow throat and under tail; whitish breast and belly. Small parties, occasionally up to 40 birds, either by themselves or in association with other small birds; keeps to foliage and bushes; actively moves amongst leafy branches, clinging sideways and upside-down; checks through leaves and sprigs for insects and also spends considerable time at flowers; calls often, both when in branches and when flying in small bands from tree to tree.
Sexes alike. Pale brown above; whitish supercilium and lores; dark wings and tail; long, graduated tail, with buff tips and white outer feathers; buff-white underbody; tawny flanks and belly. In winter, more rufous above. The Yellow-bellied Prinia P. flaviventris is olivishgreen above, with a slaty-grey head; yellow belly and whitish throat distinctive. Pairs or several move about in low growth; skulker, difficult to see; jerky, low flight, soon vanishing into bush; tail often flicked.
Sexes alike. Rich, ashy-grey above, with rufous wings and long, whitetipped tail; whitish lores; dull buffy-rufous below. In winter, less ashy, more rufousbrown; longer tail; whitish chin and throat. Mostly in pairs; common and familiar as Common Tailorbird in some areas; actively moves in undergrowth; often flicks and erects tail; typical jerky flight when flying from bush to bush; noisy and excited when breeding.
Sexes alike. Rufous-brown above, prominently streaked darker; rufous-buff, unstreaked rump; white tips to fan-shaped tail diagnostic; buffy-white underbody, more rufous on flanks. Diagnostic calls. Pairs or several birds over open expanse; great skulker, lurking in low growth; usually seen during short, jerky flights,
low over ground; soon dives into cover; most active when breeding, during rains; striking display of male, soaring erratically, falling and rising, incessantly uttering sharp, creaking note; adults arrive on nest in similar fashion.
Sexes alike. Dark sootybrown plumage; pale edges of feathers on back and breast give scaly appearance; darker head, with slight crest; almost black on throat; white rump and red vent distinctive; dark tail tipped white. Pairs or small flocks, but large numbers gather to feed; arboreal, keeps to middle levels of trees and bushes; a well known Indian bird, rather attached to man’s neighbourhood; pleasantly noisy and cheerful, lively and quarrelsome; indulges in dust-bathing; also hunts flycatcher-style.