widespread resident

Red-naped Ibis

Sexes alike. Glossy black plumage; slender, blackish-green, down-curved beak; red warts on naked black head; white shoulder-patch; brick-red legs. The Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus is deep maroon-brown above, with purple-green gloss from head to lower back; feathered head and lack of white  shoulder-patch distinctive. Small parties; spends most time on the drier edges of marshes and jheels; when feeding in shallow water, often feeds along with other ibises, storks, spoonbills.

Black-headed Ibis

Sexes alike. White plumage; naked black head; long, curved black bill; blood-red patches seen on underwing and flanks in flight. Breeding: long plumes over neck; some slaty-grey in wings. Young: head and neck feathered; only face and patch around eye naked. Gregarious; feeds with storks, spoonbills, egrets and other ibises; moves actively in water, the long, curved bill held partly open and head partly submerged as the bird probes the nutrient-rich mud.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Short, thick-set heron with stout black bill; adult has black crown, mantle, scapulars; short white supercilium and forehead; white to pale grey underparts;  pearl grey wings; two long, white, nape plumes when breeding; large, ruby red eyes; in flight, broad, rounded, grey wings, with dark back and short, thick neck diagnostic; juvenile brown, streaked and spotted buff-white above, buff, streaked with brown below; solitary or in scattered flocks when feeding; communal diurnal rooster and breeder; often near habitation; crepuscular and nocturnal.

Intermediate Egret

Medium-sized white egret variable in size and difficult to tell apart from Great, except for shorter, thicker, less curved neck; shorter, finer bill; shorter, less extensive gape; breeding bird has breast and tail plumes, crest, but no head plumes; black bill, legs, feet; yellow-green facial skin; non-breeding bird has yellow bill; black, rather than yellow feet, yellow bill of nonbreeding bird, and larger size distinguish it from Little; somewhat gregarious; small scattered or mixed  hunting flocks; colonial breeder.

Indian Pond Heron

Sexes alike. A small heron, commonest of family in India; thick-set and earthybrown in colour, with dull green legs; bill bluish at base, yellowish at centre  with black tip; neck and legs shorter than in true egrets. Difficult to sight when settled; suddenly springs to notice with a flash of white wings, tail and rump. Breeding: buffy-brown head and neck; white chin and upper throat, longish crest; rich maroon back; buff-brown breast. Non-breeding: streaked dark brown head and neck; grey-brown back and shoulders; more white in plumage. Found around water, even dirty roadside puddles; ubiquitous in the plains; found in  hills up to 1,200m; remains motionless in mud or up to ankles in water, or slowly stalks prey. Hunts alone; roosts in groups with other pond herons and occasionally crows.

Purple Heron

Sexes alike. A slendernecked, lanky bird. Slaty-purple above; black crown with long, drooping crest; rufous neck with prominent black stripe along its length; white chin and throat; deep slaty and chestnut below breast; almost black on wings and tail; crest and breast plumes less developed in female. Solitary; crepuscular; extremely shy but master of patience; freezes and hides amidst marsh reeds; when flushed, flies with neck outstretched. Active in early mornings.

Cattle Egret

Sexes alike. A snow-white egret seen on and around cattle and refuse heaps. Breeding: buffy-orange plumes on head, neck and back. Non-breeding: distinguished from Little Egret by yellow beak; from other egrets by size. Widespread; equally abundant around water and away from it; routinely attends to  grazing cattle, feeding on insects disturbed by the animals; follows tractors; scavenges at refuse dumps and slaughter houses. Often seen on the backs of  buffaloes.

Little Egret

Sexes alike. A slender, snow-white waterbird. White plumage; black legs, yellow feet and black bill diagnostic. Breeding: nuchal crest of two long plumes;  feathers on back and breast lengthen into ornamental filamentous feathers. The Intermediate Egret Mesophoyx intermedia is larger with black feet. The Great  Egret Casmerodius albus is the largest with a noticeable kink in its neck. Small flocks feed at edge of water, sometimes wading into the shallower areas;  stalks prey like typical heron, waiting patiently at edge of water.

Indian Cormorant

Medium-sized cormorant, smaller and slighter than Great, with thinner head, neck and bill; told from Little by larger size, longer, thinner neck, bill, and shape of head – oval rather than angular; no crest; breeding plumage black with bronze-green sheen, white ear-tuft, white flecked-feathers on neck, blackish gular pouch; non-breeding shows browner plumage, no ear-tuft or white plumes, yellower gular pouch; immature whiter below; gregarious; often in flocks; will fish together  with Little; colonial nester.

Little Cormorant

Sexes alike. India’s smallest and most common cormorant; short, thick neck and head distinctive; lacks gular patch. The Indian Cormorant P. fuscicollis is larger with a more oval-shaped head. Breeding adult: black plumage has blue-green sheen; silky white feathers on fore-crown and sides of head; silvery-grey  wash on upper back and wing-coverts, speckled with black. Nonbreeding adult: white chin and upper throat. Gregarious; flocks in large jheels; swims with only head and short neck exposed; dives often; the hunt can become a noisy, jostling scene; frequently perches on poles, trees and rocks, basks with wings spread open.