Birds for Beginners: Part 1 - Abhi Madangeri

This article will introduce you to the amazing world of bird watching ad bird photography and hope it kick starts your journey into the fascinating and colorful world of our feathered friends. Birds are beautiful and addictive. If you are tired and stressed, the fascinating world of birds can be a great stress-buster. Birds are warm blooded feathered vertebrates which lay eggs. The wings which are modified forelimbs along with hollow bones and evolved body parts and structure aid them in their flight. Though the first thing that comes to our mind on hearing the word 'Bird' is flight, not all birds can fly.

Did You Know: The Great Nicobar Crake a bird that was recently (Year 2011) discovered on the Great Nicobar Island might turn out to be the only flightless bird in India if the species designation is confirmed and also if the study confirms its actually flightless.

Do you know the difference between bird watching, birding, bird photography and photo birding?

Bird watching: It is observation of birds and their behavior. Bird watchers are not much interested in increasing the count of different bird species they sight but are happy observing them and their action. 

Birding: Unlike bird watchers birders are more interested in sighting as many birds as possible and striking them off their checklist. Numbers matter for a birder.

Bird Photography: Clean and neat background, sharp bird, bird in flight, etc are the expectations of a bird photographer. Bird photographers work hard to get that perfect photo.  

Photo birding: This is similar to birding but you strike off the bird from the checklist only on getting an image of it even if it is a record shot.

Not that we have to strictly follow any one of the above activities, it would be better if our main focus is on any one of them. I indulge in bird watching, birding and photo-birding, but my main interest lies in bird photography and that interest dictates my approach and planning when I am on the field. Bird watching helps me understand the birds and their behavior which in turn helps a lot in my bird photography. Birding/Photo-birding helps me document the bird sighting, its location and time, which helps me in planning my next image of a specific species.

Where do you find birds?

I have seen many people who get into nature photography and are interested in mammals (especially the big cats) end up getting into bird photography. The reason behind this is you find birds everywhere, right from your backyard to the remote jungles. The best place to start this interesting hobby is your home. Start observing the birds that visit your garden and you will be surprised at the number of different varieties of birds you will sight, you would end up wondering how you missed seeing so many beautiful neighbors all these years. Here is a list of birds my aunt sighted in her garden in just one week of starting bird photography - Jungle Myna, House Sparrow, Jungle Crow, Purple Rumped Sunbird, Pied Bushchat, White Breasted Kingfisher, Asian Koel, Common Tailorbird, Scaly Breasted Munia, Oriental Magpie Robin, White Browed Fantail Flycatcher, Red Vented Bulbul, Rose ringed parakeet, Coppersmith Barbet, Brahminy Starling, Southern Coucal, Laughing Dove, Black Drongo and Large Grey Babbler. Thats 19 species in just one week!!!

Her garden and the surrounding area has a potential of bagging at least 35-40 species which I can easily list down. In fact I gave her a small checklist of birds she can find around her house and she photographed most of them in a matter of few days. If you are wondering how can I be so sure of the birds that are found there, let me tell you its no rocket science, you just need to know the habitat and birds that are found there. 

Did you know:RK Laxman the creator of 'The Common Man' loved to watch crows and make their sketches. He had once said "The common crow is really an uncommon bird". If you observe the crows, you will notice some have grey neck and some are all black. The former is called the House Crow (Corvus splendens), while the latter is a Jungle Crow (Corvus culminatus), they are two different species.

More about birds and its habitat in the next part of this article. Till then, go out, explore your garden, city and surroundings, and if possible publish your list in the comments section. 

Bracketing Circle will soon introduce a new topic 'Know Your Birds' in its newsletter. So if you have not yet subscribed to the newsletter, go to the Home page and do it now. 

Here is a list of common birds that you can strike off the checklist before the 2nd part of this article is published:

Ashy Prinia

Asian Koel

Black Kite

Black Drongo

Brahminy Kite

Cattle Egret

Common Myna

Common Tailorbird

Coppersmith Barbet


House Crow

House Sparrow

Jungle Myna

Little Cormorant

Little Egret

Magpie Robin

Pond Heron

Purple Rumped Sunbird

Purple Sunbird

Red Vented Bulbul

Rock Pigeon

Rose Ringed Parakeet

Spotted Dove

White Breasted Kingfisher



+2 #1 Abhijit Naik 2014-08-28 17:23
Nice article Abhi, it gives immense pleasure to see such a great work from one among us :)

All the best
+2 #2 varsha jambagi 2014-10-15 09:45
Yes really grateful to Abhi and Gouri for inspriring us to first basically start DSLR photography and then progress to Bird photography.Bef ore buying the birding lens apprehension was will I be able to it as frequently I do my wide angle lens for nature and landscaping ..for I always thought in order to shoot birds one needs to visit famous bird sanctuaries, etc. But after buying a lens ..I started noticing so many species of birds all around my house in the garden.And even close ups of simple sparrows and bulbuls which we ignored were a delight to watch and capture.Request Abhi to post the album of a simple Sparrow which looks so amazing.Now I am surprised to find the birding lens being used more often than the wide angle .Enjoy birding and the journey of learning their ways and mannerisms- nothing can eat the colourful world of birds-Gods amazing creation !
+2 #3 Kiran Kashyap 2014-10-15 13:36
Very nice posts.! this makes a lot of sense.
+2 #4 Sivakumar V K 2014-10-15 15:20
This really wonderful. I am watching birds for the past 45 years and today only I was able to find the various categories.So beautiful.
This is really very nice!
0 #5 Mohan Watwe 2014-12-08 08:48
Nice article !!
0 #6 M Vivekanand Bhaktha 2015-07-13 11:51
Abhi I appreciate your style of writing simple, easy and straightforward . Its inspiring and motivating for newcomers.
Its an amazing and interesting world of Avifauna out there. Many have asked me how do you manage to so many birds I always tell them "Open your eyes and ears and just look around, nature has so much to offer"
+1 #7 Abhi 2015-07-15 06:37
Thank you all for the encouraging words!!!
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