Birds for Beginners: Part 2 - Abhi Madangeri

Habitat is natural home or environment which supports life of a particular species. Each and every habitat is unique in itself and thus it supports birds which are dependent on the resources available in that particular habitat for survival. Knowledge about the habitat helps in understanding the bird life it supports. Though most of the habitats listed below are found everywhere, but this article mostly covers birds and birding areas in and around Karnataka.

Wetlands & Water bodies 

Rivers, reservoir, lakes, ponds, backwater, man-made tanks, marsh, swamp, etc are some examples of this ecosystem. These are important bird habitats and birds apart from using them as a source of drinking water also use them for feeding, resting, shelter, interactions, breeding, nesting and rearing young. Apart from the permanent residents a lot of migratory birds make these water bodies their temporary home during certain seasons. Losing these wetlands will not only result in extinction of birds which are totally dependent on them but will also create an ecological imbalance that cannot be reverted back. The availability and depth of water, availability of food and shelter and many other factors determine the birds that visit a wetland. Sandy islands which are formed during summer are the best places to sight River Terns and Small Pratincoles in huge number. Apart from common birds like Egrets, Heron, Cormorants, Spoonbill, Openbill Stork, Ibis, Painted Stork, Pelicans, Ducks, Darter, Water-Hen, Coot, Swamphen, Kingfishers, Jacana, Terns, etc, one can also spot many raptors like Eagle, Kite, Ospreys and Owl.


Grasslands are large open areas covered with grasses. Different types of grasslands support different kinds of birds based on their behavior and ecology. The dry grasslands of Karnataka are one of the best places to view raptors like Harriers, Kites, Eagles, Owls, Kestrels and Buzzards apart from birds like Drongo, Sparrow, Lark, Bushchat, Stonechat, Rollers, Peafowl, Pipits etc. Apart from the dry grassland, the Terai belt at the foothills of Himalaya and the sholas of the Westerns Ghats are the other types of grasslands.

Very Important (Please Read): Due to lack of trees in the grassland, most dry grassland birds nest on the ground. Off-roading and rash driving can end many lives in these grasslands which are the most threatened grassland types. Negligence and ignorance by bird-watchers and photographers is having a huge negative impact on the last surviving grassland of Bangalore.


The plains of the Deccan Plateau on the eastern side of Karnataka is home to the thorn scrub forest type. This region is dry and hot and the vegetation is of open type with scattered low thorny trees and bush. Even though the land looks dry with very little rainfall, it is one of the best places to sight birds like Sandgrouse, Quail, Francolin, Spurfowl, Peafowl, Courser, Lapwing, Yellow throated bulbul, Stone Curlew, Rock Eagle Owl and many raptors. 

Coastal & Marine Ecosystem

This habitat includes the shores, wetlands and open sea habitat. They comprise of estuaries, mangroves, backwaters, salty marshes, lagoons, rocky shores, sandy beaches and the open sea. Birding along the coastline and pelagic birding will add a lot of birds to your checklist which cannot be found inland. Some pelagic species are skuas, shearwaters,  boobies, terns, petrels, gulls, etc. Birds found along the shore and other coastal habitats are raptors like Osprey and White Bellied Sea Eagles, kingfishers like Collared and Brown Winged, and shorebirds like Sandpipers, Godwit, Plovers, Avocets, Stilts, Oystercathers, Snipe, etc.

Parks & Gardens

Parks and gardens are one of the best places to start watching and observing birds. Some common birds that visit our gardens are Prinia, Coucal, Koel, Crows, Sparrows, Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers, Tailorbird, Mynas, Barbets and Parakeets.

Farms & Fields 

Some birds like Francolins, Doves, Sparrows, Munias and Pigeons have made cultivated and agricultural land their home. Baya weavers build their nest in trees around ponds in farmlands. Birds like Swallows, Rollers and Black Shouldered Kites can be seen on power lines along the fields. Catering to the ever increasing need of growing human population has led in encroachment of natural habitats to convert them into agricultural lands. Small patches of uncultivated lands can provide cover and help in survival of birds which cannot adapt to farmland thus minimizing the impact of agriculture on natural habitats.


India has different types of forests and each of them support different species of birds. Looking for birds in the dense canopy is difficult and photographing them needs a lot of patience. Mixed hunting parties can be seen often moving around in the forest looking for food. Finding an ideal spot where birds frequent and sitting still can help photographing them. Flycatchers, Thrush, Orioles, Trogons, Bee-eaters, Fulvetta, Babblers, Blue-bird, Drongo, Minivets, Woodpeckers, Kingfishers, Pigeons, Forest Eagles, Owlets and the list of forest birds is endless.

Now that you have an idea about the habitats and the species it supports, find out the different habitats around your place. List down the bird areas around you and make a checklist of species found there. Believe me, that joy when you spot a bird you had expected knows no bounds.

If you had missed the first part click 'Birds for Beginners: Part 1' and don't forget to share this article with your friends and family.



-1 #1 Sivakumar V K 2014-10-15 15:28
Again wonderful!
Some times the very common bird for one becomes a rare one for the next person.The geography a persons mobility etc determine a lot.
When I went to UttarPradesh to live there for about 4 years the very common birds there like yellow footed green pigeon,plum headed parakeet,Asian pied starling,Indian grey hornbill,Sarus crane etc were a great delight and are rare for a person from the plains of Tamilnadu.
This is really enjoyable.
-1 #2 Mohan Watwe 2014-12-08 08:57
Nice informative article !!

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