Purple Rumped Sunbird, Honey Collector, Wildart talk with Prasad Natarajan - Wildlife Artist, Birds of Bangalore - Week 25

  • Title: Honey Collector!
  • Medium: Ink and water color on paper
  • Duration: 18 hours
  • January 30th, 2016

Welcome back one and all to another edition of birds of Bangalore, winter days are slowly coming to end and we need to prepare for long summer. Summers are great time for kids, after year long academic pursuit they get long holidays. As a kid I always yearned for the vacations, it meant no academics for couple of months and loads of time in the outdoors. We used to visit my uncle’s place at Tumkur, formerly known as Diamond cement factory, this place is called LSQ (Limestone Quaters) Ammasandra township, Turuvekere taluk.

They had cattle, goats, poultry, buffaloes, and a stray dog who stayed inside the compound fence only during night and many stray cats. This is exactly what I wanted, grazing cattle everyday gave me great opportunity to go into the nearby forest. My cousin always carried a catapult which was used extensively at any interesting subject. He is a great spotter, any bird, hare, even the occasional monitor lizard would not escape his sharp eyesight. Cattle grazing in the forest meant that we need to be aware of our surroundings, since there were several Sloth bear attacks.

With my cousin besides me I was not worried much and enjoyed every wonder, my first Chameleon lizard sighting is still fresh in my mind and we used visit a water-spot by noon and invariably spot Striped hyenas. My cousin could differentiate animals by their paw marks, he could also identify various scats. Midnight we used to go out searching for Black naped hare, that's when we used to come across leopard pug marks. Leopard and hyenas used to sneak into the cattle shed and take away goats or calfs. Some of my best memories are from this place. After I grew up, didn't get chance to visit uncle place often, since holidays meant many petty jobs and cricket.

However nature always has her way to bring you back, after I decided to take up wildlife art, visit to national parks and sanctuaries became part of my life again. Once I started working on this project on Birds of Bangalore, I've become more aware even about my neighboring winged friends. With many flowering plants outside my house, means it attracts various insects and birds are dependent on the nectar and as the others who are dependent on insects for their food.

A pair of Purple Rumped Sunbird (Leptocoma zeylonica) visits us everyday, they feed on nectar from the flowering plants and also the Neem flower. It's interesting watching these tiny birds go around their day-to-day business. Male is glossy radish brown body; crown is glittering green, bluish and touch of yellow spots. Their tail is colored purple and rump is colored purple giving them their name. The female has a white throat followed by yellowish breast. The upper side is olive or brownish. The upper tail coverts are black and a weak super cilium may be visible.

They are seen in variety of habitats with trees, including scrub and cultivation. They breed throughout the year. The female mainly builds nest. They use cobwebs as one of the main nest building material hence found near windows usually tapping the window, possibly at their own reflection. Both male and female take part in taking care of the eggs.

These sunbirds just like Honeybees are pollinators, hence playing a vital role in nature. Growing flowering plants are great way to attract these birds to our garden. Which will also ensure that we are able to keep these beautiful birds inside our city. Terrace gardening is picking up slowly in our city; we could also plant few flowering plants in these terrace gardens.

In 1906 a French journal mentioned about Charles Darwin's quote stating the importance of honeybees “The life of man would be made extremely difficult if the bee disappeared". Similarly, many plants are dependent on these sunbirds for pollination, if we lose these birds from our city, we could also lose many plants. Think about it, disappearing plants and a tiny bird might not be of great significance for many city dwellers however our coming generation will be the one paying heavy price due to our ignorance!

So until next time, keep watching.

Posted with: Bangalore Wildlife, Birding Destinations

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