Early in September Kris and Jim Andrews presented an informative talk and slideshow on the Birds of India at the Museum. While visiting acquaintances in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Kris and Jim were treated to a bird’s-eye view at twenty stories up which afforded them a great view of the city and several high-perching birds. Interestingly, an urban park nearby once served a significant role in Indian rites associated with the dead. Customary practice called for placing deceased bodies on outside biers for vultures to consume. Jim explained that this tradition has been lost locally due to the effects of pollution in the air and environment which have decimated the vulture population.
Following their brief stay in Mumbai, Kris and Jim set out on a self-guided journey to birding regions of the country, photographing a number of India’s 1300 species along the way. Jim suggested that only about a half dozen birds inhabited both India and the northeastern United States, but many names or physical characteristics seemed to show similarities. The couple traveled the landscape exploring the Elephanta Island basalt cave temples dating from the 5th-7th centuries and embellished with Buddhist and Hindu carvings and investigated irrigation systems when not spotting birds such as Mynas, Rock Pigeons, and Green Bee-eaters.
Heading out to the Snake Temples, Kris and Jim snapped photos of Eurasian Curlews, White-throated Kingfishers, Indian Robins, Indian Grey Hornbills, Large-billed Crows, Intermediate Egrets, and Wagtails. Their journey embraced India’s “Golden Triangle”, a three-points region including the cities of Delhi ( New Delhi), Agra (where the Taj Mahal sits), and the Rajasthan desert area which includes Jaipur. Babblers and Hoopoes were documented at the Keoladeo National Park. Also, Red Wattled Lapwings (pictured above), Oriental Magpies, Pochard Ducks, Yellow-beaked Pileated Woodpeckers, Soras Cranes, Whistling Ducks, high-flying Bar-headed Geese, Purple Herons, and Painted and Pink-headed Storks were part of our birders’ visual feast. Jim and Kris featured about fifty species of birds in their slideshow attesting to the wonderful abundance of bird life residing in India’s diverse landscape.
The Birds of Vermont Museum thanks Kris and Jim Andrews for sharing their fascinating insight and images from this most remarkable journey. Please keep an eye to our website for more great programming and opportunities for armchair or lawn chair birding!