Birds on campus

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Red-whiskered bulbul at the Campus Park

Contents

Introduction

With 1050 acres of land with thousands of trees and lots of open spaces, a large number of species can be seen on campus. Easy availability of food and water have helped maintain the population of birds at IITK. Peacocks, barbets, spparows, crows, pigeons, lapwings, babblers, egrets, golden orioles, sun-birds, gray horn-bills, kites, drongos, cuckoos, crow-pheasant (Bhardwaj), bee-eaters, owlets, owls, white-eye, Rufus tree-pie, parakeets, bulbuls, etc. are often spotted in the campus. A large number of fruit trees, and pollution-free air the atmosphere at IIT Kanpur suits the habitat constraints of many species. The large number of trees and shrubs also mean that a large number of insects are also found which are a diet component for many birds. As the campus is located on the outskirts of the city of Kanpur, just outside the campus, there are open farms and fields which further suit the habitat of many birds. Further, behind the campus walls near Hall 10 and Hall 11, bigger birds like the Sarus cranes, red-naped ibises, etc. are seen along with common birds. This can be attributed to less human interference, less pollution and plenty water as a canal flows nearby.

Where to spot these birds

Spotting birds largely depends on their habitat and way of living. Peacocks can be found throughout the campus generally on the ground or on rooftops. However when it rains peacocks generally go up in the trees. Common birds like sparrows, crows, pigeons and babblers are seen everywhere. Parakeets are generally seen high up in the trees and rarely on the ground. Bulbuls are generally seen at medium heights and come to the ground to feed. Bhardwaj are many a times seen on the ground. Bee-eaters are generally found in open fields perched on shrubs or small trees. Lapwings are generally found in fields. Grey Horn-bills are seen high up in the trees and generally in pairs of two throughout the campus. Owlets and owls are seen in medium to high trees. One may spot water hens towards the end of the airstrip road. Barbets are found near the faculty residences beyond the Academic area.

Red Wattled Lapwings

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Red Wattled Lapwing - [1]Image from Wikipedia

These small birds are fairly common throughout the country. They have a red beak and a red circle around the eyes. The head is mostly black with white spots beneath the eyes. The underparts are white while the wings are muddy in color with black towards the end. The tail is black and the legs are yellow.

These birds roost on the ground. Both the male and the female incubate the eggs. Potential predators are diverted using various techniques that these birds use to protect their eggs. Nests are often attacked by mongooses, crows and kites.

Peacocks

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Peacock displaying its feathers

Peacocks (Indian Peafowl) are large blue-green coloured birds, and can be seen in large numbers in and around the campus. One can easily spot the spectacular display of feathers during the summer months that peacocks use to attract peahens. Generally peacocks do not feed on human food, except at places like the CC canteen and the DOAA canteen, where peacocks often feed on leftovers or are given food crumbs by people eating at these canteens. Peacocks are omnivores and generally eat many types of plants (leaves, petals, seeds, etc.) and insects or small reptiles.

Peacocks have become used to the habits of humans here and one can easily get quite near these birds, though it may sometimes scare them off. Peacocks lose their spectacular tail feathers during the winter months that is in the non-mating months. Peacocks here are a delight for amateur photographers. If one is lucky, he/she may also spot brown pea-chicks along with their parent.

Common birds

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A pair of Indian Grey Hornbills spotted on the terrace of Hall-2

Crows, sparrows, pigeons, parakeets, kites and common babblers are the most seen birds of the campus. Sparrows, numbers of which are now dwindling in the cities, are easily seen in the campus. Noisy groups of babblers can be seen everywhere. Groups of crows and pigeons are seen at places with food-crumbs, that is, near canteens. Bigger birds like kites are seen near large fields or circling overhead. Generally kites can be spotted near the football and hockey fields, especially after rains when these fields become water-logged. Large numbers of birds come down to the water-logged fields.

Spotted Owlets

Owlets are small owls barely 21 inches in size found throughout the country. Spotted owlets are a common sight in the evenings and nights. One may even get with a foot or two of these birds sometimes though most the times these little brown owls just fly away as you approach.

They roost in small groups in the hollows of trees or in cavities in rocks or buildings. It nests in a hole in a tree or building, laying 3–5 eggs. They are often found near human habitation in farms and even in cities. The bird gets its name from the heavily spotted upperparts that are grey-brown and spotted with white. The underparts are white, streaked with brown. The facial disc is pale and the iris is yellow.

Grey Hornbills

These medium sized grey birds with a large black beak can be seen quite often in pairs of two. The beak has a horn-like protrusion on the top which gives the bird its name. An interesting fact about these birds is that the female seals herself within the nest with the eggs, and the male feeds the female until the eggs hatch when the seal is broken. Generally these birds are spotted high in the trees.

Barbets

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Large Green Barbet
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Red Breasted Barbet

The Red-breasted barbet and the Large Green barbet the two types of barbets found in the campus. Green barbets are more difficult to spot. THe best time to spot these birds is after sunrise more so beyond the academic area where there is less disturbance. Red-breasted barbets have have red feathers on their chest and above their beaks. The wings are green, the frontal part besides the chest are grayish. They have a white circle around their eyes followed by a black circle. Green barbets have a gray-brown frontal part, with a slightly brownish head and orange-yellow marks around the eyes.

Plum-headed Parakeets

These parakeets have a green body but a coloured head. The males have a crimson head while the females have a grayish head. They have a narrow black neck collar and a bluish tail. Their diet generally includes fleshy parts of plants like fruits, grains, etc. These birds are less spotted than normal parakeets.


Cattle Egret

The white birds are often seen in the lawns and around water or on buffaloes around the campus. Outside the library and CCD many cattle egrets are seen. Typically white in color these birds develop a yellowish plumage during their mating season. These birds nest in colonies near water bodies along with other wading birds. They have a yellow beak and yellow black eyes. These birds are found in many parts of the world.

Around the Campus - Sarus Crane

The largest of all flying birds, these 5-6 feet tall birds are found behind the campus, in open farms near the canal. They have a crimson upper neck and head with a grayish white body and a grayish-brown beak. These big birds are believed to mate for life.

References

http://www.cse.iitk.ac.in/users/amit/birds/[2]

Wikipedia page for Peafowls [3]

Wikipedia page for Spotted Owlets[4]

Wikipedia page for Indian Grey Hornbill[5]

Wikipedia page for Plum headed parakeet[6]

Wikipedia page for Sarus Cranes[7]

Wikipedia page for Red Wattled Lapwing[8]

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