Ashy Prinia at Madiwala lake

Bangalore, one the fastest growing cities in India, has been known as the Garden City. The city boasts of congenial climate that birds thrive in. Three hundred or more varieties of birds have been identified around Bangalore and its peripheries. With exponential growth of the IT hub of India, the city has seen rapid changes and this has affected its bird population. Some birds have shifted their nesting areas, some have become mere visitors and some have found a place on the endangered species list.

In this series on ‘Birds of Bangalore’, we will talk about some of the birds seen in the city and its gardens and lakes. We will give an introduction to the birds, tips on how to identify them and other interesting facts and observations. We hope you will find our article helpful in getting you started on bird watching.

Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis)

Characteristics and identification: Smaller in size than the regular sparrow, this bird has a short bill. It gets its name from its ash-coloured top body. An interesting characteristic of this bird is the constant shaking of its tail. There are no differences between the sexes. It is usually seen in pairs around grasslands and gardens. It has a sharp call, which gets shriller as it flies higher.

Ashy Prinia

Ashy Prinia. I shot this picture at Madivala lake when I spotted the Ashy Prinia in the midst of some undergrowth on the lake side. I had to wait for some 15 minutes to get a good view, as it moves around quite fast. The photo clearly shows its strong legs, red eyes, and ashy upper body.

Areas to sight it around Bangalore: It is fond of well watered areas. So the best places to sight it are Lalbagh, Cubbon park, Hebbal and Madivala lakes. The bird frequents localities with lots of green cover and marshy surroundings. Its small size helps it go unnoticed, even at close quarters.


Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea)

Characteristics and identification: The bird belongs to the cuckoo family. It has a long tail and a beautiful call used by the male in the breeding season. The male Koel is black in colour and female is spotted (seen in photo). The Asian Koel is extremely shy in nature, and is often found in trees and shrubs with thick foliage. It feeds mainly on fruits, caterpillars and insects and normally nests on trees which cater to its feeding habits.

Asian Koel

Asian Koel. This photo was shot at Hebbal lake. I spent at least an hour to get a good shot of this interesting bird.

Areas to sight them around Bangalore: These birds can be present anywhere but are extremely hard to sight. They are best recognised by their musical call. Hebbal lake, Cubbon park, IISC and Lalbagh provides enough living space for them.

Green Bee-Eater (Merops orientalis)

Characteristics and identification: The most attractive characteristic of this bird is it is extremely colour rich. The bird is also 9 inches in size, with a tail of central feathers extending to 2 inches. The bird has green under parts. It moves all around the place without a specific trend, but mostly in plains and around bushes. There is no difference between male and female in this species. The bee-eater emits an easily-identifiable nasal sound and eats bees, insects and ants.

Bee Eater

Green Bee Eater. This photo was shot at Lalbagh, on a lucky day, when the bird appeared to be relaxed enough for me to click it!

Areas to sight them around Bangalore: The bird can be seen around green areas, often perching on trees and electrical lines eating what it likes the most – insects. It can be seen in huge numbers around IISC, Bagmane lake and in few numbers at Cubbon park, Hebbal lake, Lalbagh, but hard to sight there among the thick trees.


Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis)

Characteristics and identification: This bird is small in size. The male and female differ in the colour, while the male has a black top, the female has a grayish black top (seen in photo). The Oriental Magpie is the national bird of Bangladesh. It is commonly found near cultivation land in human habitats. The bird likes to remain near ground levels, but the male gets to the top and sings during the breeding season. It likes a diet of insects, leeches and fish.

Oriental Magpie Robin

Oriental Magpie Robin-Female. This photo was shot around Manchinbelle dam, where the female was feeling a little shy with me in close proximity to her. I could get a clean shot before she took off.

Areas to sight them around Bangalore: I have found this bird quite common around parks, and especially near the Bagmane lake. It also frequents the water sources near IT parks.

Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)

Characteristics and identification: It’s a small bird, just 11-12 cms in length. The male and female are alike but young ones do not have a dark head. It is a common bird sighted in cultivation and woodland areas. The Munia normally eats seeds and relies on plants and cultivation areas for the same. Its beak is specially designed to suit the purpose.

Scaly Breasted Munia

Scaley Breasted Munia. This photo was shot at Lalbagh when the bird was moving in a pair from branch to branch and I was forced to walk behind them. The bird moves extremely fast among branches, though it is not as shy as the Prinia and the Asian Koel.

Areas to sight them around Bangalore: The bird can be seen in Lalbagh and other parks around the city and in huge numbers around TG Halli and Manchinbelle Dam.

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  1. Well written Saurabh. I am happy to hear about the series – ‘Birds of Bangalore’. I will surely follow this series. Will it be weekly or monthly?

    It would be great to hv a small introductory session to rookies like me on bird watching.

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