Special Column
Birds of Coimbatore: The Chwing Chwing "Purple Sunbird"

By P. B. Balaji

Mar 10, 2019

Starting this week, Simplicity is pleased to bring to our readers a new section on birds of Coimbatore. This section, to be penned by Balaji P.B., an avid bird watcher and bird photographer, will introduce our readers to the avian wonders that co-habit our city. Do you know that there are close to 400 species of birds seen within the limits of Coimbatore district?

Every week one bird will be featured with a photograph and short description. Often we come across new birds and wondered what it is called. Knowing its name is a first step in getting acquainted with their fascinating world. It is a very important first step to re-establish our connect with nature. Without further delay, let’s get started!

The "Purple sunbird"

Binomial name: Cinnyrisasiaticus

Tamil name:  ஊதாத் தேன்சிட்டு

The purple sunbird (Cinnyrisasiaticus) is a small sunbird. They have a fast and direct flight and can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird but often perch at the base of flowers. The males appear all black except in some lighting when the purple iridescence becomes visible. Females are olive above and yellowish below.

They are seen in pairs or small groups and aggregations may be found in gardens with suitable flowers. 

Habitat: They are found in thin forest and garden land, including those in dense urban areas.

Food: Like other sunbirds they feed mainly on nectar, although they will also take fruits and insects, especially when feeding young.

Call: The song is rapid rattle followed by ringing, metallic notes. Other call notes include a "chwit" or "chwing!" notes.

Breeding season: The primary breeding season is before the Monsoons, April to June in northern India and January to June in Sri Lanka.

Nest: The nest is a pouch made of cobwebs, thin strips of vegetation, lichens and bark. The entrance hole on the side is often shaded by an overhanging projection. The nest is built almost entirely by the female. The nest material is not woven and most of it is held together by cobwebs. About five to ten days may be taken in the building of the nest. The inner cavity is expanded by the bird by opening its wing and turning around on the inside. Two eggs are usually laid. The nest is usually suspended from a low branch, often of thorny plants. Only the female incubates the eggs which hatch after 15 to 17 days. Males assist in feeding the chicksal 

though females involve themselves to a greater extent, making more trips as the chicks get older.

Information source:

Wikipedia contributors."Purple sunbird." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 Feb. 2019. Web. 7 Mar. 2019.

Some Interesting facts about the status of birds in Coimbatore

There are well over 1200 bird species occurring in India, with the state of Tamil Nadu reporting over 500 species. The unique and varied landscape of Coimbatore allows birds of different habitats to occur within the limits; this includes significant migrant species with majority of them being represented by the residents and local migrants. Coimbatore Nature Society, in September 2015, brought out a Birds Checklist for the Coimbatore area, based on their direct sightings during weekly trips and by their members elsewhere and by well-established and published records by birding communities of the region in general. The list at that point in time had 321 species. In the last 3 years since the checklist is first made, significant and interesting sightings have come into the list and as of May 2018, the numbers stand healthy at 383, and this should be one of the top numbers among the districts of Tamil Nadu. 

Among the birds, migrant species account for 110 species while the rest is attributed to residents and local mi-grants. The water birds comprising the ducks, egrets and herons, waders, etc are the dominant groups with 83 species. Significant additions and interesting sightings in the recent years include Bar-headed Goose, Greater Crested Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Vultures, Watercock, Grey-headed Lapwing, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Amur Falcon, Southern Grey Shrike, Siberian Stonechat, Isabelline Wheatear and Citrine Wagtail.

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