Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Beautiful Mr What Woo Hoo and his Sound of Music

i think i have mentioned somewhere in my blog that i love sounds. i am not much of a pin drop silence person. Rather that kind of dead silence freaks me out although i know rationally there is nothing called dead silence because our planet has eternal sound vibrations and silence or noise is much within the own self that one has to come to terms with.

Bob Dylan had said once, " The radio makes hideous sounds." but as a kid i loved those hideous sounds that the big radio made when i used to play with those carom board striker- sized- round -tuning dials of the big Philips Radio. The Whoo whoo frequency tuning happening in between i loved and enjoyed the sound of it and sometimes would continue to play until i was caught and stopped from doing so by one of my parents when they would chide me rather discipline me, '' not to mess with the RADIO !! ".

For quite sometime i had been hearing occasional chords of the same Whoo hoo. Not exactly like the big Radio but a similar sound spaced out. i was hearing it everyday, definitely knowing it to be of a bird of some kind but as each day progressed and it became routine i continued with what i was doing without much fuss over this Whoo hoo. But i guess Mr Whoo hoo whoever it was until not known to me maybe was not too pleased with my complacency and decided to reveal himself one fine morn as i went to the terrace as usual to be with my favorites. To enjoy the dawn along with my green babies and also before the heat got unbearable to feed them their daily sufficient drops of some cool fresh water which should see them replenished enough to beat the heat during the day. So as i started out on my job i heard a distinct whooo hoo, ambient and clear. Felt like it was coming from somewhere near. And when i looked up i saw a green bird. No not a parrot but something which is rarely seen on the ground or even on low branches of trees.

My green elusive Yellow Footed Green Pigeon. The last time i had seen it was a single. That was three years back when i had just arrived in Delhi. But of course at that time i was seeing a green pigeon for the first time in my life and just like anybody who doesn't know i thought that it cooed liked normal pigeons do. Moreover at that moment i was just admiring a rarity and the contrast that the scenario was offering me free of cost and just like that. Some effortless entertainment as i sipped my tea sitting comfortably in my balcony.
That time too Mr Green Pigeon sure did seem interested in me as much as i was in him because he did turn his gaze to face me and acknowledge my admiration for him. For earlier it was surveying in silence another one of his own species. Must admit though had not noticed his foot or anything then...but just his henna powder color green.
This time i am more than just thrilled to see him again, maybe not the same bird but the same of the species called Teron phoenicopterus. Teron is a Latin word which stands for male and it actually means smooth. Phoenicopterus is a Greek word which actually means purple wing. All this information gathering happening now just because i happened to see this difficult to be seen bird again although it is most widespread in India. And since it never seems to roam around the free grounds how would i know that the sound like the spaced out radio tuning was coming out from him. Had it not been for this routine Whoo hoo that i was hearing and then this particular morning when Mr Pigeon in his virile courting gusto decided first to attract me with his call.
Whoo...hoo! whoo hoo!
This particular clip i have used is by Mr Mike Nelson who recorded it at 6.30 A.M at a hotel in Delhi where he was staying. The location being Sultanpur Estate. Sultanpur is a famous weekend getaway for it's bird sanctuary. i still have to visit this place.

He had been there everyday and trying to attract the attention of his mate and i would have seen him had it not been for his disguise. Quite a marvelous camouflage in the dense foliage of the tree. Only this particular day because of the like a radio getting tuned Whoo hoo close by i had to stop from doing what i was doing and since i had already spotted the rare one, it was obvious that one would see me from me peering here looking there, following the bird as it moved this way and that as it perched, changed positions, did his rituals which i shall explain later in this post, to know what it was destined for me to witness and learn on this eventful day.

He would be sitting there each day quietly and occasionally uttering his '' What wa hoo" or " Who who" nicely disguised and i was oblivious of the beautiful color of this plump looking bird. Other times i was missing out because it just sat there quietly perched on that favorite spot of his watching me intently perhaps or getting amused with entertainment maybe like we humans do to watch them from a distance. Surely it was there all along. i was hearing and from what i know now is that this species of sociable birds has the habit of sitting in groups on high branches especially during dawn hours because they love to bask in the early morning sun. And one should see it how brilliantly dazzling they glow...the color looking even richer as it catches the light of the early hours.

Maybe i am still missing out on the group but of late i have been seeing this arboreal couple quite a lot. Have actually been following them too. 

Small round head, long tail, plump body if and when spotted makes it easy to identify them because of certain typical and standard characteristic features.
Teron meaning the male is ashy olive green above but is all over olive yellow in color. There is a patch of grey like a thick but small band just below his neck too before he gets to be that olive yellow all over. He has a dark band almost slate colored on his tail. Sometimes when i am able to see clearly through my binoculars i also see a lilac red shoulder patch. He has yellow legs and yellow under-body. The bill is not too long and it is also yellow but pale yellow with a grey tip. His lady as is usual in avian s is slightly duller than him. And in her that lilac shoulder patch is missing. These two plump looking love birds never come down to feed and not even for their salt licks like some birds do. i learnt from my reading that they eat the fruits from the trees and are able to get what their digestive system needs from the trees itself. Thus they have their favorite feeding trees also. For my couple it is a huge Ficus religiosa called the Peepal tree. Sometimes they visit my Cluster Fig tree ( Ficus racemosa) known as Goolar tree too which i have discovered just recently. This huge tree in my garden is laden with ripe and semi ripe green and russet figs which are berry sized and the ripe ones perhaps slightly larger than cherry tomatoes .

One thing for sure although they seem to be shy of humans quickly retreating to their hiding among the dense foliage if you happen to approach them, they seem to be very sociable among others of their own kind. Avians i mean, for i see them bonding quite well with another green species, the Parrots and without much fuss they happily share the the bounties of nature and chatter with them too although their soft smooth voices are drowned in the high shrilly xeno canto of the Parrots. Their own flock is not quite large and at a time they could be anything around 40-50 but i haven't seen such a number as yet. i have seen 5-6 pairs at a time catching the morning sun...that too after the '' Whoo whoo- What Whoo whoo whoo " in close proximity which thank God made me look up.
 Interesting to note is that although the Yellow Footed Pigeons are plump birds they are brisk in flight. It is for this reason that in their fast flight it is difficult to figure them out as distinctly different from the common grey pigeons. From all you know a whole flock of say 50 of them might be flying past over your head and you would be assuming them to be the common pigeons that you see daily. While in air it is very difficult to identify one even when you would actually be close very close to not one but many. That's how these green birds are also unique in their disguise as compared to parrots for even in flight parrots are distinctly evident as a species different and maybe yes yellow pigeons apparently look like normal grey pigeons in flight yes but they are so uniquely different in reality when you see them up close and so personal.

The best part is the call...
The bird does this without opening it's bill.
 i have done enough chasing and following to see and know of the unique Tail Dance too which happens after or before the call. Naturally a typical courting scenario. It happens like this...
The male pigeon starts calling from a perch ''What whoo whoo'' or " Wooh -woo-whoo-woo" which more or less sounds like that radio frequency tuning whistle. And when another pigeon also lands in the territory the 'Tail Dance' begins. The Who whooing Pigeon performs a ' Tail Wagging' dance. 
The call can only be heard at close quarters. Sometimes one can also hear a short quiet 'cluck cluck' but generally the sound which is heard is Whoo-woo-who-woo with the bill closed.
i also found that the pattern of coloration in the feathers below form an interesting herringbone kind of design of these arboreal birds that congregate in fruit trees like Banyan, Peepal, Mulberry and Fig. Here as they foraged for food acrobatically like parakeets i had a gala time looking at those interesting patterns on the thick downs below the tails only thing i was not successful in taking a clear shot of those patterns. As a matter of fact none of my shots are clear as i am not having a zoom lens to take bird photographs. And even if i did i lack in skills. However in my next shot there is a glimpse.
It is not very strange that i have been a wide eyed spectator not only to their courting drama, the call, tail dance and all but all of their roosting in groups in trees and often nesting closely together in high in thick cover because March to July is their breeding season. The bird's favorite breeding ground being forests, orchards, city parks, cultivated village vicinity as it is the most widespread green pigeon in India, a common breeding resident which survives on berries and fruits. In my colony we have dense Chinese Bamboo where a couple are nesting. Then of course there are these flocks on the fig and the ficus trees like i have mentioned before.

And since none of my own pictures are clear enough i am borrowing one which again is taken from the internet...
Also this one which someone had posted on Facebook and because i had loved it i had downloaded and saved it.  i want to use it here now today... 
i am guessing if this picture was taken in a place where these birds were being bred or kept as pets because normally they don't come down to drink water like this. But i can only guess. Love to see all their characteristic features here...especially that lilac shoulder patch...meaning these are all males...

There are so many theories as to why birds sing.
Why do birds sing in the morning? It's the triumphant shout: "We got through another night!"
Enid Bagnold  
Birds are taken with pipes that imitate their own voices, and men with those sayings that are most agreeable to their own opinions.
                                                                      Samuel Butler
Each bird must sing with his own throat.
Henrik Ibsen

But of course these are thoughts to be pondered and mulled over when noises inside need silence. We know for a fact thanks to National Geographic Channel , Animal Planet and Nat Geo that mostly birds sing during courting or nesting or feeding. Sometimes even for socializing among their own kind and other times uttering signals to warn of dangers lurking around the vicinity.

And i have been wondering how dawn would feel if there was one where these sounds were not there. Sometimes i just rush outside in the dark maybe not for the dawn or my green babies even but for these sounds. The doors and windows are all shut tight as the air conditioner that is supposed to give us a good night's sleep keeps all the sounds out except that of it's own functioning and perhaps our own breathing and the occasional creaks of the bed as we toss and turn in sleep. Each year the temperature soars and we can't help but rely more and more on these machines. i have a nice terrace now which gives me all the privacy that i need.
i can sleep there and wake up to the cooing of this bird and for that matter all the other birds the sounds of which i am happily recording in my smartphone but unfortunately i can't because the outside heat is much too much for my comfort level and just too dry.  It singes the skin and makes the mattress feel like a naan out of the tandoor. The concrete roof radiates it's own heat...Sigh !!
But whether i sleep on the terrace on not the bird will continue to sing...and thank God it sings.
The Chinese have something very wonderful to say about it's singing and they say, A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

i have not been able to record one of my own of this particular bird for every time i get ready with my smartphone Murphy law starts operating. This tease Mr Whoo What Whoo would be smoothly whoo whooing really being a lusty in heat male pushing his female this way and that sometimes trying to mate with her at the topmost branch of the tree. i tried to take a picture of that too. Then he sure was who whooing before he tried to mate with her. Such was his energy that his companion Mr Parrot sitting on the nearby branch got dislodged from his perch and had to make a quick exit.
Just when i get ready with my recorder he turns mute. i have tried and tried and finally gave up so i am borrowing both from the net. Had to make a movie as Blogger was unable to process the video that i had uploaded from a very informative and helpful site. The sound clip is from this site and this particular clip i am using now was recorded by Mr Frank Lambert at 07. 31 at Melghat Tiger Reserve Maharshtra. This recording has the call of the Yellow Footed Pigeon and a few other group of birds singing from a Strangling Ficus tree ( Strangler Fig) . However i decided to bring even Mr Mike Nelson's recording here again. It is the same one at the beginning of the post. Here it is the second recording. The first one is by Mr Frank Lambert.

i am extremely thankful to Mr Mike Nelson  and Mr Frank Lambert for uploading the valuable sound clip on the site for i can understand very well having tried it myself what a great task they have accomplished. Definitely the site Teron -phonicopterus which  NOW has me hooked because i know where to go with all my bird queries especially the one related to the nature of their calls or physical characteristics or breeding/nesting or habitat... . i am very grateful and much obliged with all that has neatly been stocked for curious forever but a late bloomer like me. 

i know my photos are not clear...they are not as good  or as beautiful as the bird i am talking about. But when did i say i was Sean O' Connell. Besides all that bla bla i did about the bird trying to catch my attention is all gas. As the Chinese have said it rightly, a bird sings because it has a song. And i would like to quote these three since i was influenced by this movie ' The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'. 
1. Sean O'Connell: Beautiful things don't ask for attention.

2. Walter Mitty: When are you going to take it?
Sean O'Connell: Sometimes I don't. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don't like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.
Walter Mitty: Stay in it?
Sean O'Connell: Yeah. Right there. Right here.
... and last but not the very least this one because this dialogue sounds so similar to how my pigeons also are...
3. Sean O'Connell: They call the snow leopard the ghost cat. Never lets itself be seen.
Walter Mitty: Ghost cat.
Sean O'Connell: Beautiful things don't ask for attention.
i guess that sums it up...


  1. Replies
    1. @ aliasgarmukhtiar mukhtiar oh thank really think so. I feel the images lack clarity and see the birds were beyond my 18-55mm range and this is the best i could do. The tree was away from my terrace in another block but not very far...but of course further than my own zoom could give me a good focus. i tried hard and this was i could manage...

    2. Oh yeah, you will need to buy a new lense i guess..........that is the issue with Dslr cameras

  2. nice article with brilliant pictures.

  3. Replies
    1. @ Anonymous wish i could know someone and not anonymous but thank you so much makes me feel good that you liked it. :) Pls keep visiting even if it is as anonymous :) i would still like that :)

  4. those are beautiful pics, now i am sure you are not going to beleive me but this march when i had gone to my village.. I saw these birds. But for some reason i was told this variety is only found in punjab.. I am not sure if its the same .. I will email you the pic.

    there is a small distributory river just a mere 7 or 8 feet wide that goes in front of our house about 10-12 feet away from the main door, right through the village, and right on its edge is a huge Peepal tree which i have been seeing since I started seeing .. this tree is the house of these pigeons-parrots.. because I think this breed is a cross between a pigeon and parrot..

    your pics reminded me of the days i spent in india completely cut off from the world.. because I made sure I FORGET My mobile and my laptop back in city :)

    you are right these birds done drink water like that .. and those are some lovely colors, you have taken some beautiful pics ..

    I wanted to take more at my village but in the wedding rush i forgot to take once the wedding was over.. although i saw them a lot of times.. since our house is in our fields jsut outside the village there is all this open place, lots of trees and then there are the two big rivers that take water to rajasthan and much more greenery there .. so ideal place for a lot of birds ..

    I had made a point that every day I would still get up around 5ish and walk from home to those rivers through the fields.. my mom would say keep sleeping but what fun it was , I should have taken pics but i was selfish I did not want ot waste a second not seeing all this beauty .. around ..

    I clicked only about 50 odd pics in the whole trip as i wanted soak everything .. god know when i will go there again ...


    1. Dear Bikram i can understand every word of what you are saying. Tell you what sometimes this hassle called camera spoils the entire bliss of it all. Why are we so hell bent on taking pictures all the time. Why can't we just chill and soak it all up. BTW have u seen the movie i talked about...if not then i suggest you must...
      And u did good when u went to ur village and enjoyed. Sometimes i guess cameras are a major distraction...
      Hey the other day i tried reaching ur blog and could no go through to it...can u provide me an easier link so that i can zip zap zoom there...i want to...just to know what ur day's experiences were...
      Thank you so much. Love it when u come and share...feels real like i say...:) :) :)

    2. @ Bikram no u don't have to provide any link now...i got you...i have to click on ur name Bikram now...earlier i was landing on Bik blogroll and drawing a blank u alright...happy...yay :) :)

  5. You have shared such lovely pics, Shivani!
    wonderful that you got to click them! :)
    I agree with your views on Sounds.
    They say the sounds never die in the Universe...

    1. @ Anita hey so gud to see u. Thanx for stopping by. Makes me feel great that u enjoyed the pics...hope u heard the sound too...
      Thanks again. Hope to see u soon again. :)

  6. Nice to see all your clippings! I too enjoy sounds but not too much of it. A mild one make be to feel relaxed!

    1. @ Weekend-Windup thank you for your valuable words about how u feel about sounds and also for stopping by. It's a pleasure. :) Hope to see more of you :)

  7. the water drinking one is really cool :)

    1. @ joshi daniel thank you for taking time out for stopping by. Yeah it sure is. Maybe one day i might take one as clear and as sharp but do keep visiting. i love to see u here on my page. :)

  8. I didnot know abut this green pigeon (inspite of living in Delhi) , but now I do know:)

    1. @ Vandana Sharma thank you so much for stopping by and also for leaving behind words which doubles my happiness. Actually Delhi has many varieties if only we have the inclination and the time to "...stand and stare...''
      Remember...William Henry Davis...this is what he had said in his poem...
      What is this life if, full of care,
      We have no time to stand and stare.

      No time to stand beneath the boughs
      And stare as long as sheep or cows.

      No time to see, when woods we pass,
      Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

      No time to see, in broad daylight,
      Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

      No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
      And watch her feet, how they can dance.

      No time to wait till her mouth can
      Enrich that smile her eyes began.

      A poor life this is if, full of care,
      We have no time to stand and stare.
      i love this poem which we had learnt in school.

  9. Thank you so much for your lovely comments on my blog. You are the first one who actually noticed the drop on the leaf and if you look carefully its the world (earth) on the leaf.
    Thank you once again.

    1. @ Vandana Sharma...really nice for you to tell me so. As a thumb nail pic i was attracted by what looked like a pearl. Yes i had seen it later when i saw the image full size that instead of a pearl it looked like a small round sapphire. i had peered to see...couldn't notice the earth and thought maybe the water drop had caught the reflection of some image which was blue. Thanks for letting me know. Wow that makes it even more amazing. The earth on the how meaningful and so symbolic. Love it all the more now. :)