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Birds of Mysore Area

A comparison and comprehensive study between 1991-2010

                                                                                                                               Fig: Isolated hills amid plains

An attempt is made to enlist the Mysore area birds observed in the last two decades (1991-2010) from extensive survey and published articles. Mysore area represents three southern districts of Karnataka state, namely Mysore, Mandya and Chamarajanagar excluding Nagarhole and Bandipur National Parks; Nugu, Biligiri Rangaswamy and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuaries situated on the West, South and East boundaries.  



The avifauna of the Mysore area has been reported since 1879 (Sanderson 1879). Ali & Whistler (1942-43) has observed that besides an article by Phythian-Adams (1940 &1948), no literature is available extensively on birds from present study area, though few memoirs are apparently touched upon by Sanderson (1879), Davison (1883) and Betts (1929). Phythian-Adams accounted species worth ‘game hunting’ elaborately in Mysore and Chamarajanagar districts. Detailed report on birds status was absent during this wide gap of 44 years, i.e., between Ali & Whistler (1942-43) and Karanth (1986). Few recent published works associated with present study area are Thejaswi et al. (2000), Misra et al. (2007), and Guruprasad et al. (2007).

Here an attempt is made to enlist the bird species encountered and their status in the last 20 years (1991-2010) in three southern districts of Karnataka. Bird species encountered during our visits, and from published articles, community based nature discussion groups like ‘bngbirds’ and ‘indianaturewatch’. Aasheesh Pittie’s bibliography of South Asian provided explicit references related to present report.

Bio-diversity rich Nagarhole and Bandipur National Parks; Nugu, Biligiri Rangaswamy and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuaries border West, South-East directions of present study area. These bordering National Parks and Sanctuaries are well documented by Davison (1883), Ali & Whistler (1942-1943), Zaveri et al. (1973, 1974), Gadgil & Sharatchandra (1974), Mahabal & Vasanth (2001), and Rajkumar (2004); And further surveys here required elaborative procedures to get necessary permissions, and hence are deterred from the present study.  

Location and vegetation characteristics

The study area is spread between 11°30’-13° 04’ North Latitudes and 75° 45’-77°45’ East Longitudes, comprising Mysore, Mandya and Chamarajanagar districts spread over 16,916 Sq. Km with a population of 80 Lakh (2009).  

 The study area is located in southern plateau of Peninsular India and is part of river Kaveri basin.  An average elevation of the area is 820 m ASL and  Bettadapura hill (1338 m),  Narayana Durga (1088m) and Chamundi hill (1074m) being  its highest peaks in that particular order. 

The climate is moderate. The summer season from March to end of May is followed by the south-west monsoon season lasting up to September end. October and November are retreating monsoon season. December to February is the dry season with generally clear bright weather. Most of the rainfall in the area is confined to April to November and October is the wettest month. The area has record of receiving on an average of 761.9 mm (Mysore & Chamarajanagar) and 691.2 mm (Mandya) rainfall during last century (Anon, 1988 & 2003).  

Fig: Transformed Grassland                                                Fig: River Kaveri valley bordering Mandya district

Mysore area is described as an undulating table land, fertile and well watered by perennial rivers whose waters dammed by anicuts (check dams built across rivers of different sizes) enrich their banks by means of canals.  Mysore area is situated in the angle where the Eastern and Western Ghat ranges converge into the Nilgiri hills. Cultivated area includes rain fed, irrigated, plantations and hedges. Many water-bodies in the form of various sized Tanks (1757 nos), Anicuts (22nos; Madhvamanthri, Chunchanakatte, Mahadevapura, Chikkadevaraya, Chandagalu, etc.,), Reservoirs (Krishnaraja Sagara, Kabini Dam, Nugu, Markonahalli, Taraka, Gundal) and rivers (Kaveri, Hemavathi, Kapila, Shimsha, Lakhmanathirtha, Suvarnavathi, Nugu, Lokapavani) is spread unevenly through out the area.

The vegetation is described as thorn-scrub (Saldana 1984; Rao & Razi 1981) and non-forest habitat due to prolonged disturbance of deciduous forest over a long period. Remnant Dry and moist deciduous trees scattered amid the stretches of shrub, herb and grass undergrowth is common.  These thorn-scrub protected areas are located in the middle of vast open and fallow land, cultivated land, town and villages.  Mysore area flora is quite rich and diverse with 1601 species of flowering plants belonging to 170 families and 778 genera (Rao & Razi 1981).

 Fig: Konannur habitat

Observation pattern

Study was conducted using visual census techniques along the  transects in varied vegetation covering water bodies, thorn-scrub, fallow lands, farm lands, garden, hedges along cultivated land and mixed combination of above. In additions, authenticated sighting records and published elsewhere, related to present study area have been incorporated.   

Reserved forests like Adichunchanagiri, Arabithittu, Alati, Aloka, Arasanakatte, Baby betta, Bettadabeedu, Basavana betta, Chamundi hill, Chikkanahalli, Kari ghatta, Konnanur, Kottegala, Kunthi betta, Madahalli, Mahadeswara gudda,  Mallikarjunaswamy betta, Malleswara gudda, Melkote, Mullur gudda, Vadgal ranganathaswamy betta, Parvathi betta, Hulikalmaradi betta and Varakodu were visited in addition to lesser known places for avifaunal study. 220 Lakes & Tanks, 12 Anicuts, Krishnarajasagar & Kabini dams, Riverine locations were visited regularly during Midwinter waterfowl census and other times as well. In addition, mono-cultured plantations, botanical Park, gardens, fallow land, farm land, hedges, and zoological garden were also visited for the study. Repetitive visits were made to more productive and rich diversity locations.

Transects were visited regularly on all the seasons.  Observations were recorded using binocular, spotting scope, camera and call recording equipments. Birds were identified with the help of Ali & Ripley (1987),  Grimmett et al. (1998), Kazmierczak (2000)  and in some cases with the help of web groups -‘bngbirds’ and ‘orientalbirdclub’.


Results and Discussion

Totally 329 bird species have been recorded, comprising of 183 Residents,  87 Regular winter visitors, 15 Rare winter migrants, 29 Vagrants and 15 birds overshooting their habitat from surrounding Eastern & Western Ghat and Shores.  Thus, present study area accommodates 27% of 1225 species of Indian avifaunal diversity (Islam & Rahmani 2005) and 67% of entire Karnataka state (Praveen 2010; considered only 488 among listed 537 species after deleting 49, that have not been re-sighted after 1990). Excluding Rare winter migrants and Vagrants it amounts to 23% of Indian diversity & 58% of Karnataka's.

Residents (Table 1):

Birds that are found through out the year are listed, accounting to 183 species.

Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus (Thejaswi 2004i) have been recorded at Arasanakatte state Forest, Bettadapura hill, Chamundi hill, Melkote Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, and Alathi Betta (Nagamangala Taluk). Its presence is not contiguous in all the chains of rocky hills. Unfortunately, Bulbuls have disappeared from Arasanakatte state Forest and Chamundi hill within the present study period. However, a small population of Yellow-throated Bulbul is surviving at Bettadapura,  Adi-chunchanagiri hillocks, and Melkote Sanctuary.

For the past 4-5 century, healthy population of Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis and Painted Storks Mycteria leucocephala are breeding in Kokkarebellur village (Neginhal 1977 & 1997; Manu & Sara 2000; Kannan V & Ranjit Manakadan 2005).  In the last decade, they started breeding in islands of Kukkarahalli and Karanji tanks. Disappearance of trees supporting Pelicans’ breeding due to embankment dilution in constructed islands of Karanji tank kept away the breeding colony this season (2011-2012).  Lingambudhi tank used to attract large number of Pelicans for foraging. On an average of 443 birds were found feeding in the tank, for four week continuously in April 2002.  On 13 April 2002 the numbers reached all time high - 522.  Though 1757 lakes exists (officially) in Mysore area, Pelicans have chosen only 132 water-bodies for foraging with regulars like Shettihalli, Gujjegowdana pura, Sule kere, Koppa, Karanji(Das 2007), Kenchanakere, Markonahalli etc.,

Pied Tits Parus nuchalis have been recorded in Male Mahadeshwara hills (Sadananda et al. 2010), range beyond the  present report, however, there is a lone sighting record at Santhemaralli  by Tiwari (1999), Chamarajanagar district located in Mysore area. We have not observed the Pied Tit here, probably because Tit is known to move over 5–7 km for foraging.

Red Collared Doves Streptopelia tranquebarica have been sighted twice in Mysore outskirts on 27 September 1999 & 17 November 2000 and once in Yadavanne on 10 March 2007 bordering Tumkur district.

Marshall's Iora Aegithina nigolutea was recorded at Konannur Reserved Forest, Chamarajanagar district (Shivaprakash 2011).  Resident population of Pied Crested Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus is reported from here as early as 1929 by Betts (1929) in Periyapatna and still it continues, however their population increases marginally during Monsoon. 

Brown Hawk-owl Ninon scutulata was observed by almost all Mysore birders in Kukkarahalli secondary forest during 19 October 1996 to 14 December 1997. Re-sighted again on 14 November 2004 & 11 January 2011 and stayed over a week in the same location.

Fig:  Indian Spotted Eagle Juvenile                                                              Fig: Painted Spurfowl 

A pair of Indian Spotted Eagle Aquila hastata has been nesting (Shivaprakash 2005, Shivaprakash et al. 2006) since 12 years in Mysore outskirts. Contrary to single fledglings in each brood, two were raised in 2010.  Another two pair have been sighted breeding in bordering Tumkur district at Yadavanne and Huliyurdurga. Bonelli’s Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus nesting has been recorded at four different locations spread over in all the three districts.

Sighting records are very few for the following resident birds -Brown Crake Amaurornis akool, Slaty legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides, Blue-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus (Thejaswi 2002), Watercock Gallicrex cinerea, Painted Spurfowl Galloperdix lunulata, Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis, Red collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica, Yellow-throated Sparrow Petronia xanthocollis, Franklin’s Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis,, White-rumped Vulture  Gyps bengalensis and Long-billed Vulture Vulture  Gyps indicus.

Fig: Yellow legged Button quail by                
Michaelsen T

Finding Quails is extremely difficult and observing them for identification still intricate.  Presence of Common Button-Quail Turnix suscitator & Jungle Bush-Quail Perdicula asiatica confirmed from photographs (Raju 2008, Das 2007 & private album of Michaelsen T).  

Congregation of Streak-throated Swallows Hirundo fluvicola is common near bridges built across River Cauvery, Kapila, Laxmana-thirtha and Shimsha where they build colonial nests.

On the rocky platforms of perennial rivers Cauvery & Kapila normally Great Stone-Plovers Esacus recurvirostris are common.  However, they are absent in river Shimsha, though the rocky platforms are surrounded with deep waters in some places of its flow. Breeding of Small Pratincole Glareola lacteal at Talkad (Worth 1951, quoting Phythian-Adams) no more exists due to hectic human activity, however, breeding is recorded in least disturbed locations like Rayasamudra, KRS backwaters, and Muthurayanakere (located in Tumkur district bordering Mandya). Huge congregation of around 1310 Small Pratincoles were recorded on exposed mud-bar at KRS backwaters on 02 January 2011.

Fig:  Small Pratincoles gallery

Peregrine Falcon (=Shaheen) Falco peregrinus peregrinator is infrequently distributed in rocky hills, however, Falco peregrinus calidus visits in winter but it is very rare.  Yellow-throated Sparrows Petronia xanthocollis is recorded as resident, because a few have been sighted in different places in all the seasons, latest being at Lingambudhi on 22 October 2011

Winter population adds up with resident species like Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus, Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus, Bay-backed Shrike Lanius vittatus, Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis, Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Little-ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, Cotton Teal Nettapus coromandelianus and Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos, increasing their strength to many folds. Strength of Brown Rock Pipit Anthus similis also increases by few numbers after winter migrants’ arrival. Comb Ducks have been sighted only thrice during non-winter in flight; attempts were made to find their possible nesting location in tree holes at KRS Backwaters and Yelandur sector tanks, but didn’t yield any positive result. Single largest congregation of 91 Comb Ducks was recorded in Kallur tank on 21 February 2010.

Sanderson (1879) stationed at Hunsur, Mysore district describes then avifauna as “Jungle fowl, Peafowl & Spur fowl are Common in the woods; Bustard, Florican, Red-legged Partridge, Quail and Rock-grouse in the open country; Wild duck, teal, Snipe, Wild Geese, Flamingos, Pelicans, and Crakes in the lake and rice fields. Doves of several varieties are common both in the woods and open country”. Above statement seems to be much generalized one, since the book deals mainly with mammals. Other than lone sighting of Indian Courser Cursorius coromandelicus at Hirikere, Chamarajanagara by Siddaramaiah &  Jayadeva (1992); Bustard, Florican, Sandgrouse and Flamingos have not been recorded in that last two decades.

Four numbers of Quaker Tit-Babbler Alcippe poioicephala have been met just once in Bettada beedu forests on 22 August 2010. Painted Spurfowl Galloperdix lunulata was photographed in open forests of Chikkadevammana betta (Vishwanath, M.K. 2010) adjoining Nugu Wildlife Sanctuary and at Melkote Wildlife Sanctuary (Shivaprakash 2012). Spurfowl was elusive since its previous sighting from Gundlupete (Phythian-Adams, 1940).

All the three species of Bushlarks -Jerdon's Mirafra affinis, Red-winged M. erythroptera & Singing, Bushlark M. cantillans, are present in few specific locations and one of them is reported by Mike (2010).


Regular winter visitors (Table 2):

Regular winter visitors list is impressive with 87 species. Mysore area being part of central-Asian Flyway hosts many migratory birds in large numbers. Presence of many species in large numbers is recorded during mid-winter waterfowl census being conducted by individuals and an NGO, Mysore Amateur Naturalists since 1986. In addition to birds and habitats data, census generates new breed of birders since it acts as a capacity building exercise.

Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, once a rare winter visitor to the southern peninsula is now regarded as a local winter visitor (Thejaswi 2004c). Rosy Starling Sturnus roseus (Thejaswi 2001), Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps, Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala and Common Rose-finches Carpodacus erythrinus are common feature in ripen and harvested paddy-fields and moves from place to place depending on harvesting activity.

Amur Falcon Falco amurensis and Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni has been recorded sporadically at Mandakalli, Chamundi hill, Hadinaru Gudda, Lingambudhi environ regularly. At Mandakalli grassland, once a large congregation was observed (Thejaswi 2004k) in 2001. Three minor Harrier roosts involving different combination of Pallid Circus macrourus and Montagu's  Circus pygargus, Western Marsh Circus aeruginosus, and Pied C. melanoleucos have been recorded (Thejaswi 2004d) at Mandakalli grassland, Yedathore and Yelandur. Now, a new airport replaced the large expanse of grassland and its avifauna.

Indian Blue Robin Luscinia brunnea is found regularly in a specific location at Ranganathittu and Chamundi hill (Shivananda & Shivaprakash 2004). Regular visit of Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus has been shown by photographs of Kulashekara (2007a), Vinay (2007), Das (2008a) & Ravinarayan (2007) at Lingambudhi environ, Mysore outskirts and Kukkarahalli respectively.

Orange headed Thrush Zoothera citrina cyanotus is observed regularly at Chamundi hill Reserve Forest and Melkote Wild Life Sanctuary during winter. Post Monsoon dispersal of Malabar whistling Thrush Myophonus horsfieldii was observed at Chamundi hill (Praveen 2006), thereafter, it is observed and photographed regularly in winter.

Regularly Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla and rarely Spotted Crake Porzana porzana are recorded (Thejaswi 2002) in periphery of reed covered tanks.

                Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus collared in Mongolia provides strong evidence of migration of many waterfowl species from Mongolia to India (Madhukar et al 2009). These Geese have been recorded in many tanks and lakes roosting during day time, every winter (Shivaprakash 2005). Among flock of 996 birds, collared -SF, 99 & 97 (all females) were sighted at Santhekere & Devikere on 01.02.2011. Collared bird-97 was recorded at Magadi Tank in 2009 and yet again present at Kaggalipura on 11.02.2012 (by Anagha S, Sheshgiri BR & Kiran; Shivaprakash 2012).

One pair of Indian Great Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus, once attempted to breed in reeds of Lingambudhi tank during monsoon; otherwise it is found every where in marshy reeds in winter, hence recorded as regular winter visitor.  Recently, congregation of 250 and odd, European Bee-eater Merops apiaster is reported by Subramanya (2012) near Kollegal.

Rare winter migrants (Table 3): 

Species that are recorded twice or thrice are considered as Rare, and the list contains 15 of them. Table provides observation detail. Solitary Greylag Goose has been sighted twice amid the flock of Bar-headed Goose, probably arrived along with the Bar-headed flock from the nesting ground. These were unheard during the report of Phythian-Adams (1948).  Beyond their known distribution, Tickell’s Thrush Turdus unicolor was reported in 2000 and again sighted and photographed at Chamundi hills (Das 2011).

Fig: Solitary Greylag amid Bar-heads

Vagrants (Table 4):

Fig: Thick billed Warbler by Michaelsen T 

Species chanced upon once or stayed for one complete season are listed here. Table provides observation detail. Totally 29 species have been recorded. Many of them might turn into rare or regular visitors if birders frequent all type of habitats.  Though vagrant in present case, sporadic sighting of Lesser Adjutant-Stork Leptoptilos javanicus is reported from Kabini backwaters and Uttara kannada district (Kaiga) within the state boundary during winter in recent years. Similarly, Grey-necked Bunting Emberiza buchanani has been recorded during bird races conducted in many southern states. Except the Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons, all other species have been recorded sporadically in peninsular India. Few species like Thick billed Green-Pigeon Treron curvirostra, and Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel have been recorded beyond their natural habitat as a escapee or storm-thrown might not re-occur again. Beyond their known distribution Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus at Kukkarahalli tank were observed and photographed (by Sapthagirish; Shivaprakash 2012). Large Whistling Duck Dendrocygna bicolor was recorded only once after the reporting of Phythian-Adams (1948). Thick-billed Warbler Acrocephalus aedon was observed and photographed in Dadadalli fields by Michaelsen (2011), mostly on northward migration since it was not present before and after the date of sighting.

Birds overshooting their habitat from surrounding Western & Eastern Ghat and Peninsular Coasts (Table 5):

Above heading can be assumed as range extension from today’s point of view or can also be defined as birds foraging in their original habitat diminished due to anthropological reasons except the Sea-eagle from coastal area. The list contains 15 birds.

During rainy days few Hanging Parrot Loriculus vernalis have been observed in secondary forests from nearby forests of Nagarahole and Bandipura. A few Plum-headed parakeets Psitacula cyanocephala penetrate deep into plains of Mysore city outskirts during rainy season. Brown-backed Needletail-Swift Hirundapus giganteus, White-rumped Needletail-Swift Zoonavena sylvatica, Crested Tree-Swift Hemiprocne coronate and Indian Swiftlet  Collocalia unicolor have been sighted in hilly areas like Bettadabeedu, Malleswara Gudda, Chikkadevammana betta during monsoon and post monsoon. Incidentally these hillocks are situated 5-25 Km away from the forests of Nagarahole and Bandipura. Doubtful sighting of Silver-backed Needletail-Swift Hirundapus cochinchinensis at Malleswara Gudda is included in the list. Large Cuckoo-shrike Coracina macei, Black-headed Oriole Oriolus xanthornus, Malabar Crested Lark Galerida malabarica and Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaultia seldom move into bordering plains during post-monsoon and winter. Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis and Changeable Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus have been sighted several times all seasons at different locations like Varakodu RF & Malleswara Gudda RF, Chamundi RF & Melkote Wild Life Sanctuary respectively. In one season observed movement of adult and its juvenile Hawk-eagle activity in Melkote Wildlife Sanctuary. White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster, a coastal resident of peninsular India was once recorded in Maddur Lake on 23 January 2000 during Mid-winter Waterfowl census (Thejaswi 2004f). Pompadour Green-Pigeon Treron pompadora was sighted near Narasambudhi Lake near Nanjanagudu far away from known habitat in mid-summer. Activity of visiting may be co-related with Green Pigeons visiting the swamps in hot weather mentioned by Phythian-Adams (1943) & Frend (1947).

Conspicuously absent (Table 6):

 Presence of these 12 species noted in 1940’s (Ali & Whistler, 1942-43; Phythian-Adams, 1940)) are not recorded during the study period. Table provides observation detail. Forest stretches that were contiguous and healthy have shrinked driving Blue-bearded Bee-eater Nyctyornis athertoni, Spotted Babbler Pellorneum ruficeps, Red Spurfowl Galloperdix spadicea, Orange-breasted Green-Pigeon Treron bicincta, to restrict their movement within the available habitat. Similarly, very vast grass lands disappeared in order to support growing population causing Painted Sandgrouse Pterocles indicus & Chestnut-bellied   Sandgrouse Pterocles exustus, Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps, Lesser Floricon Sypheotides indica to fade away. Since Swinhoe's Snipe Gallinago megala & Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris, and White-eye Pochard Aythya nyroca are rare winter visitors, rendezvous of bird and birder might not have taken place. Surprisingly four time visitor Tufted Pochard Aythya fuligula has not been met with since then and this calls for further investigation.

Roosting and behavioural observation:

Gadgil and Ali (1975) reported 59 species of common Indian birds involved in forming communal roosts. 21 species participation in communal roost is recorded here (Shivaprakash 2001). In winter, Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus, Blue-tailed Merops philippinus and Small Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis roosts in thick vegetation of Lingambudhi tank. Small Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis is already listed as a bird taking part in communal roosting.

Fig: Heronry in Tippur

Development of Jungle Crow’s intelligence is recorded by Deapesh (2006). Certain behavioral and foraging observations are documented on Rosy Starling Sturnus roseus (Thejaswi 2001 & 2002), Crakes Porzana spp, Baya Weaver-bird Ploceus philippinus & Rosy Starlings Sturnus roseus (Shivanand & Kumar 2004a & 2004b),  Purple Sunbird (Shivaprakash 2002). And a report of breakaway heronry forced to breed and roost in small colonies depending on advancement of monsoon is reported (Chakravarthy 2004). Albino Common Swallow Hirundo rustica is recorded in Giribettada kere (Shivaprakash et al. 2006).  Heronries have been recorded in the middle of human habitat at  Devalapura, Tippur, Kommeralli, Thonnur junction and at tank margin in Markalu, Kaggalipura & Hadinaru, in addition to well known Kokkare Bellur, Karanji and Kukkarahalli.

More productive bird locations:

Based on conservation priority, 37 sites are identified as Important Bird Areas (Islam & Rahmani 2005) in Karnataka. Twelve among them is located in Mysore area. They are – Kukkarahalli, Lingambudhi, Karanji, Narasambudhi, Kunthur-Kalluru, Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS), Sulekere, Adi-chunchanagiri, Arabithittu Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS), Melkote WLS, Ranganathittu & Kokkare Bellur Bird Sanctuaries. Among them Ranganathittu, Sulekere lake, Krishnaraja sagar Reservoir & Kokkare Bellur in Mandya district; Karanji, Kukkarahalli Tank, Lingambudhi Lake, Narasambudhi in Mysore district & Kunthur-Kallur in Chamaraja nagar district have been listed as potential Ramsar sites (Islam & Rahmani 2008). These will be teaming with birds during winter.

The large islands of Devaraja, Ranganathittu and Gandehosahalli, as well as a number of smaller islands in the Cauvery River, were constituted as Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuaries in 1940.  Activity and status of Sanctuary is well illustrated over time and again by Spillett (1968), Neginhal (1980, 1982, 1993), Subramanya et al (1991), and Thejaswi (2000). Resident Greater Grey-headed Fish-Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus and a rare Lesser Fish-Eagle Ichthyophaga humilis has been recorded here and also on river stretches with lofty trees on shores ( Vinay  2008  & Das 2008). Solitary sighting of Lesser Frigate Bird Fregata arie from inland is also reported (Huilgol 2007) from here.

Comparisons with Salim Ali’s observations:

The Erstwhile Mysore State bird survey was conducted between 06 November 1939 and 25 February 1940. Many of the locations of present study area were covered during 15 November 1939 – 18 December 1939.  During the survey, Ali & Whistler (1942-43) enlisted, netted and sighted 160 species from 11 locations that spread over three districts of Mysore area (present study area), and another 63 were mentioned as common/uncommon/regular depending on the case probably on their presence throughout the Mysore State, totaling 223 species. However, total birds list contained 352 species from 62 location spread over erstwhile Mysore State that includes evergreen, moist & deciduous biotope.  Present record of 323 against 223 species of 1940s, the reason for more species observation, it would be appropriate to quote Ali (Vol.43, page 131) ‘the studies over a long period covering all the seasons would yield fuller information than the one short seasonal survey’.

Related to Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps, it seems an erroneous ‘Nelamangalam’ (near Bangalore) has appeared instead of Nagamangala in the paper described as, ‘One was shot by Mr. Van Ingen near Nelamangalam (40 miles distant from Mysore City) in early January 1940.

Absence of White-throated Fantail-Flycatcher Rhipidura aureola in both the Mysore State bird survey (Ali & Whistler, 1942-43) and present report is conspicuous though suitable habitat exists. They have been recorded in adjoining Wildlife sanctuaries and National Parks in specific locations repeatedly.

Comparisons with Phythian-Adams observations:

Phythian-Adams (1940) observations made during 1925 to 1939, within a radius of 40 miles from the Mysore, covering all the tanks and ground is considered more appropriate to compare with recent data. Mentioned as uncommon and strictly local, the Painted Sandgrouse Pterocles indicus and the Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse  Pterocles exustus is now not met with. Great Bittern Bataurus stellaris, and Lesser Floricon Sypheotides inidca that was chanced upon once is also not recorded in recent years.  Painted Spurfowl Galloperdix lunulata has been reported, since then. Tufted Pochard Aythya fuligla, Swinhoe’s Snipe Gallinago megala are altogether missing now. Congregation of Demoiselle Cranes Grus virgo in 1000s at Kapila river near Nanjanagudu, Yelandur Tanks, and at confluence of River Kapila, Cauvery at T.Narasipura was a common feature during winter; and were flying over Mysore city regularly is a mirage now. In recent years few individual Demoiselle Cranes were recorded twice at Maddur kere (Yelandur) and KRS backwaters (Shivaprakash 2002a). Sighting record of Large Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna bicolor and Gadwall Anas strepera is presently same as in 1940s, just once. 

In order to save Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigricepsin, a rare bird in all parts of its habitat at that period, from extinction he suggested vehemently for complete protection both from professional snares and sportsmen after three rendezvous with Bustards. After over half a century, Karanth (1986) mentioned Yediyur & Bukkapatna (Tumkur), Jakkanahlli-Nagamangala (Mandya) and Dasanakoppal (Mysore) as probable Bustard habitats. These probable Bustard habitats mentioned by Phythian-Adams (1940) & Karanth (1986) were investigated thoroughly for remnants. In addition, potential habitats like Melkote-Nagamangala-Aalathi-Tattahalli expanses, Santhemaralli-Kavalande, Vadgal plains and Grasslands around Mysore city were surveyed in detail, but in vain.  

Observations like White Ibises Threskiornis melanocephalus are less common than Black Ibises Pseudibis papaillosa is now reversed; it is still true that most of the time winter migrants, Garganeys Anas querquedula are always out-numbered Northern Pintail Anas acuta and Cotton Teals Nettapus coromandelianus; and the statement like ‘not able to identify the White-necked Storks Ciconia episcopus breeding locations’, is partly true since, Vijayalaxmi (2010) recorded un-successful breeding of White-necked Stork from Nanjanagudu for the first time.


  Unprecedented loss of bio-diversity caused by rapid deforestation, exploitation of natural resources all over world is well known, including in the present study area.   Hence, current situation demands for more closure and careful evaluation of this habitat. Present report provides data on bird status and diversity of Mysore region, and compares with reported sightings since 1879 depicting the drastic change in local habitat. In addition to rich diversity of local species, the region hosts good numbers of migration species being part of Central-Asian flyway. Data presented here would be useful for monitoring, protection and conservation of Mysore environ.    



We are indebted to Michaelsen T for providing valuable first hand information and sighting records mainly on Cuckoos, Warblers and Larks. Thanks to Kulashekar CS, Vishwanath MK, Das S, Vinay S, Ravinarayan CS, Ajit Huilgol, Raju AK, Sadath Ali and the web groups ‘bngbirds’, ‘southasiaornith’ & ‘indianaturewatch’ whose input enriched the present report.   Thanks to Praveen J for many correction, addition, suggestion and value addition.



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