Encounter: Indian Silverbill

If coochicooable was a word, it would fit the Indian Silverbill 
My first memories of fellow Ogre Sahastra are tied to a photograph he posted in the Infosys photography club. The first was of a group of tiny, brown birds with beautiful conical beaks shining like metal, perched on a plant reduced to sticks by harsh summer. And the bird’s name sounded like a wind chime tinkling.

The Indian Silverbill.

If ‘coochicooable’ was a word, it would fit the Indian Silverbill
Immediately, I was intrigued by the Indian Silverbill or White-throated Munia (Euodice malabarica) and recognized it the moment I saw it in Mysore. The birds, always in a flock, perched on tall grass stalks, flitting from one to another, stealing an occasional private moment to plant tiny kisses on each other.
The Indian Silverbill blends into its surroundings thanks to its dull plumage
Since then I have seen them everywhere in small groups, feeding on tiny seeds of grass in scrublands. Often, their small size renders them invisible — they are even smaller than sparrows — and when you step into the grass, you can see ten or twenty suddenly take flight, making soft cheeping noises.
The birds huddle close and whisper gossip

At times they huddle together on a single stalk perhaps to share body heat in a cold breeze, or face each other and peer at something far beyond, their tiny eyes tinkling.

Text and photos by Sandeep Somasekharan
Read more posts in our Encounter series
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