Shri Jasnath Asan, Rajasthan, India
Photo © Shri Jasnath Asan, 2016
I was out for a short walk just after breakfast just in the field behind the fortress to enjoy the bright morning sunshine. I saw something in the hedgerows, a bird that was pretty big , clambering clumsily along through the tangle of dry brush and grass. It was apparently hunting things on the ground and now and then it cocked its tail up in a pose reminecent of the roadrunners found in the desert of the U.S.
It was very wary, and from a long distance half hidden in the bushes, it looked like a really chubby roadrunner that someone had spray painted black and rust. What I was stalking was a beautiful greater coucal wa member of the cuckoo family; the very same family as our beloved southwest greater roadrunner.
The photos I took don't do it justice. The coucal was stunning, with a glossy black-purple head and body, wings a rich deep copper, and a long graduated tail that shone, almost glimmered, a glossy dark black green. Its head sported a strong, heavy black bill and then to add that bit of showmanship and pizzazz it had a brilliant ruby red eye. And for all you birdwatchers the coucal just like our roadrunner, has zygodactylous feet (two toes forward and two back) a characteristic of the cuckoo family.
At 48 cm they are a big bird again about the same as our roadrunner. I have since learned that they are, indeed, weak fliers, and prefer walking on the ground as they forage for insects, small lizards and vipers, eggs and nestlings of other birds - much the same life style and diet as our roadrunners.
I know its a common bird found in wide range of habitats from jungle to cultivation and urban gardens, from Asia,to India, south China, Nepal and Indonesia. But it was the first one I had seen…
… and what a beauty it was.
Panchla Siddha, India
Sharon K. Schafer
I paint, photograph, and speak about wild places in an act of reciprocity that is as vital to me as heartbeat or breath.
My interest in the magic and mystery of the natural world lies at the intersection of art and science.
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