A newsletter on the Natural History, Ecology
and Conservation of the Agasthyamalai region, Western Ghats, India.

Any and all opinions expressed in this newsletter are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of ATREE. 

Editorial Team

Editor: T. Ganesh
Associate editor: Vivek Ramachandran
Editorial Review: R. Ganesan, M. Soubadra Devy
Design and presentation: Vivek Ramachandran

A S H O K A   T R U S T   F O R   R E S E A R C H   I N   E C O L O G Y   A N D   T H E   E N V I R O N M E N T

An oft encountered question as we scurry for cover when the heavens open. The answer depends on which bird species and where? In Bangalore, the rain-soaked mynas and crows may seek shelter within the sparse canopy of fast disappearing avenue trees or under the rafters of our roof. The birds of the ‘rain’ forest however respond very differently as rain is part and parcel of their day.
I was afforded a unique insight and perhaps an answer to this long rankling question. While sampling in the canopy at Kakachi in September 2007, I was caught in a thunderstorm. With the rope sopping wet, it was impossible to use a ‘figure of eight’ descender, so I decided to stay put. The canopy platform was being buffeted by the wind when a flock of White-eyes descended all around me. They were unperturbed by the elements, foraging and gleaning among the leaves and bark of the surrounding trees. A Racket-tailed Drongo was sallying after a dragonfly that had been disturbed by the falling rain. The intensity of the downpour increased and soon more species joined in. A whole host of insects had been disturbed by the rain falling on the foliage, Minivets and Flycatcher shrikes were taking a toll on them and were soon joined by the Canary Flycatchers. The rain continued for more than 2 hours and I could hear the mixed-hunting party continue to forage through the vast stretch of canopy. The absence of frugivores in the flock was conspicuous; they perhaps preferred the sheltered confines of the understory? As the rain abated, a few birds were seen sitting on exposed branches with their feathers puffed out under the setting sun. Though I was soaked to the skin and cold, was glad to have had company and a glimpse of their extraordinary lives…
A Black-lored Tit gleaning in the rain.
Photo: Vivek Ramachandran

Where do birds go when it rains?

- Vivek Ramachandran

Volume 4,  Issue 3
      December 2010

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