Lifescapes Gallery

6 / Apr / 2011
The Drama Queen of Kabini
Yellow-eyed Babbler, Kabini Photograph: Dr. Ajit Huilgol Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

The Drama Queen of Kabini

What do you call someone who announces her presence with the sweetest melodies, and then underlines her arrival on the scene with a drum-roll of percussive rattles and appreciative whistles? Ornithologists call her the Yellow-eyed Babbler, but we suspect she prefers to be known as the ‘Diva’. As we shall see, this diminutive bird’s behaviour is certainly larger than life. A fantastic singer with a command over complex notes, her home is in the low grasses and scrub, but she obviously understands the need for a more public stage. Experienced birders know she just can’t resist the urge to hear her own voice, and it’s just a matter of time before she climbs up the reeds to break out into song. Even when she’s not singing, she loves to play to the gallery, and doesn’t balk at exhibiting her thespian skills to a potentially hostile audience. While logic dictates that she use her natural camouflage to skulk under the grass and escape predation, it is too low profile for our heroine. It’s almost as if she’s on camera, and when a predator threatens her nest, she’ll go into overdrive with her full arsenal of theatrical accompaniments. She will pretend to be severely wounded, tottering about with wings and tail outspread, ready to topple over any moment. While the potential predator is transfixed by the histrionics, she milks the moment by going full throttle on the melodrama, and staggers further and further away, leading him up the proverbial garden path. Just when it looks like dinner is ready to be served, the ‘prey’ recovers and flies off leaving the predator ruing the discovery that an egg in the nest was worth a bird in hand. And as the curtain goes down to loud whistles from other Babblers, you know you’ve just witnessed another virtuoso performance in Kabini.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 at 10:48 am and is filed under Birds . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. aashinee says:

    THEEEEE mosstttt beauuttiifuull clickkk i’vv ever seeenn…. 😀 😀 :D!keep it up :D!

  2. K.S.Shetty says:

    Excellent picture and befitting script describing the “Drama Queen”

  3. Ravi says:

    That was a lovely piece… loved the wit and use of human behavioural metaphors!

  4. Jodi Jones says:

    An amazing piece of writing and a stunning photo. I really look forward to every update you send as it is just simply: stunning!
    Please keep ’em rolling!

  5. Suresh says:

    Very well written caption and also superb photography. I have been following the bi-monthly email and emailers and always look forward to the next one.

  6. Rajasekhar says:

    Brilliant piece of writing. I will not forget the yellow-eyed Babbler for a long time. Of course, vibrant image.

  7. Uma Baghyalakshmi says:

    Great job Ajit. Looks like someone decided to write an ode in prose form to the Yellow-eyed Babbler………..!!!!!

  8. Ashwini Patil says:

    Wow, amazing bird and amazingly well written article…..! Cheers & Keep up the great work! Fans like me would love to hear from you often.

  9. Ganesh H. Shankar says:

    Cool(ing) ! Love that eye Ajit !

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