Lifescapes Gallery

29 / Jun / 2011
The Scent of a Bird
Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Coorg Photograph: Dr. Bishan Monnappa Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

The Scent of a Bird

If you can’t hear the telltale rat-a-tat of someone drumming on a tree bark, or even if you can’t spot those fashionable heart patterns fluttering amidst the leaves, don’t lose heart. For, if you’re seeking Coorg’s most romantic citizen, you don’t have to look too hard. In fact, very often you don’t have to look at all. Just close your eyes and take a deep breath. And follow your nose as it leads you to the black and buff Heart-spotted Woodpecker. This unique specimen of Woodpecker doesn’t just believe in wearing his heart on his shoulders, but also releases a very pleasant perfume every so often, just to get the mood right. This sweet smell emanates from a resin secreted by the skin gland, which is unique in the avian world, and confers on him a status reserved in the human world for the likes of Christian Dior, Coco Chanel and Yves St. Laurent. This perfumer-par-excellence struts around in a black dress with trademark black hearts painted on a white shoulder plumage, and also sports a majestic crest that gives him a top-heavy look. Unlike other woodpeckers that bang away at tree trunks, he prefers to forage on thin, terminal branches of tall trees for his repast of insects and larvae. One doesn’t know if this is merely happenstance, or if the Heart-spotted Woodpecker is deliberately staying away from prying eyes that may seek the secret ingredients for that wondrous perfume. Ornithologists and naturalists have long been at a loss to explain the functional significance of this smell, but we know better don’t we? Sometimes when one creates a thing of beauty, one doesn’t need a reason for it. For, things of the heart don’t need to be understood…just enjoyed!

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, June 29th, 2011 at 10:22 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. Leigh Yballe says:

    Its fantastic as your other blog posts : D, thanks for putting up.

  2. computer plus electronic says:

    Justice is truth in actions.

  3. Milagros Mauss says:

    I was looking at some of your content on this site and I believe this website is very instructive! Keep putting up.

  4. S G Neginhal IFS(Retd) says:

    It is a discovery for me that the bird emits sweet smell. Thanks for the information.

  5. Vikram Nanjappa says:

    It also has a lovely nest which is a tiny hole 3 to 4 cm in dia. passing downwards to a depth of 15 – 20 cm into a somewhat widened egg chamber. It commonly perches crosswise on twigs and has a weak and undulating flight which can be described as an exaggerated caricature of the bounding flight of the woodpecker family.A lovely little bird !!

  6. Dr Sameer R. Rao says:

    Marvellous image of the beautiful bird.Thanks for giving us the glimpses of the beautiful Kodagu through your images

  7. Vinod Kumar VK says:

    Fantastic Pic!!! The text is very nice..

  8. Vipin Baliga says:

    Absolutely brilliant picture doc..!!!
    Beauty very well portrayed… 🙂

  9. Bishan Monnappa says:

    Thank You all for the kind comments and appreciation.The Lifescapes is getting better everyday. I feel Rajesh is at his literary best in this.
    “Things of the heart don’t need to be understood…just enjoyed!”

  10. VENUPRASAD says:


  11. Harisankar Kurup says:

    A truly wonderful photograph and narrative of an extraordinary citizen of an equally extraordinary Coorg!!!

  12. Dr. Satish Sharma says:

    Outstanding photography and a fabulous story of this bird that steals your heart. Keep flying Lifescapes Team!

  13. Nanda says:

    Fantastic shot and nice write up to go with it. Totally agree on not needing any reason to create a thing of beauty. 🙂

  14. Devanand says:

    Great article & pic! Allow me to ruin their brilliance with a corny comment: This cupid’s poster boy will be an instant hit at any ave party – everybody nose him.

  15. Mathew George says:

    Oh!What a Fantastic Image and an equally brilliant write-up.
    Keep up the good work.

  16. Ajit K Huilgol says:

    What a rare sighting and an even rarer perfect image!

  17. Srikanth GP says:

    Wow extremely marvelous & rare capture !! Doc…. first time for me…. TFS

  18. Rajan says:

    Brilliant Photo. Would be grateful if you can share with me the Exif details and the photo gear used . . .

    • Bishan Monnappa says:

      Thanks Rajan.
      Here’s the Exif data.

      File type: JPEG
      File size: 4,101.2 KB
      Camera: NIKON D300
      Lens: AF-S VR Nikkor 600mm F4G ED
      Dimension: 4288 x 2848 px (12.2 MP, 3:2)
      Focal length: 600 mm (equiv. 900 mm)
      Aperture: F4
      Exposure time: 1/100″ (-0.67 EV)
      ISO speed rating: 200/24°
      Program: Aperture priority
      Metering Mode: Spot
      White Balance: Auto
      Focus Mode: AF-S
      Image Stabilizer: Off
      Noise Reduction: Off
      Flash: Flash did not fire

  19. Sujit says:

    Lovely, as usual. Tongue-in-cheek, as usual.

    Carry on the great work!



  20. trevor irvine says:

    really appreciate the variety of your birdlife and look forward to your regular emails. great photos keep up the good work (from australia)

  21. Narayan says:

    Beautiful shot!!!!!!!! wow!!!!!!

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