Lifescapes Gallery

5 / Oct / 2011
The Tuneful Thief of Coorg
Scaly-breasted Munia, Coorg Photograph: Sudhir Shivaram Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

The Tuneful Thief of Coorg

He’s small, cheerful, and is known to be a good singer, often humming a gentle tune under his breath as he goes about his business. What stands out, however, is the audience reaction to his songs, which varies from frustrated sighs, to strangulated oaths and the odd expletive tossed his way. For the paddy farmers of Coorg, their grain is their fortune, and the arrival of these feathered minstrels is definitely not good news. The favourite food of the Munias is grass seeds or grain, and they prefer to forage on the open grasslands or cultivated paddy fields. The Munia may be small, but he’s a gregarious bird who hates dining alone. Every time he feeds, he brings along his friends, and when a flock of more than a hundred guests descend, uninvited, for dinner, you can be forgiven for expressing yourself in vocabulary that’d put a sailor to shame. While the smaller flocks feed rather haphazardly, the larger flocks have an established pattern: first a few birds move forward to feed, followed by another group and another… or else the group at the back leapfrogs the group in front, and so on, till the paddy patch has been thoroughly worked over. And the fuming farmer, thoroughly worked up! At the end of a successful paddy heist, several flocks gather on a treetop and exchange calls. This is often the time when a contented Munia decides to woo his woman with a trademarked jingle with several high notes ending in a slurred whistle. Whether this works or not, the song often draws other males who perch close to the singer and peer intently at his bill. Such close scrutiny by ‘peering’ Toms, however, doesn’t faze him. For there’s a song on his bill and he’s eaten his fill, and what more could a Munia want?

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, October 5th, 2011 at 6:51 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. nagesh amin says:


    I’m a naturalist


  2. Anu Elisha says:

    Beautiful photograph. The clarity and colours are simply amazing. I wish I could pack my bags right now and catch the next cab to Kabini 😉

  3. chayaa Nanjappa says:

    A great picture. Its really fantastic.

  4. jagadish bopaiah. machimanda says:

    Very good picture! I want to see more picture like rare birds and animals.

  5. ajay kering says:

    Too good picture and many thanks for sending such infomative mails. Keep- It -Up

  6. R.Dass Gupthaa says:

    very nice, eye catching, good looking

  7. Krishna Barmaiya says:

    very very cute bird

  8. subrata pal says:

    very nice, beautiful.

  9. Anil Ghei, Hotelier says:

    You are doing a great job…!

  10. sethu ratna says:



    nice photograph, Munia is very cool, and focused. thanks to Orange Country to provide us such a nice pictures time to time.

  12. Ajit K Huilgol says:

    As soon as I saw the image, I knew it had to be Sudhir! Very few can get that much detail in a subject, and that bokeh is to die for!

  13. Narayanan Raju says:

    What a fantastic picture and an equally absorbing writeup! In this age of mechanical city life, even getting to hear such sweet songs by these birds is a rarity. Thanks for taking us back to great memories! We would love to be back in Orange County just for experiences such as this.

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