Birds are among the most eye-catching and beloved creatures. These ‘feathered bipeds’ have fascinated human beings due to their colourful plumage, ability to produce a range of sounds, migration patterns and various behaviours which showcase their intelligence and creativity. Bird books are very popular, providing a wealth of knowledge for birding enthusiasts the world over.
The pocket guide ‘Birds of Hampi’ by Samad Kottur describes 230 avian species found in and around the famous Hampi ruins in the southern state of Karnataka. As the area attracts a large number of national and international tourists, the book will serve as an accurate and informative guide to the birds of the region. It is equally useful for students, researchers, ornithologists and bird lovers to explore and learn about the diverse bird population of this area. The book is illustrated with image of each species accompanied with their key descriptive characteristics and breeding plumage. Brief mention of habitat will help beginners to understand the region as well. As it is to serve primarily as a field guide, it is not a complete substitute to more detailed bird books of India, but it is a good introduction to birds of this specific area.
The Bombay Natural History Society and BirdLife International have selected Hampi as an Important Bird Area (IBA) as it holds a significant population of the Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus, a globally threatened species. More than 100 years ago, Allan Octavian Hume saw about 20 pairs in June 1901 in Bellary district and they have been observed by bird lovers and nature enthusiasts ever since. This endemic Indian bird species is restricted to the southern Deccan plateau. Protection of its dry, scrub, thorny habitat in Hampi vicinity is essential to conserve this unique species. In my book Important Bird Areas of India that came out in
2004, I had written, “Not much is known about other birds of this area. This is one of the few sites in India selected as an IBA only on the basis of one known globally threatened species.” Samad’s book has ably addressed this gap in our knowledge of the bird life of this interesting historical region in this book.