Birds of the University of Pune

Yogesh Wadadekar

January 2000

Description of the campus

The University of Pune campus has an approximate area of 160 hectares and is located in the northwestern part of the city of Pune, India. Under British rule, the campus formed the summer residence of the Governor of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency. The Univerity of Poona (now, University of Pune), was established by an act of the legislature in 1948, soon after independence. The governor's residence became the main administrative complex in the University. Over the years several new buildings were constructed in the grounds of the governor's residence to house the academic departments of a growing university.

The campus is unique in India, in having extensive plantation of of an West-African deciduous plant Dalbergia melanoxylon, which dominates the open drylands, scrublands and patchy open deciduous forest on the campus. There are a few evergreen patches, and agricultural farmlands as well. All these together form a varied and fascinating combination of ecosystems supporting a wide variety of bird species.

There are three distinct seasons in this part of India: Summer (March-May), Rainy season (June-October), and Winter (November- February). The campus is verdant green during the rains, but the dominant color changes to brown soon after the rains are over. The area receives about 1000 m.m. of rain every year, most of it between June and September.

The flora

The University campus contains many fragmented patches of open dry deciduous forest. As mentioned above, the University is dominated by Dalbergia melaxylon. Other common large trees include Banyan (Ficus bengalensis), Red Silk Cotton (Salamalia malabarica), the Rain Tree (Pithecellobium saman), Gulmohur (Delonix regia), Neem (Azadarichta indica), the Indian Cork Tree (Millingtonia hortensis), Mango (Mangifera indica), Peepul (Ficus religiosa), the Flame of the Forest (Butea monosperma), and Copper Pod (Peltophorum roxburghii).

There are several open areas which support grass during the rains. However most of the grass is destroyed during the dry season.

The fauna

The mammals commonly seen on campus are: Bandicoot Rat (Bandicota indica), House Rat Rattus rattus, Small Indian Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus), Three Striped Squirrel (Funambulus palmarum), Hanuman Langur (Semnopithecus entellus) and Flying Fox (Pteropus giganteus). Jackals were common on campus until about 15 years ago, but they are no longer seen. Reptiles seen include 14 species of snakes, 1 species of Skink and 1 species of Garden Lizard. I am not aware of any efforts to document the butterflies and other insects found on the campus.

Bird observations

The birds presented in this list were observed during the period June 1997 to June 1999. I watched for birds in a intermittent and irregular fashion. Several uncommon species may have been missed because of this. This checklist only includes birds that I have personally sighted. It is intended to be used as a revised version of a similar checklist prepared by Jayshree Oberoi in 1996. All habitats in the University were covered more than once, so it is unlikely that a whole set of species characteristic of a particular habibat were missed.

The main reference used for bird identification was the Compact Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan by Salim Ali and S. Dillon Ripley. The English names are as listed in the Handbook. The Pictorial Guide of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by Salim Ali and S. Dillon Ripley was extensively used in the field as an identification aid, although all observations were compared with the descriptions in the Handbook, to avoid errors in identification.

The bird checklist

69 Species from as many as 29 families have been recorded in this checklist. Nesting records have been marked with an asterisk. Birds sighted less than three times (by me) may be considered to be rare and are indicated in bold letters. Subspecies have not been mentioned unless unambiguous identification was made (eg. Black Redstart). Unusual observations of bird behavior and nesting records for individual species are at the end of this checklist.

Family : Accipitridae

BROWN KITE Milvus migrans
SHIKRA* Accipiter badius
BLACKWINGED KITEElanus caeruleus

Family : Rallidae

WHITEBREASTED WATERHENAmaurornis phoenicurus

Family : Ardeidae

POND HERON Ardeola greyii
NIGHT HERON Nycticorax nycticorax
CATTLE EGRETBubulcus ibis
LITTLE EGRETEgretta garzetta

Family : Columbidae

BLUE ROCK PIGEON* Columba livia
SPOTTED DOVEStreptopelia chinensis
LITTLE BROWN DOVEStreptopelia senegalensis

Family : Charadriidae

YELLOW-WATTLED LAPWINGVanellus malabaricus

Family : Cuculidae

INDIAN KOELEudynamys scolopacea
INDIAN PLAINTIVE CUCKOOCacomantis passerinus
CROW PHEASANTCentropus sinensis

Family : Psittacidae

ROSERINGED PARAKEET*Psittacula krameri

Family : Apodidae

HOUSE SWIFTApus affinis

Family :Alcedinidae


Family: Capitonidae

CRIMSONBREASTED BARBET *Megalaima haemacephala

Family: Picidae

MAHRATTA WOODPECKERPicoides mahrattensis

Family : Hirundinidae

DUSKY CRAG MARTIN*Hirundo concolar
COMMON SWALLOWHirundo rustica

Family : Laniidae


Family : Oriolidae

GOLDEN ORIOLE*Oriolus oriolus

Family : Sturnidae

COMMON MYNAAcridotheres tristis
JUNGLE MYNAAcridotheres fuscus
BRAHMINYMYNASturnus pagodarum

Family : Irenidae

IORAAegithina tiphia

Family : Picnonotidae

REDVENTED BULBUL*Pycnonotus cafer
REDWHISKERED BULBUL*Pycnonotus jocosus

Family : Muscicapidae

LARGE GREY BABBLERTurdoides malcolmi
TICKELL'S BLUE FLYCATCHERMuscicappa tickelliae
ASHY WREN WARBLERPrinia socialis
PLAIN WREN WARBLER Prinia subflava
MAGPIE ROBINCopsicus saularis
BLACK REDSTARTPhoenicurus ochrurus phoenicuroides
INDIAN ROBINSaxicoloides fulicata
TAILOR BIRDOrthotomus sutorius
BROWN LEAF WARBLERPhylloscopus collybita

Family : Paridae

GREY TITParus major

Family : Nectarinidae

PURPLERUMPED SUNBIRD*Nectarinia zeylonica
PURPLE SUNBIRDNectarinia asiatica

Family : Zosteropidae

WHITE EYE*Zosterops palpebrosa

Family : Ploecidae

SPOTTED MUNIA*Loncura punctulata
BAYA WEAVER BIRD*Ploceus phillipinus
HOUSE SPARROWPasser domesticus

Family : Mottacillidae

GREY WAGTAILMotacilla caspica
LARGE PIED WAGTAILMotacilla maderaspatensis
WHITE WAGTAILMotacilla alba

Family : Meropidae

SMALL GREEN BEE-EATERMerops orientalis

Family : Upupidae

HOOPOEUpupa epops

Family : Bucerotidae

GREY HORNBILL* Tockus birostris

Family : Dicruridae

BLACK DRONGODicrurus adsimilis

Family : Corvicidae

JUNGLE CROWCorvus macrorhyncos
HOUSE CROW*Corvus splendens

Family : Strigidae

MOTTLED WOOD-OWLStrix ocellata

Family: Coraciidae

ROLLER Coracias benghalensis

Family: Campephagidae

SMALL MINIVETPericrocotus cinnamomeus

Family: Dicaeidae

TICKELL'S FLOWERPECKERDicaeum erythrorhynchos


  1. Ali, S. 1979, The Book of Indian Birds , B.N.H.S., Mumbai.
  2. Ali, S. and Dillon Ripley, S. 1995, The Pictorial Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent, B.N.H.S., Mumbai.
  3. Ali, S. and Dillon Ripley, S. 1987, Compact Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan Second Edition, B.N.H.S., Mumbai.
  4. Oberoi, J. 1996, Birds of the University of Pune Campus,
  5. Prater S. H 1985, The Book of Indian Animals, B.N.H.S, Mumbai.
  6. Wadadekar, Y. 1999, Snakes of the University of Pune Campus,

A continuously updated, searchable, database backed version of this document should become available at the following URL sometime soon.



This diverse avian heritage of the University of Pune is threathened today by habitat destruction, fragmentation and increased human disturbance.

Several new buildings have come up on campus in recent years resulting in loss of bird habitat. Many of the new buildings are surrounded by close cropped lawns resulting in further habitat loss. Even in some wooded areas, the undergrowth has been indiscriminately cleared to make way for development of the area. This has adversely affected the nesting and feeding of undergrowth flitters like the 10 species from the Warbler sub-family found on campus. Dry trees (some of them are termite affected) are regularly chopped off. Several birds on campus like the Crimsonbreasted Barbet and the Grey Hornbill build their nests in the dry hollow trunks of dead tr ees.

Some open areas (which are labeled wastelands by the University authorities) have been converted to walkways. This has severely threathened the nesting of ground nesting birds such as the Redwattled Lapwing and the Yellow-wattled Lapwing.

There has been considerable increase in vehicular and pedestrian traffic through the campus in the last 5 years. Many people drive to the campus early in the morning and have their morning walk through the campus. This time coincides with the time of maximum bird activity which is affected by the heavy influx of people. This problem is particularly severe on weekends and during the summer vacations.

Unusual sightings and nesting records

  1. BLUE ROCK PIGEON Columba livia: observed nesting thorough the year on inaccessible terraces of the IUCAA campus.
  2. REDWATTLED LAPWING Vanellus indicus: About 10 nesting records. Typically 3-4 eggs per brood. The survival rate of the eggs is very poor because all open areas of the campus are disturbed by passing humans and grazing animals. Eggs are laid in April-May but because of poor breeding success, repeated layings occur. The last nesting of the season was observed as late as October.
  3. DUSKY CRAG MARTIN Hirundo concolar
  4. GOLDEN ORIOLE* Oriolus oriolus
  5. REDVENTED BULBUL Pycnonotus cafer: About 5 nesting records. This bird commonly nests in the vicinity of humans and seems to be little disturbed by human presence.
  6. REDWHISKERED BULBUL Pycnonotus jocosus: One nest recorded. This species is not as common as Pycnonotus cafer
  7. BLACK REDSTART Phoenicurus ochrurus phoenicuroides: Single male seen in 1998-99 winter at IUCAA, single female seen in 1999-2000. Both birds were always spotted on or around a Ficus benghalensis tree.
  8. PURPLERUMPED SUNBIRD* Nectarinia zeylonica: A beautifully concealed nest in July 1998 on an AT tree at IUCAA. Bird at nest videographed by Arvind Paranjpye (
  9. WHITE EYE* Zosterops palpebrosa: A nest seen in Akashganga, the IUCAA housing complex in July 1999. 3 eggs.
  10. SPOTTED MUNIA* Loncura punctulata: Nests every year in July in the Sierpienski's Gasket garden at IUCAA on orange trees. Most attempts unsuccessful because of predation by cats.
  11. BAYA WEAVER BIRD* Ploceus phillipinus: Many nests on a babool tree near the IUCAA swimming pool.
  12. MOTTLED WOOD-OWL Strix ocellata : A single record in December 1997. The bird was being mobbed by crows on an early winter morning in the gardens of the Takshashila apartments of IUCAA. Was this the last of this species on the campus?
  13. ROLLER Caracias benghalensis: Single record from the IUCAA rose Garden by Niranjan Sambhus ( and Parampreet Singh (


Feedback about the contents of this document will be gratefully received. Please address your comments to

Yogesh Wadadekar

I-1 Rajat,

968/20 S Bapat Rd.

Pune 411016

Email: yogeshw \at/

File translated from TEX by TTH, version 2.67.
On 1 May 2000, 16:54.