Birds of the University of Pune Campus

Spotted Owlet

Jayshree Awatade[+]

The University of Pune Campus

As I walked through the gate of the University of Pune one and a half years ago I did not know that this was the start of a bond that was to last a lifetime. My first impression of this place was very similar to that of a parched wanderer in the Sahara when he spots an oasis. Since childhood I have always had a fascination for Nature.

Twenty years in Bombay had not provided me an opportunity to be in close proximity with nature, but this place presented me that and not for a day or two, but for two years. This University, provided me with an excellent opportunity for pursuing my interest in birds.

The University of Pune, in addition to being a highly esteemed educational institution is also famed for its variety of ecosystems spread over an area of about four hundred acres.

University campus has the largest cultivation of Dalbergia , open drylands, scrublands, few evergreen patches, agricultural farmlands and small waterbodies. All these together form a very fascinating combination of ecosystems.

Seasonal changes are very well noticed here. The tiny green leaves of Dalbergia melanoxylem and green carpets on the ground dissappear soon after monsoon. Cold breeze sweeps away the greenery, but soon the warmth of the spring sprinkles pink and red colours on the Glyricidia and Silk Cotton trees. In March a brilliant yellow appears on the Cassias. Small dark red Ficus fruits attract not only the eyes of the passerby but also a variety of birds.

This campus locally known as Ganeshkhind lies at 18 degrees 34' North latitude and 73 degrees 53' East longitude. It has a mean elevation of about 575 metres above sea level.

The total area of the campus is 6,50,000 square metres out of which 1,16,619.8 square metres is used for construction. Average maximum temperature of this place over the last two years has been 30 to 35 degrees Celsius and the average minimum temperature is 18 to 20 degrees Celsius. Absolute minimum and maximum temperatures were 2.7 and 40.3 degrees celsius respectively, over the last two years. This place receives average annual rainfall of 900 to 1000 mm usually over four months in a year, from June to October. But sometimes most of the rainfall is received over a week's period in July-September.


My observations cover a period of one and half years, July 1993-December 1994. The observations were made at least once a week. The birds were identified by plumage, through binoculars following The Book Of Indian Birds and The Pictorial Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent .

The checklist (List 1) contains seventy six species of birds. When this list was compared with the checklist made by Dr. Goel in 1974 , 22 species of birds were present in that list that were not sighted by me (List 3). Other birdwatchers like Yogesh Wadadekar and Ramana Athreya have either sighted these birds or heard their calls, but this need further verification.

Grey This campus provides shelter for variety of birds. Some are migratory but most of them are residential. Although the distribution is more or less uniform there are patches like University Park, old swimming pool, nursery and Botany garden which have a higher density of birds than other places in the campus. Paradise Flycatcher, Hornbill and some waterbirds are the major attractions of University Park. Near old swimming pool too, many birds can be seen.

Birds like Pheasant-tailed Jacana are not seen on the campus anymore. There is only one waterbody left on campus and that is the old swimming pool. Even this place is now highly disturbed. The small lotus pond in the University park dries up soon after the monsoons. Khadki pond which was an ideal place for such birds was drained and converted into plantation. The forested area is being drastically reduced. University park which is good bird habitat, is also highly disturbed as it has become a favoured picnic spot.

These observations provide just qualitative data. Due to insufficient time, quantitative studies could not be undertaken. However I hope that this work would be helpful for amateur birdwatchers and future detailed studies.


I am obliged to Dr. Jagadale and his wife, Neelam for their encouragement and helpful suggestions. To Dr. Ajit Kembhavi for his valuable comments and suggestions.

I am indebted to Dr. Gadgil of the Geography Department and the people at the Estate Office for providing me with the necessary information regarding the University campus.

There are no words to convey my thanks to all my friends and classmates.

List 1


C Common
O Occasional
S Stray
M Migratory

  1. Family : Accipitridae
    Whitebacked VultureGyps benghalensis
    Pariah Kite Milvus migrans
    Shikra Accipiter badius
    Blackwinged Kite Elanus caeruleus
  2. Family : Rallidae
    Whitebreasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
    Indian Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
  3. Family : Ardeidae
    Pond Heron Ardeola greyii
    Night Heron Nycticorax nyctycorax
    Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
    Little Egret Egretta garzetta
  4. Family : Phalacrocoracidae
    Little Cormorant Phalacocorax niger
  5. Family : Columbidae
    Blue Rock Pigeon Columba livia
    Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Little Brown Dove Streptopelia senegalensis
  6. Family : Charadriidae
    Redwattled LapwingVanellus indicus
    Wood SandpiperTringa glareola
  7. Family : Cuculidae
    Pied Crested Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus
    Indian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea
    Crow Pheasant Centropus sinensis
  8. Family : Psittacidae
    Roseringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
  9. Family : Apodidae
    Palm Swift Cypsiurus sinensis
    House Swift Apus affinis
  10. Family :Alcedinidae
    Whitebreasted Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
    Small Blue Kingfisher Alcedo althis
  11. Family: Capitonidae
    Coppersmith Megalaima haemocephala muller
  12. Family : Picidae
    Mahratta Woodpecker Picoides mahrattensis
  13. Family : Hirundinidae
    Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris
    Dusky Crag Martin Hirundo concolar
    Common Swallow Hirundo rustica
    Redrumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
  14. Family : Laniidae
    Rufousbacked Shrike Lanius schach
  15. Family : Oriolidae
    Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
  16. Family : Sturnidae
    Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
    Brahmini Myna Sternus pagodarum
  17. Family : Campephagidae
    Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus
    Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus
  18. Family : Irenidae
    Iora Aegithina tiphia
  19. Family : Picnonotidae
    Redvented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer
  20. Family : Muscicapidae
    Large Grey Babbler Turdoides malcolmi
    Jungle Babbler Turdoides striatus
    Redbreasted Flycatcher Muscicapa parva
    Whitebrowed Fantail Flycatcher Rhipidura auriola
    Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi
    Tickell's Blue Flycatcher Muscicappa tickelliae
    Ashy Wren Warbler Prinia socialis
    Indian Wren Warbler Prinia subflava
    Streaked Fantail Warbler Cisticola juncidis
    Magpie Robin Copsicus saularis
    Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
    Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata
    Tailor Bird Orthotomus sutorius
  21. Family : Paridae
    Grey Tit Parus major
    Yellowcheeked Tit Parus xanthogenys
  22. Family : Nectarinidae
    Purplerumped Sunbird Nectarinia zeylonica
    Purple Sunbird Nectarinia asiatica
  23. Family : Zosteropidae
    White Eye Zosterops palpebrosa
  24. Family : Ploecidae
    Red Munia Estrilda amandara
    Spotted Munia Loncura punctulata
    Whitethroated Munia Loncura malabarica
    Baya Weaver Bird Ploceus phillipinus
    House Sparrow Passer domesticus
  25. Family : Mottacillidae
    Grey Wagtail Motacilla caspica
    Large Pied Wagtail Motacilla maderaspatensis
    White Wagtail Motacilla alba
    Yellowheaded Wagtail Motacilla citreola
  26. Family : Meropidae
    Small Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis
  27. Family : Upupidae
    Hoopoe Upupa epops
  28. Family : Bucerotidae
    Grey Hornbill Tockus birostris
  29. Family : Dicruridae
    Black Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis
  30. Family : Corvicidae
    Jungle Crow Corvus macrorhyncos
    House Crow Corvus splendens
  31. Family : Strigidae
    Spotted Owlet Athene brama
  32. Family : Coraciidae
    Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis
  33. Family : Turdinae
    Black Redstart Phoenicurus orchruros
  34. Family : Artamidae
    Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata
  35. Family : Phasianidae
    Domestic Fowl Gallus domesticus

    List 2: Birds sighted by other birdwatchers

    1. Rosy Pastor

    2. Alexandrine Parakeet

    3. Booted Hawk Eagle

    4. Short-toed Eagle

    5. Eastern Steppe Eagle

    6. Small Indian Pratincole

    7. Cliff Swallow

    8. Drongo Cuckoo

    9. Tickell's Flowerpecker

    10. Grey Drongo

    11. Mottled Wood Owl

    12. Booted Tree Warbler

    13. Blackheaded Cuckoo-shrike

    14. Common Indian Nightjar

    15. Blackbellied Finch Lark

    16. Baybacked Shrike

    17. Common Hawk Cuckoo

    18. Plaintive Cuckoo

    19. Common Wood Shrike

    20. Large Cuckoo-shrike

    21. Wire Tailed Swallow

    List 3: Bird's noted on Dr. Goel's list and not on mine

    1. Indian Bustard Quail

    2. Pheasant Tailed Jacana

    3. Yellow-wattled Lapwing

    4. Fantail Snipe

    5. Painted Snipe
    6. Redwinged Bush Lark

    7. Blackbellied Finch Lark

    8. Baybacked Shrike

    9. Blossomheaded Parakeet

    10. Hawk Cuckoo

    11. Plaintive Cuckoo

    12. Wood Shrike

    13. Large Cuckoo-shrike

    14. Redwhiskered Bulbul

    15. Blue Rock Thrush

    16. Paddy Field Pipit

    17. Wiretailed Swallow

    18. Rose Finch

    19. Little Grebe

    20. Kestrel

    21. Greenshank

    22. Green Pigeon


    1. Ali, S. 1979. The Book Of Indian Birds , B.N.H.S., Bombay.
    2. Ali, S. and Dillon Ripley, S., Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Compact Volume. 1983. Oxford University Press, Bombay, India.
    3. Ali, S. and Dillon Ripley, S., The Pictorial Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. B.N.H.S., Bombay, India.
    4. Dr. Humayun Abdulali, Checklist of the Birds of Maharashtra.
    5. Goel Dr. Suresh, 1976, Birds of the Campus of Poona University, Journal of the University of Poona.

    Mail: NCRA, Post Bag 3, Ganeshkhind, Pune 411007, India


    Last modified on: Tue Apr 5 15:45:22 2005