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Salim Ali and J. Daniel; The Book of Indian Birds, 13th ed. First published in , it was the first birding book meant for the average Indian lay person. All earlier books had been published in London, and were largely meant for British audiences and were mostly unavailable in India.
This volume achieved mass sales with its low-cost and excellent descriptions, although the artwork, as Ali concedes in his introduction to the edition, were sometimes "downright bad".
My brother gifted me a copy of the 11th edition in , and i have used the book simply to study the birds that come to my lawn - of which there are some species I live in a rich eco-sphere. Since or so, I have been taking bird-watching more seriously, going further afield in search of birds and maintaining a blog. Another innovation was on specifying size. Quoting from the edition: To me it seems that describing the Spotted Dove, for example, as "Between the Myna and the Pigeon" gives a far clearer idea of the size than "Length 12 inches.
Crow : 17" B Quail : " H. Kite: 24" C Bulbul : 8" I. Duck: 24" D Myna : 9" J. Village hen: " E. Pigeon : 13" K. Vulture 36" F. Partridge: 13" To me, this scale makes immense sense to anyone familiar with the Indian landscape not birds in particular.
The book has undergone many changes in the intervening years, but these features remain useful, and continue. We realize that being the size of a "myna" may be less helpful for an international birdwatcher, but for an Indian it seems obvious. This is the sense in which it is a book meant for the Indian audience, whom it has served very well indeed over many decades.
To my mind, this still remains the best book to buy for the inexperienced amateur birdwatcher. True, it does not cover all species you are likely to see in India, but it was more than a decade after my first interest in birds that I ran into a species that wasn't in the book The thirteenth edition The twelfth edition was revamped completely on the occasion of Salim Ali's birth centenary, and the old illustrations were replaced by excellent artwork by Goa-based nature artist and original Salim Ali collaborator Carl D'Silva.
These have been retained in the 13th edition, so the field guide part of the book is quite useful. But what makes the book worthwhile for the beginning birdwatcher are Salim Ali's colourful descriptions of their habits and behaviour. This list does not cover many of the rarer species - South Asia sees about species, and [Grimmett etal] list on plates.
Grimmett is therefore more comprehensive, even listing some 95 more than the Handbook, which had species new sightings and species re-classification accounting for the increase. The list of birds is not meant to be comprehensive, but it does cover almost everything the beginning bird-watcher may encounter. It includes a section with a few paragraphs descriing the birds, written in Salim Ali's inimitable and colourful style, and this makes it much more useful than a set of sketches with minimal descriptions.
Much of the beauty and interest in birds lies in their behaviour, and this I feel is much better served, at least for the majority of the birds an average birdwatcher is likely to encounter, in the Ali edition than in Grimmett or other more comprehensive but sparser volumes.
The one thing missing in this volume, compared to Grimmett or Grewal, are maps showing where the bird is most likely to be found. Common names of Indian birds From this edition, the taxonomy of the birds shifted to the newer DNA based system, originally proposed by Sibley and Monroe. Daniel notes that this was surely "uncalled for" Unfortunately these have now been internationally adopted, and now BNHS has reluctantly followed suit.
JC Daniel of the Bombay Natural History Society, writes in the preface: The classification of birds has been undergoing periodic upheavals since the time of the first edition of "Fauna of British India" by Oates and Blanford.
The publication of the "Synopsis" by S. This is unfortunate as many of the common English names used in the subcontinent for over a century have been summarily thrown overboard. One can feel a sense of frustration behind these words -- Indian birders were possibly under-represented at these Congresses, and now these other names have become the international standard.
Some changes resulted from species that were merged, e. Indeed, the group "starling" may be better called mynah because of the preponderance in the genus. At the same time, the "warbler" nature of the "Streaked Fantail Warbler", was now discarded; it is called "Zitting Cisticola". While in many cases, there are genuine reasons for merging the species based on a wider international record, some of the Indian names, could have also been retained.
Excerpts Hoopoe Habits: Fond of lawns, gardens and groves in and around villages and towns. Walks and runs with a quail-like but waddling gait, probing into the soil for food with bill partly open like forceps. When digging, the crest is folded back and projects in a point behind the head. It is flicked open and erected fanwise from time to time. Call: A soft, musical, penetrating, hoo-po or hoo-po-po repeated in runs, often intermittently for 10 minutes at a stretch.
Diet: Insects, grubs, and pupae, hence beneficial to agriculture. Nest: natural tree-hollow or hole in wall or ceiling of building, untidily lined with straw, rags and rubbish. Eggs - 5 or 6, white. Nest is notorious for its filthiness and stench. Contrast with Grimmett etal's deadpan description: Summer visitor to far north; resident and winter visitor to much of rest of subcontinent. Rufous-orange or orange-buff, with black-and-white wings and tail and black-tipped fan like crest. Open country, cultivation and villages.
Grimmett shows only with crest erect. Flight picture in Grimmett is better Colourful language - on the white-breasted waterhen: As the bird circumspectly stalks along the ground or skulks its way through the hedges and undergrowth its stumpy tail, carried erect, is constantly twitched up displaying prominently the red underneath.
Salim Moizuddin Abdul Ali's or Dr. Salim Ali, as he is better known name was synonymous with birds. To his many associates however, he was much more than that. A great visionary, he made birds a serious pursuit when it used to be a mere fun for the most. Orphaned at a very young age, Salim Ali was brought up by his maternal uncle, Amiruddin Tyabji.
Uncle Amiruddin was a keen Shikari Hunter and nature-lover. Under his guidance young Salim learnt his first lessons in Shikar and became aware of the nature around him.
When Salim was ten years old, his uncle presented him with an air-gun. One day young Salim shot a sparrow which had a yellow streak below its neck.
He somehow found the courage and walked in through the door. That single incident changed his whole life and gave India it's best ornithologist. Millard identified the sparrow as the Yellow-throated Sparrow, and showed him the Society's splendid collection of stuffed birds. Salim became interested in birds through this incident and wanted to pursue his career in ornithology. Since there were no jobs connected with natural history in , Salim Ali and his wife Tehmina went off to Burma to look after the family mining and timber business.
It was a rewarding experience for the naturalist as there were endless opportunities to explore the forests of Burma. The business did not flourish and he had to return to India. After returning to India, Salim Ali tried to get a job as an ornithologist with the Zoological Survey of India but since he did not have an M.
Xavier's College, the post went to someone else. Salim Ali decided to study further after he managed to get a job of a guide lecturer at the newly opened natural history section of the Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai. He realized that it was important to pursue further studies if he wanted to take up ornithology as a profession rather than a part time interest. He went on study leave to Germany where he trained under Professor Stresemann, an acknowledged ornithologist, whom Salim Ali considered his Guru.
Despite his studies at the prestigious university abroad Salim Ali was unable to get job. It was then that he hit upon an idea. The princely States: There were vast tracts of India, particularly the princely states whose avifauna had been little explored or studied. He offered to conduct regional ornithological surveys of these areas for the BNHS. He would give his services gratis provided the Society and the state authorities would fund the camping and transport.
The princely states were only too eager to have their birds recorded for posterity, and they readily agreed to this novel idea. From there onwards he began his life as a nomad. Daniel : Born in Nagercoil and brought up in Trivandrum, Jivanayakam Cyril Daniel's tryst with nature began as a young boy. His childhood memories include jackals howling into the night, to the accompaniment of the haunting calls of Hawk Owls. His mother's empathy towards animals and his father's scholarly pursuits encouraged him to frequent Trivandrum's excellent public library, where books on African wildlife whetted his budding curiosity for the natural world.
Influenced early in his life by Dr. When he retired as its Director in he was promptly elected an Honorary Member and is now its Honorary Secretary. Traditions diverge when populations are isolated, and since we are nowadays enjoined to respect multicultural diversity, should we not also respect the variation within the 'English' cultural radiation?
It is definitely useful to the globetrotting birdwatcher Change that benefits everybody is good. But change for the sake of change is another thing. The globalization of bird names impoverishes the unique culture, history, character and literature, the very fabric, of a nation's ornithological history.
Although published well before the end deadline, the BNHS list was apparently ignored by the IOC project whose Oriental subcommittee contained no Asians , and escapes mention in their meagre bibliography. The Indians tried, and failed, to get their voice heard. Mentioned in the Introduction, and echoed by the Indians, is the major objection that nomenclatural uniformity is supposed to be vested in the scientific 'Latin' names as codified by Linnaeus in So why replicate this in English?
Given that English is now the international scientific lingua franca , there is a case for a set of names recognized by all English-speaking ornithologists, not least because they are often in practice more stable than the Latin ones, but that is no reason to abolish local variations. However, the IOC list is clearly designed to do just that, as the authors urge birders, editors, government agencies and conservation organizations to comply with the 'International English Name'.
The Book of Indian Birds by Salim Ali
This much-awaited revised edition includes the extensive changes in the scientific and common bird names that have taken place since the last revision in Following the publication, in , of the list of Standardized Common and Scientific Names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent in the Buceros 6 1 , the common and scientific names have been modified based on this list. It is expected that this will provide uniformity in the names used throughout the Subcontinent and outside, and help birdwatchers to communicate better while exchanging their observations. The Alternate Common Names given in the earlier edition have been removed. The Index of common names of species, giving plate and serial numbers, has been replaced with separate Indexes of Scientific and Common names according to page numbers. Minor errors that were overlooked in the earlier edition have also been rectified.
The Book of Indian Birds
Salim Ali and J. Daniel; The Book of Indian Birds, 13th ed. First published in , it was the first birding book meant for the average Indian lay person. All earlier books had been published in London, and were largely meant for British audiences and were mostly unavailable in India. This volume achieved mass sales with its low-cost and excellent descriptions, although the artwork, as Ali concedes in his introduction to the edition, were sometimes "downright bad".