Welcome to the Bird Podcast — hosted by Shoba Narayan.
This podcast will focus largely on birds, specifically on Indian birds with occasional global forays.
India is home to some 1200 bird species, amongst the highest in the world. This podcast showcases and highlights our feathered friends
We will talk to naturalists and birders about common and special birds such as the Greater Coucal, Himalayan Quail, Nilgiri Flycatcher, the Malabar Trogon, the Great Indian Bustard, and other amazing species.
We will highlight issues both old and new. About India’s vanishing forests and wetlands and how it impacts birds. About breeding areas of migratory birds and how they are hunted en route. We will speak to the men and women who successfully saved the Amur Falcon from being massacred in Nagaland. And we will do individual podcasts on bird species of India.
Welcome to the Bird Podcast. Come fly away with us.
A Conversation with Dominique Homburger
In December 2019, Dr. Dominique Homberger visited Bangalore after a gap of ten years. She gave a talk at NCBS (National Centre for Biological Sciences). When we reached out to her, she immediately agreed to speak to us.
Are you interested in how parrot species and their beaks evolved? How do parrots eat? What is the link between the length of parrot beaks and what they eat-- fruits versus nuts? Have feathers evolved to insulate the birds? Why do feathers fluff up? Why is the body of the bird spindle-shaped? How do vultures soar? Parrots and the connection to Gondwanaland. Why is it bad when parrots in a cage start to speak? Contact calls among flocks of birds, how birds land on trees, are some of the other things she talks about.
Dr. Homberger is one of the world's foremost authorities on the order Psittaciformes (i.e., parrots and cockatoos) and their feeding behavior and ecology, which she has studied in her lab as well in their natural environment in Australia, India, and Southern Patagonia.
An alumni professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, USA, and the 2018–22 President of the International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU), Dr. Homberger's research has centred on comparative anatomy as a means to answer functional and evolutionary questions. She studies a variety of species from lampreys to sharks and salamanders, and from alligators, birds, and mammals to human beings.
She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Ornithological Society (AOS), and the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), and is an Honorary Member of The Linnaean Society of New York.
If you have ever been curious about parrots, parakeets and other members of the order Psittaciformes, this is the episode for you.
Dr. Homberger talks about how to study them, what makes them special, and what are the threats to their existence. She also has offered to help Indian scientists research parrots and parakeets.
This episode was produced by Ulhas Anand, edited by Tamanna Atreya and anchored by Shoba Narayan.
A Conversation with Jairam Ramesh
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A few years ago, I cold-emailed Jairam Ramesh, then minister of rural development, with one question: how could urban individuals contribute to rural India? He called me from Gumla, Jharkand. “Do you know where Gumla is?” he asked. Sheepishly, I said No. After some small talk—his mother lives in Bangalore— I asked how the average urban citizen could help rural India, should they desire to. What were his top five priorities?
Ramesh laughed and said that his top priorities such as land reform, rural infrastructure and employment were not things the average citizen could contribute to. “Those initiatives are for well meaning bankrupt governments, not for well meaning rich individuals like (your readers),” he said. “The bulk of investments in rural areas will have to come from government. To expect the private sector to make these huge investments is unrealistic.”
Since then, Ramesh moved on to become a charismatic Minister of Environment and Forests.
Born in Chikkamagalur, Jairam Ramesh is both a man of the forest and a man of the world. As a politician, minister, administrator and author, he has written and spoken about many topics. His most recent book, Indira Gandhi: a life in nature, is a portrait of a prime minister who happened to have a deep love of and empathy for the wild.
In this freewheeling talk, Jairam Ramesh discusses his term as Minister and talks about this land, our land--that is home to the elephant, the great indian bustard and the tiger.
Interview with Jennifer Ackerman
Click here to download Jennifer Ackerman has been writing about science and nature for 30 years. Her most recent book, The Genius of Birds (Penguin Press, April 2016), explores the intelligence of birds. Her previous books include Ah-Choo! The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold(Twelve Press, 2010), Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body(Houghton Mifflin, 2007), Chance in the House of Fate: A Natural History of Heredity(Houghton Mifflin 2001), and Notes from the Shore (Viking Penguin, 1995). A contributor to Scientific American, National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, and many other publications, Jennifer is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including an NEA Literature Fellowship in Nonfiction, a Bunting Institute Fellowship, and a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Her articles and essays have been included in several anthologies, among them, Best American Science Writing, The Nature Reader, Best Nature Writing, Flights of Imagination: Extraordinary Writings About Birds, and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. Jennifer’s work aims to explain and interpret science for a lay audience and to explore the riddle of humanity’s place in the natural world, blending scientific knowledge with imaginative vision. Learn more about Jennifer Ackerman by visiting her website.
Interview with Dr. Jerry Jackson
Click here to download Dr. Jerry Jackson is a legend in ornithology, for his life-long fascination with the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. I met him on a windy even in Lakes Park, Fort Myers for a chat about the birds of Southwest Florida. Interview with Dr. Jerome Jackson, a noted ornithologist based in Florida. And we are talking about Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida. Located in the heart of the Everglades ecosystem of Southwest Florida, Corkscrew swamp is home to raptors, barred owls, songbirds—there were a ton of Northern Cardinals and Carolina Wrens when I visited in April. And then there are waders—Spoonbills, Egrets, Herons, and most iconically, the Wood Stork. Corkscrew is famous for that. The website corkscrew.audobon.org has a list of all the birds along with some informational nuggets. Wetlands are different from other water bodies (lakes or rivers) and land forms in two ways. Their water level should not exceed six meters according to the Ramsar Convention and the type of aquatic plants as Dr. Jackson said. Wetlands need to have standing water for long enough to nourish aquatic plants. The Ramsar site at ramsar.org lists wetlands in a variety of neat ways: you can see how many each country has. The US has 36 and India has 26. Listen to the episode where Dr. Jackson gives fascinating and humorous descriptions of wetlands, biodiversity, and adaptations of Anhingas, Loggerhead Shrikes, Swallow-tailed Kites and Woodpeckers. Dr. Jackson is the author of the book, In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, found here.
The Keoladeo Ghana National Park is arguably India's most famous national park for birds. This episode offers you a bird's eye view of the park.
Shashank Dalvi's "Big Year of Birding" across India
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Shashank Dalvi's Big Year of Birding all over India.
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Being a birder myself, I am truly amazed to listen to Bird Podcast on Indian Birds.