New records of Swinhoe’s and Ashy Minivet in Bengaluru, Karnataka

by Bhanu Sridharan
Ramki Sreenivasan
Ashy Minivet (L) & Swinhoe’s Minivet at the GKVK Botanic Garden, Bengaluru.

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The sightings of Ashy and Swinhoe’s Minivets in Bengaluru are significant given that there are very few records of these birds in India. More observations are needed to establish if they are winter visitors, passage migrants, or vagrants in the country.

Swinhoe’s Minivet, aka Brown-rumped Minivet, (Pericrocotus cantonensis), breeds in central, eastern, and south-eastern China, and winters in parts of southern Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam (BirdLife International 2016). The Ashy Minivet (P. divaricatus) breeds in parts of Siberia, China, Korea, and Japan. The species is a winter migrant to South and Southeast Asia (Robson 2008; BirdLife International 2016).

However, very little is known about the status of these two species in India.

This presents details of the first record of a Swinhoe’s Minivet, and probably the only acceptable record of Ashy Minivet, for the state of Karnataka. Both records are from the Botanical Garden, in the Gandhi Krishi Vignana Kendra (GKVK) campus in Bengaluru city.

On 27 February 2016, the author and Deepthi Chimalakonda spotted two birds moving with a flock of Small Minivets (P. cinnamomeus), at approximately 1000 hrs. While the birds could not be identified immediately, they noted that one of the individuals had extensive black on the head, and a greyish body. The other had a paler body overall, and more white on the head (Sridharan 2016). Over the course of the next few days, the author and other birdwatchers confirmed the the birds to be male Ashy and Swinhoe’s Minivet. Both individuals were subsequently seen several times by different bird watching groups, and were last reported from the GKVK Botanical Garden on 12 March 2016 (Murthy 2016).

Here is a useful field diagnostic guide to both species.

The sightings of Ashy and Swinhoe’s Minivets in Bengaluru are significant given that there are very few records of these birds in India. More observations are needed to to establish if one/both species is/are winter visitor/s, passage migrant/s, or vagrant/s in the country.

Reference: Sridharan, B., Viswanathan, A., Chimalakonda, D., Singal, R., Subramanya, S., & Prince, M., 2016. New records of Swinhoe’s Minivet Pericrocotus cantonensis, and Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricatus in Bengaluru city, Karnataka, India. Indian BIRDS 12 (2&3): 70–72.

About the author

Bhanu Sridharan

Bhanu is an ecologist and birder, frequenting the GKVK campus.



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