Sometime ago, Asai, a modern Tamil poet who is a writer and editor of Chennai-based Cre-A publications, approached P Jeganathan on NCF with an idea of bringing out a dictionary of birds in Tamil. He had made an initial draft of the manuscript with 50 species of birds, taking help from Dr. R. Bhanumathi, an environment educationist. The initial list was extracted from Cre-A’s Tamil Dictionary. Over the next few months, they worked together on developing this and decided to bring it out as a photographic field guide.
The result is ‘Paravaigal: Arimugakkaiyedu’ (Birds: Introductory field guide) released in January 2013 at the 36th Chennai Book Fair. This compact (10.5 cm X 14 cm) guide contains photographs and brief accounts of 88 common birds of Tamil Nadu, across habitats. The books carries 166 full-colour photographs of these birds taken in the field by famous wildlife photographers such as Ramki Sreenivasan, Radha Rangarajan, Kalyan Varma, Gnanaskandan K, Vijay Ramanathan, and many others. To aid in bird identification, photographs taken in different angles to clearly show plumage and posture of the bird are used in the book. Wherever necessary, differences between the sexes, plumage variation during breeding and non-breeding seasons, and different morphs of the same species, are also illustrated with photographs. Descriptions to help birders identify birds in the field are given in simple language. Tamil names of birds sometimes differ from region to region and the book mainly uses the names given by K. Ratnam, while mentioning any alternative common names. For each species, brief descriptions of habitat, ecology, and behaviour are also given.
This guide is produced for anyone who is fascinated by birds and wants to learn about birds. Besides the species accounts and photographs, there is a detailed introduction to the classification, nomenclature, and history of Indian ornithology. The book also lists various Indian research institutions, including those that offer courses on ornithology. To help birdwatchers who wish to know more, there is also a list of other field guides on Indian birds, tips on bird watching and bird identification using calls, plumage and nests. There are brief sections on bird migration, conservation, importance of birds, list of bird sanctuaries and links to Important Bird Areas (IBA’s) in Tamil Nadu and other Tamil bird books.