The Bird in your Backyard: Brahminy Kite

January 15, 2014

As we step into the beginning of yet another year, and take stock of the conservation efforts both by the public and private sector during the last year, we wish to inform all wildlife enthusiasts that all is not lost in terms of safeguarding and protecting biodiversity and wildlife in India. The conservation efforts are slowly paying but a lot more needs to be done in the coming years. However, when it comes to the conservation efforts in the state of Karnataka, the situation is changing for the worse; due to tremendous pressure exerted on the land towards urbanization and Industrialization. This has resulted in the degradation of natural resources and loss of wildlife habitats. More importantly, there's been a steep decline in common back yard birds because of habitat loss and fragmentation.

In this article we thought it appropriate to highlight a few vital aspects on Sacred Groves which will enable school children as well as college students to connect more intensely with nature and also contribute more efficiently in terms of conservation strategies. Our objective in writing this article is to stimulate the imagination of youngsters on a simple theme namely " Commercial Truth Vs Sacred Truth ".

Sacred Groves are patches of forests protected by local communities who usually dedicate the forest to a local deity. Sacred Groves are ancient groves that are deeply respected by the local communities because of their religious beliefs and traditional rituals that run through several generations. We request people from all walks of life to visit one or the other sacred grove just to understand the wisdom of the locals in protecting their forest wealth without any written rules.
In India approximately 13, 700 sacred groves are recorded from 19 States. From Karnataka, Sacred Groves have been reported from the Districts of Kodagu, Dakshina Kannada, Shimoga, Uttara Kannada, and Udupi. These local sacred groves are untouched habitats famous for harboring many threatened, endangered and rare herbs, shrubs of medicinal importance and also wildlife. Depending on the place of origin, they are called Devara Kadu, Nagabana, Bhoota Bana, Pavithra Vana. They may be called Devrai in Maharashtra, Kavu in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Sarnas in Bihar and Oraans in Rajasthan.

Every village or a few villages put together allocated a small tract of land exclusively for the propagation of the native forests. long-established, with special emphasis on people's participation and community linked decisions binding on the entire community irrespective of hierarchy comprised of one of the oldest forms of forest conservation. The Tribal chieftains or Village heads had tremendous insights on the functioning of the entire forest ecosystem so much so that they realized that a small man made disturbance in one part of the forest would result in the breakdown of the entire biotic community which in turn would affect their very own livelihoods. Hence these men of wisdom and integrity with their council of ministers paid undivided attention in formulating a vision in conservation of biodiversity, Rain water harvesting and protecting wildlife.

Villagers looking after a sacred grove will reveal that the forest is very sacred and many of the unwritten rules are followed by one and all in letter and in spirit. It is deeply engrained in the minds of people that the well being of the forest has a direct influence on the prosperity of the entire community taking care of the sacred groves. Destruction of the forest or robbing the forest of its wealth will bring about a curse not only to the family but will endanger the entire community in terms of natural calamities, failure of crops and high levels of pests and diseases. Each sacred forest has its own set of rules; some prohibit any human interference while others allow for the collection of leaf litter as fuel.

While sacred groves are found all over the State, for instance, Bidirammana gudi (Tiptur), Salumaradamma (Tarikere), Hongelakshmi (Tumkur), Kadamba (dynasty of Mayuravarma who ruled Kodagu), the Kodagu district is special because it has a devara kadu in every village. Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts have naga banas in most villages. Every village in the district has at least one devara kadu. The tradition of tree worship has its roots in the Vedas, where the ficus tree has been described as housing the fertility spirits of the mythical gandharvas and apsaras. It is not that these types of sacred forests are present only in India. Similar forests exist in Africa, parts of Asia, America, Australia and Europe.

We have posted a few pictures of the Brahminy Kite that is a very commonly observed in and around Mangalore. The Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus), also known as the Red-backed Sea-eagle, is a medium-sized bird of prey , which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards and harriers. They are found primarily in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia.

It is believed that the name Brahminy results from their association with the Indian God Vishnu. To the Iban of Malaysia it is the bird God of war. The Brahminy Kite's presence is an omen to guide them in major decisions such as warfare and house building.
It is relatively easy to photograph these birds at close quarters with an inexpensive camera because they are very tolerant to humans. The Mangalorean community is very fortunate to have large numbers of these birds in and around Mangalore.

There is still a debate regarding the Brahminy kite as to whether it is a bird of prey or more of a scavenger? To be honest we do not have the answer yet !  We do hope you find the pictures entertaining and will take time out to learn more about the bird's behavior.

One last thought...Is Commercial truth giving way to Sacred truth in all spheres of life?


Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira - Archives



By Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira
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Comment on this article

  • venkatramanshenoy, mangalore

    Wed, Feb 05 2014

    Wow, what a great snaps of such a rare, wonderful bird, dear anand m very much impressed by ur article , i have no words to say it is very amazing ver gud anand

  • Joe Britto, Nakre/Bangalore

    Sat, Jan 25 2014

    Dear Dr.Anand & Geetha,

    Yet another superb collection of Nature at it's best.

    Thanks and the very best to you

    Joe Britto
    Indo Bloom Ltd

  • Devinder Sharma, NEW DELHI

    Thu, Jan 23 2014

    Thank you Dr Pereira. Your latest post about sacred groves and the beautiful pictures of the bird came as a whiff of fresh air. I am sharing it on my twitter and facebook accounts

  • Ranju, Bangalore

    Wed, Jan 22 2014

    Great article. Thanks .
    1) Please share , if you know any google plus pages , google groups, , any online groups or fb or websites on Sacred groves.

  • Suleman, Udupi

    Wed, Jan 22 2014

    Very nice pictures with integrated article.

  • Mohan Frank, Mangalore/ Mumbai

    Tue, Jan 21 2014

    Dr. ATP & Geeta,
    Lovely informative and educative article with live photograhs wherein we can identify the bird almost instantly.Yes I remember seeing it in our younger days.
    Thank you for the history that is attached to it which you have explained in detail.
    Iam sure the present generation will read your article and benefit from the same.
    Please enlighten us more by publishing more informative articles on other type of birds too

  • Dr. Edward Nazareth, Mangalore

    Mon, Jan 20 2014

    Nice article with useful information.

  • Sumathi, SAKLESHPUR

    Sat, Jan 18 2014

    Very beautiful pictures

  • valerine baretto , Bangalore

    Sat, Jan 18 2014

    Beautiful snaps Anand and Geetha. Amazing it is.

  • Dr. Jonathan Bujak, U.K.

    Sat, Jan 18 2014

    Dear Anand and Geeta,

    Your photographs are beautiful and the article is very educational. I wish that more parts of the world had sacred groves.

  • Liza Gina Pais, Brisbane

    Sat, Jan 18 2014

    Dear Uncle Anand.

    Very intresting article & very rare pictures.

    Thank You.

    Liza Gina Pais (Brisbane)

  • Leander Pais, Brisbane

    Sat, Jan 18 2014

    Dear Uncle Anand.

    Thank you for the wonderfull article.

    Regards-Leander Pais(Brisbane)

  • Jagannath. B.A., SAKLESHPUR

    Sat, Jan 18 2014

    Awesome. Thanx for d great new year gift in your fotos

  • Leona Pais, Brisbane

    Sat, Jan 18 2014

    Dear Dr Anand-Excellent article & poctures,Thank you.

    Regards-Leona Pais(Brisbane)

  • Allen Pais, Brisbane

    Sat, Jan 18 2014

    Dr Anand-Excellent capture,really appreciate your good work.

    Thanks for the lovely article.

    Regards-Allen Pais(Brisbane)

  • Queeni Lasrado, Bejai/Mangalore

    Fri, Jan 17 2014

    Indeed a nice and inspiring article. liked devara kadu concept of coorg as i love nature. I also extend my gratitude for your words of support and encouragement in my works.


    Fri, Jan 17 2014


  • Chandran, Chennai

    Fri, Jan 17 2014


  • Raymond, Dallas, u.s.a.

    Fri, Jan 17 2014

    Dear Anand, & Geeta,

    This is too good for words.
    Sorry to say that lots of us
    take Nature, & Wild life for granted.

    I have sent this to many of my friends
    as a forward so that they could send it
    to their friends and spread the word.

  • J M Bhandary, Mangalore/USA

    Fri, Jan 17 2014

    Another wonderful article on Nature and wildlife by Dr Anand and Geeta. Enjoyed the pictures and the background information as well as the message on the importance of conservation. In my childhood days, growing up in the villages around Mangalore, we used to have Nagabanas among our agricultural fields and on certain occasions we used to leave milk at the Naga stones for the serpents to drink Naga (cobra) occupying a sacred spot in the Hindu mythology. Regardless of the science behind it, it was a great nature conservation custom. Hope modern methods of replacing such customs to attain the same goals take place. One example would be mandatory open space and park requirements for any municipality another would be restricted on cutting ancient trees, another would be laws against using wetlands...The authors, with their series of articles and pictures are a source of inspiration for nature lovers.

  • sujaya, brahmagiri, udupi

    Thu, Jan 16 2014

    For all the readers who have not seen this bird must come to Brahmagiri especially inside Sai Radha Pride.We are fortunate to see them fly around all through the day and even comes to the ground searching and picking food


    Thu, Jan 16 2014

    Enjoyed reading the article. Nice pictures.

  • Rasquinha, Winster, Canada

    Thu, Jan 16 2014

    Very beautiful bird, but I don’t believe I’ve seen it ever. Thank you Anand and Geeta for your excellent endeavor in exposing to us the magnificence of God’s creation.

  • JOSEPH. R, Baharain

    Thu, Jan 16 2014

    Dear Anand, Good Photos, but I have not come across these birds anywhere around.
    good catch. All the best.

  • Rems, Qatar

    Thu, Jan 16 2014

    Beautiful article on a beautiful bird. Interesting to know about sacred groves and how they have actually contributed in protecting the nature.

  • ad, mangloor

    Thu, Jan 16 2014

    In a way,conserving forests is conserving species within it. This bird, pakkisalo (kind of eagle) once roamed in villages with thick forests, now hardly can be seen. Is it evolving nature? Or just human abuse of our habitats
    with birds and animals alike.
    A wonderful write-up.

  • Nihal Joseph, Mangalore

    Wed, Jan 15 2014

    We had a project on sacred Groves and their importance to the local community. Thank you for enlightening us on the many different aspects of the Brahminy Kites behavior.

  • Naveen Frank, Mangaore/Sharjah

    Wed, Jan 15 2014

    Dear Anand and Geetha,
    Once again, a well written , multi-faceted , apt and informative article from both of you. The information on the Sacred groves made very interesting reading. I recall we used to visit a similar Sacred Grove in your own Kirehally Estate in the Kelabail area where your father , the late Joe Pereira retained the temple and the adjacent area out of respect for the sentiments of the local Hindu population. It now makes greater sense after reading your article.
    Also, the information on the Brahminy Kite was also educative to me. So very often we fail to see the beauty of nature that is at our back door. As little children, we used to call this bird as PAKKISALO.
    Your message of conservation should go a long way into the hearts and minds of students and all those who are conscious of a deeper need to protect our dwindling environment. Thank you Daijiworld for publishing this beautiful write up.

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