Indian Pitta

The Indian Pitta (Pitta brachyura) is a species of passerine bird that is found mainly in the sub-Himalayas. It is migratory and winters in southern India and Sri Lanka. It is not often found in drier parts of the country. Its breeding habitat is the foothills of the Himalayas from Islamabad to Central Nepal and in Central and Western India. Some records of breeding are noted from as far south as the Goa region. The name Pitta comes from the Telugu word meaning “small bird”.

This bird is small and stocky. It has long, strong legs, a short tail and stout bill. It has beige and black crown stripes, a thick black eye stripe, and a white throat and neck. The upperparts are green and the underparts are beige. The tail is blue, and the lower belly and vent are bright red.

The diet of the Indian Pitta consists mostly of insects that it forages for in leaf litter. It is normally found on the ground, but it roosts in trees. It is usually heard more often than seen and has a unique two-note whistle wheeet-tieu or wieet-pyou or sometimes, a triple note hh-wit-wiyu. This bird is commonly called the “Six-O-Clock” bird as it has a habit of calling out once or twice at dawn and then again at dusk. When it calls out it throws its head back and it bill is pointed upwards.

The breeding season takes place during the Southwest Monsoon (June to August). The nest is a globular structure with a circular opening on one side. The nest is made of leaves and grasses and are built on the ground or in low branches. The female lays 4 to 5 white spherical eggs that are spotted maroon and purple. The eggs are very glossy.

Avian malaria parasites have been noted in the species.

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