Indian Roller or Neelkanth is a beautiful bird. It is seen here in the north india from summer and till winters. Usually one can spot the bird sitting on the transmission lines passing over the fields or on the top of trees like mangoes.
It sits at one place for a long periods of time. It swoops down to catch insects like beetles or grasshoppers. It is not easily scared when you take pictures.
The bird is about 26–27 cm long. It is similar in appearance to European rollers which are also here during summer. The difference is that breast is brownish and not blue as in the European Roller. The crown and vent are blue. The primaries are deep purplish blue with a band of pale blue. The tail is sky blue with a terminal band of Prussian blue and the central feathers are dull green. The neck and throat are purplish lilac with white shaft streaks. The bare patch around the eye is ochre in colour. The three forward toes are united at the base. Rollers have a long and compressed bill with a curved upper edge and a hooked tip. The nostril is long and exposed and there are long rictal bristles at the base of the bill.
The bird is associated with Lord Shiva in Hindu mythology and is considered to be a good omen if it is seen on Dusshehra or Diwali.
General morphology of a bird is given below
During my visits to the fields or open areas near my residence, I have come across this bird many times and have taken quite a few pictures.
In our younger days, I remember we often spotted the “Neel Kanth” as it is called in india. “Neel” means “blue” and “Kanth” means “throat”, in the agricultural fields here in Punjab. At that there were no electrical transmission lines crossing the fields. There were trees and there were fields. It was considered auspicious to see it because its name is connected to God Shiva whose throat also became blue to due drinking of the poison which threatened to destroy the world. It is the mythology part.
Nowadays it is very difficult to spot this bird. The possible reasons could be the decline in its population and its semi migratory habit. Some literature suggests the deforestation, grazing pastures and pollution.
I think during summers it shifts base to some other place because I have not spotted the bird during all the summer. Last year during February and March, I spotted it sitting across the dry wood trunks, poles and electric transmission lines during the wheat maturing season.
Neelkanth or the Indian Roller Bird (Coracias benghalensis), is a member of the roller family of birds. They are found widely across tropical Asia stretching from Iraq eastward across the Indian Subcontinent to Indochina and are best known for the aerobatic displays of the male during the breeding season. It sits patiently for quite long periods and then catches the insects etc and returns to the same spot. Once I saw it sitting on a big stone in a pasture. It will fly, catch its prey and revert back to that stone. These are some of its pictures.