Birds You Can See From Your Balcony

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to go very far to enjoy nature. Here’s how a visit to a local park or a look outside your bedroom window can reveal some of the most beautiful birds!

You don’t have to go too far to enjoy nature – all you need is some greenery around you, a pair of binoculars, and an early morning. 

Here’s a video highlighting the many different kinds of birds you could see from your balcony! (Video Courtesy: Journeys Explore - YouTube)

Urban birds form a vital part of the urban ecosystem. Scavenging birds like crows, black kites and mynahs feed on waste and resort to nooks and crannies of buildings for shelter and nesting spaces. So walk into your closest park, look at the trees near your building, and see if you can spot some of these lovely little creatures that make up a part of our urban landscape.

1. Rose-ringed Parakeet:

(Psittacula krameri)

Spotted practically all over India, these parakeets can often be seen in flocks. The males sport a jaunty black and rose collar around the neck. The females and the young ones do not have these rings but may have a shadowy grey one instead. Their diet comprises a variety of fruits, berries, buds, and seeds.

2. Greater Coucal:

(Centropus sinensis)

Seen right from 6000 feet in the Himalayas, all the way down to the south of the country, the greater coucal or crow pheasant is actually a non-parasitic member of the cuckoo family. This glossy black bird with glowing chestnut wings and ruby red eyes elicits squeals of delight from young children all over. Often seen hopping on the ground or climbing branches of trees, the crow pheasant feeds on caterpillars, insects, young mice, lizards and birds’ eggs.

3. Red-vented Bulbul:

(Pycnonotus cafer)

This is another bird seen all over the Indian subcontinent. It has eight subspecies and can be easily recognised with its slightly comical, squarish-looking head. The energetic little bulbul has a smoky-brown body with a scaly pattern, a dark or black head, a white-tipped tail, and a prominent patch at the base of the tail. Its diet mainly comprises of insects, fruits, berries and nectar.

4. Indian White-eye:

(Zosterops palpebrosus)

Formerly known as the Oriental White-Eye, this tiny songbird inhabits woody areas and gardens throughout the country. White-eyes are sparrow-sized with their upper parts coloured yellowish-green and a yellow throat. As the name suggests, they can be easily identified by the white ring around the eye. Highly energetic, these birds feed on nectar and tiny insects on flowers.

5. Purple Sunbirds:

(Cinnyris asiaticus)

Widely scattered throughout the Indian subcontinent, these distinct little birds provide glossy flashes of colour to our gardens during the breeding season. The males in breeding plumage have a glossy, metallic, bluish to purplish-black colouring while the females and non-breeding males have yellow underparts with wings looking dark brown. Their curved beaks are highly adapted to feed on nectar with berries, and small insects making up the rest of their diets.

6. Black Drongo:

(Dicrurus macrocercus)

This bird, with its distinctively long-forked tail, is commonly seen perching on power lines across the Indian subcontinent. Its aggressive behaviour towards other, much larger birds has earned it the nickname of King Crow. Adult black drongos are glossy black with a small white spot near the base of their beaks (gape). Juveniles tend to have white barred feathers on their bellies and vents. They primarily feed on grasshoppers, dragonflies, and other insects.

7. Indian Myna:

(Acridotheres tristis)

You’ll find this easily identified bird pretty much wherever there are settlements of people in India. Its bright yellow legs, brown body and black head are a common sight in cities. Indian mynas band together in pairs or flocks and have a varied diet comprising of seeds, grains, fruits, insects, reptiles and small mammals along with food waste discarded by humans.

8. House Sparrow:

(Passer domesticus)

Although included in this list, if you have house sparrows in your surroundings, you may consider yourself extremely lucky. This little bird needs no introduction but has sadly disappeared from many locations across the country, causing much concern. A loss of nesting places and food sources, and competition from pigeons are some reasons behind their decline. 

Males can be easily distinguished from the females by the black patches around the bill and throat and vivid reddish-brown colour. These birds are opportunistic feeders and eat grains along with insects like aphids and beetles. Installing bird feeders, birdbaths, and nest boxes are all ways to help the sparrows in your neighbourhood survive.

If you enjoy your time out birding, you could also take part in the annual Indian Bird Count held in February every year -- and don’t forget to let me know what birds you see around your home in the comments section below!

Uma Athale

Uma Athale

Jeevoka member since Sep 2019

With a Master’s degree in Wildlife Conservation and Management from the University of Reading, England, I have worked with wildlife in various capacities in India and abroad, including invasive species management, species reintroduction, rehabilitation, and human-animal conflict mitigation, among others. I am also a co-author of There’s Many a Way to Keep the Elephant Away: a manual discussing various methods of human-elephant conflict mitigation published by Project Elephant.