Why Grandala, the Blue Gem of the Himalayas is special?

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Have you ever seen a bird that is so blue, it almost hurts your eyes? If you have, you might have encountered the grandala, a species of bird in the thrush family that lives in the Himalayan mountains. The grandala is a remarkable bird that has fascinated birdwatchers and naturalists for centuries. Here are some facts about this flying blue gem of the Himalayas.

  • Appearance: The grandala is a medium-sized bird, measuring 20.5-23 cm in length and weighing 38-52 g. The male has a striking blue-gray plumage, with black wings and tail. The female is brownish with white streaks on the head and underparts, and a gray-blue rump. The young birds are similar to the females, but lack the bluish tint on the rump. The grandala has a long bill and sharp wings, giving it a starling-like profile.
  • Behavior: The grandala is a social bird that often forms large flocks, especially in winter. It is an arboreal insectivore, meaning it feeds on insects and other invertebrates in the trees. It also eats fruits and berries, and sometimes visits flowers for nectar. The grandala is a vocal bird, making sounds like “dew-ee” and “dewee”. It breeds from April to July, building a cup-shaped nest of moss and grass on a tree branch. The female lays 3-4 eggs, which are incubated by both parents. The chicks fledge after about 15 days.
  • Diet and Nutrition: The grandala feeds mainly on insects, such as beetles, caterpillars, moths, and flies. It also eats spiders, snails, and worms. It supplements its diet with fruits and berries, such as juniper, cotoneaster, and barberry. It sometimes visits flowers for nectar, such as rhododendron and primrose. The grandala forages in the canopy and mid-levels of the forest, often in mixed-species flocks with other birds.
  • Distribution: The grandala lives in a vast territory across the northeastern Indian Subcontinent and some adjoining regions. It is found in the low-to-mid altitudes of the Himalayas, from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh in India, and also in Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Tibet, and China. It prefers coniferous and mixed forests, especially with juniper and rhododendron. It is a resident bird in most of its range, but some populations may migrate to lower altitudes or southward in winter.

The grandala is a beautiful and fascinating bird that deserves more attention and conservation. It is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List, but it may face threats from habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation due to human activities. If you ever visit the Himalayas, keep an eye out for this blue wonder of nature. You will not regret it.

image credits
By jenis patel – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61481932

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