Asian Fairy Bluebird    Irena puella

Etymology :

  • Irena : Greek mythology Goddess of peace and plenty.
  • Puella : Latin word for Girl, Maiden

Vernacular Names : Hindi: Lalita, Sans: Lalit neel khag, Cachar: Dao gatang, Mar: Lalita, Nilpari, Ta: Pana-kara-kuruvi, Mal: Lalita

Distribution in India: Resident of Himalayan foothills and Hills of North East, East and South India

Description: Size of 22-25 cm. Adult male nominate race has frontal band over bill base, conjoined lores and side of head to well above eye, side of neck, entire underparts (except under tail-coverts), wings (apart from lesser and median wing-coverts) and tail deep black; remaining plumage, including tips of tertials, brilliant blue, “enamel-glossed” especially on cap and upperparts by modified outer barbs; hidden bases of these blue feathers variably (non-glossed) verditer-green to, on upper neck, black; some individuals have black or grey shaft streaks on body and/or upper wing-coverts; iris bright blood-red; bill all black; feet black. Adult female (some with dark shaft streaks, as male) has head, body and upper wing-coverts, tertials and central tail feathers subdued verditer-green, feather edging slightly bluer on rump, upper tail-coverts and underparts; remaining plumage sooty brown, verditer only on outer webs of other tail feathers and on external edging of flight-feathers; iris paler, brick-red or orange-red.

Habitat: It is found in tall tropical to subtropical lowland broadleaf evergreen to semi-evergreen forest, and comparable montane forest.

Food Habits: Its eats fruit, ranging from small berries to figs ; also nectar in more seasonal parts of range. The chicks thrive on a diet exclusively of live insects delivered independently by parents, with fruit offered mainly after fledging. Fruits taken while perched or in a flying snatch, mainly in middle stratum and canopy of forest; termites caught in air. Regularly joins mixed-species parties of insectivores hunting among foliage. Raids coffee berries.

Breeding Habits:  They breed in Jan-June in India. Nest is built by female. It is a relatively small, unusually shallow, flimsy open cup of twigs and bryophytes, placed on sapling fork or palm frond in shaded understorey to lower middle stratum of forest. It lays a clutch of 2 eggs. The incubation is done by female alone for a period of 14 days. The nestlings tended by one or both parents. The fledging period is 13 days.