The Indian cormorant or Indian shag (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis) is a member of the cormorant family. It is found mainly along the inland waters of the Indian Subcontinent but extending west to Sind and east to Thailand and Cambodia. It is a gregarious species that can be easily distinguished from the similar sized little cormorant by its blue eye, small head with a sloping forehead and a long narrow bill ending in a hooked tip.
This cormorant fishes gregariously in inland rivers or large wetlands of peninsular India and northern part of Sri Lanka. It also occurs in estuaries and mangroves but not on the open coast. They breed very locally in mixed species breeding colonies.[They extend north-east to Assam and eastward into Thailand, Burma and Cambodia.
The breeding season is July to February but depends on rainfall and water conditions. In northern India, they breed from July to February and in Sri Lanka, between November and February. The nest is a platform of twigs placed in the forks of partially submerged trees or those growing on islands. The nests are placed in close proximity to those of other Indian cormorants, storks or waterbirds in dense colonies, often with several tiers of nests. The usual clutch is three to five eggs which are bluish green and with a chalky surface.The Indian cormorant makes short dives to capture fish and a group will often fish communally, forming a broad front to drive fish into a corner.
The little cormorant (Microcarbo niger) is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. Slightly smaller than the Indian cormorant it lacks a peaked head and has a shorter beak. It is widely distributed across the Indian Subcontinent and extends east to Java, where it is sometimes called the Javanese cormorant. It forages singly or sometimes in loose groups in lowland freshwater bodies, including small ponds, large lakes, streams and sometimes coastal estuaries. Like other cormorants, it is often found perched on a waterside rock with its wings spread out after coming out of the water. The entire body is black in the breeding season but the plumage is brownish, and the throat has a small whitish patch in the non-breeding season. These birds breed gregariously in trees, often joining other waterbirds at heronries.
The little cormorant is about 50 centimetres (20 in) long and only slightly smaller than the Indian cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis). The Indian cormorant has a narrower and longer bill which ends in a prominent hook tip, blue iris and a more pointed head profile. The breeding adult bird has a glistening all black plumage with some white spots and filoplumes on the face. There is also a short crest on the back of the head. The eyes, gular skin and face are dark. In the non-breeding bird or juvenile, the plumage is brownish and the bill and gular skin can appear more fleshy. The crest becomes inconspicuous and a small and well-marked white patch on the throat is sometimes visible. Towards the west of the Indus River valley, its range can overlap with vagrant pygmy cormorants (Microcarbo pygmaeus), which can be difficult to differentiate in the field and are sometimes even considered conspecific. The sexes are indistinguishable in the field, but males tend to be larger. Some abnormal silvery-grey plumages have been described.The species was described by Vieillot in 1817 as Hydrocorax niger. The genus Hydrocorax literally means water crow. It was later included with the other cormorants in the genus Phalacrocorax but some studies place the smaller "microcormorants" under the genus Microcarbo.
The purple heron (Ardea purpurea) is a wide ranging species of wading bird in the heron family, Ardeidae. The scientific name comes from Latin ardea "heron", and purpureus, "coloured purple". It breeds in Africa, central and southern Europe, and southern and eastern Asia. The Western Palearctic populations migrate between breeding and wintering habitats whereas the African and tropical-Asian populations are primarily sedentary, except for occasional dispersive movements.
It is similar in appearance to the more common grey heron but is slightly smaller, more slender and has darker plumage. It is also a more evasive bird, favouring densely vegetated habitats near water, particularly reed beds. It hunts for a range of prey including fish, rodents, frogs and insects, either stalking them or standing waiting in ambush.
Purple herons are colonial breeders and build a bulky nest out of dead reeds or sticks close to the water' edge among reeds or in dense vegetation. About five bluish-green eggs are laid and are incubated by both birds. The young hatch about four weeks later and fledge six weeks after that. The International Union for Conservation of Nature notes that the global population trend is downwards, largely because of the drainage of wetlands, but assesses the purple heron's conservation status as being of "least concern".