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Man in Red

Red Avadavat, Coorg

Our songs have always immortalised the ‘Lady in Red’, but in the animal kingdom, it’s the Lad in Red who never goes to an empty bed. Nowhere is it more true than in the hills and dales of Coorg, where a little male bird has captured a disproportionate share of female attention. It’s said that a male Red Avadavat in a romantic mood is a sight for the Gods, especially when a ray of sunlight catches him in its beam, resplendent in his incredibly bright plumage that transforms from a dull brown to a vibrant red, as he soaks in the adulation of the lasses, much like the Hindu God – Krishna, amidst his admiring Gopis (female shepherds). As if this weren’t enough, he turns on the charm offensive by holding a blade of grass or feather in his mouth, bowing deeply to the ladies (guaranteed to work with two-legged birds too) and pirouettes and dances for them. To make it a triple whammy, much like Lord Krishna, he uses the seductive strains of music to charm his way into women’s hearts. And what a song it is! An ecstatic, tinkling, thin, sustained warbling, that starts high and rather hesitant, and then tumbles forth in airy descent, cascading over rapid trills, slurred clear notes and the odd squeaky chortle. While the whole courtship ritual is flirtatious, the male is loyal to the one he finally chooses, and the couple is monogamous for the entire breeding season. The Red Avadavat is named after the city of Ahmedabad in India, from where these birds were exported into the pet trade in days bygone, and it isn’t hard to imagine our hero being the soul of Gujarat’s Dandiya Raas, a folk dance celebrating the Raas Lila of the amorous Krishna cavorting with his Gopis.



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