The Battle of Bird Brains

I witnessed a memorable battle while in Rajasthan. It was a battle between a parrot and a pigeon for a hole in a tree which both wanted as their home. The screeching squawks of the parrots drew my attention to what was happening high above in a tree.

The pigeon was all alone fending for itself. Once in a while it would peep out all puffed up and charged, but would soon withdraw back to the hole. It went on for around ten minutes and I stay put there clicking shots wondering who will win. Initially there was only one parrot and a pigeon crouched inside the hole. Within minutes of relentless squawking one more parrot joined in and then another.

Parrots and Pigeons both rank high in avian intelligence. In fact a study says the forebrain of parrots is relatively the same size as that of monkeys and great apes. By brain size, what is meant or rather more relevant is the ‘brain-body’ ratio. It is from that point of view the sentence: “Chimpanzee is as intelligent as a six year old” makes sense. Another interesting computer analogy given by Pepperberg (1999) when comparing mammalian and avian brains is; mammalian brains are like IBM-PCs, whereas avian brains are like Apple Macintoshes; the wiring and processing are different, but the resulting output (i.e. behavior) is similar. And just as the components of the hardware which function distinguishes the various computers, the regions of brains that function, distinguishes the intelligence of the various species. Studies have shown both pigeons and parrots are intelligent.

Before I deviate further let me return to the scene of battle field, the only live battle that I witnessed in Rajasthan. The climax was over in seconds, unfortunately I could not capture that in my lens. The pigeon flew out and I did try to trail it with my camera, downloading later I saw there was no flying pigeon but just branches and the sky. Turning back to the scene, I found the parrot proudly occupying its home.

Faces of India - 305 from Bikaner, Rajasthan
Faces of India - 304 from Kurseong, West Bengal

58 Responses to “The Battle of Bird Brains

  • I can't imagine seeing such lovely birds in my own trees! We have nothing like that here. I have said it before, but your blog shows the beautiful things your eyes have seen.

  • so it's a parrot who won….

  • poor pigeon. the parrots are wrapped in beautiful green, and when they're red, or blue or yellow, it's just as distinct. have a great weekend Indrani. hope u had a great vacation too.

  • Oh, and that parrot has such a pleased look on his/her face! What a hoot! I love it and how great that you could capture so much of it and great shots at that! A fun post, Indrani!

  • Like the humans, the birds too fight for their territories. The parrot is the happy victor in this case.

  • Great shots Indrani…
    I learned something here today as I wasn't aware of the brain capacity of birds. I guess I haven't considered it before.

    I do love to watch them when they visit my yard.

    best wishes

  • Oh they are so cute. Am glad they are free on the trees.

  • Once again a wonderful wonderful post. So informative and such beautiful shots!!

  • What nice pictures, and how nicely you have written about the 'battle'.

  • You were there at the right moment, Indrani! Nice shots and informative text. The parrot in these pictures is really simpatico!

  • This is amazing and the way you posted gives the feeling of watching "Discovery"

    Keep going…

  • Survival of the fittest … !!

    but really wonderful shots… !! bird shots with such a close up are wonderful !!!

  • amazing shots..when we go birding every weekend, its sights like these that get us fascinated ..not just an ID parade

  • What a refreshing post.

  • Beautiful sequence of snaps. The parrot in the last snap does look proud of its victory.

  • This is just a movie 😉
    How is it possible
    that the birds
    pose for your camera 😉
    If I try
    to take a picture of a bird
    he fly immediately away …. LOL
    It seems that you were invisible 😉

    These green birds
    are a loving couple 🙂
    The pigeon
    must go and as soon as possible !!
    And the green birds did it,
    poor pigeon 🙁

  • In the last one the parrot is so calm and deep in thoughts.

  • It's not often I say this, but poor pigeon! Mind you, the parrots are beautiful 🙂

  • …and I love that final shot!
    Being called a 'bird brain' takes on a whole different meaning. 🙂

    My post is here: Carletta’s Captures.

  • Wonderful shots and great commentary. The life of birds … wonderful!

  • beautiful and a good story

  • especialy the last picture is very nice, so you see, every one has his on talent, yours is making those beautifull pictures!!Have a nice day, best wishes from jeany

  • Amazing pictures!
    This parrot is so beautiful and I loved this post!
    purrs and noselicks

  • lovely pics…i somehow loved the post a lot more than i expected bcoz i hate pigeons!

  • Incredible images and a highly entertaining read! Kudos to you 🙂

  • you tell such a beautiful tale with lovely illustrations too!

  • A parrot and a pigeon ! what an unusual pair ! We don't have parrots flying free around, the poor things are all in cages.

  • That's incredible. That last shot.. she looks so smug!

  • Awesome shots!! Love the pictures, and the best part is you being able to witness and share something so unexpected and natural!
    Loved these pictures and the story too. I hope you also upload the pictures where you tried to trail the pigeon. I have noticed pigeons trying to bully other birds for bajra and water that I keep to attract them, never gave a thought to their intelligence!
    This was amazing!!

  • They are so cute and pictures are amazing

  • I love the post title.

    Beautiful shots. I especially liked the last one.

  • That's amazing!

  • A series of very beautiful shots!
    Parrots are very intelligent,and research indicate that they are able
    to distinguish many words…

  • you can't expect such scenes everywhere, but you were lucky to capture them.

  • Nice caption and narration, and it go well with the late battle front state. Clicking a bird is not easy, u have captured the battle is left to appreciation.

  • Great shots, Indrani! I love learning something new, so thanks for all the great info as well.

  • The poor pigeon. Outnumbered. I can relate to nothing in the pic..since u focussed on the tree it must have been in zoom mode so when it flew off u had no time to change settings n consequently got nothing in yr viewfinder.

  • Cute little story, figures the parrot had to use x muscle to get that hole away from pigie… darn parrot mafia!

  • Very interesting and the photos are great!

  • Nice pics especially the one in which both fighters r visible , intresting write up..

  • What an interesting territorial battle you witnessed. Thanks for sharing the photos.

  • He seems very proud indeed.

    I love how you have my rapt attention in this delicate yet strong battle!!

  • Oh..Reality Show! Nicely shot. Poor pigeon. It was alone but still fought!!

  • Oh, these small battles, just as distressing to the fighters as our large ones. At least birds don;t brood, at least in the same way people do. Great capture.

  • a bird with brains…this..

  • Such an interesting post, one of which I enjoyed reading very much. Also enjoyed these wonderful photos. Thank you!

  • I love your blog 🙂 Such a great story and the photographs, as ever, beautiful.


  • really nice pic… brilliant blog with great pics… hats off to the passion of your's for the photography…

  • You had the patience to capture the 'battle'. Amazing pictures.

  • I have seen parrots living at holes, but never a pigeon… Interesting facts on their intelligence and great capture on the battle.

  • I am shocked! Birds could fight for such things! That too parrot and pigeon! Reminded me of the famous story of the crow and cuckoo…

    Thanks a lot for the information on ‘brains’ and for the awesome photography!

  • Way to go Mr. Parrot! Funny that you were able to witness the whole exchange, seeing as how it all happened so quickly- and grab a photo, no less!

  • This is adorable. It’s also a great demonstration that sometimes taking the time to go slow and notice the world around you results in beautiful or interesting moments. Lovely pictures!

  • I always love seeing the wildlife in a new country. Poor pidgeon though!!

  • It is very interesting to observe animal behaviour. You’re lucky to spot such encounter!

  • The parrot is beautiful and how they coexist is interesting. Yet another strong reminder for me to know that we have to protect our environment and our mother earth so that these incredible creatures could have a nice place to live 🙂

  • The battle for territory is so classic amongst living beings This is a fascinating account that you were able to witness. I must say you were able to capture some of the action in your lens well. Rajasthan did offer you something different from what we normally associate with it

  • Haha thats too funny. Was it just the one pigeon at the end? What happened to the others?

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