Salim Ali - The Best Friend Of Birds


A bird shot during his school days was that particular incident that attracted Salim Ali’s attention towards birds. He was born in 1896 November 12 in Khethadi village of Mumbai. He lost his parents at an early age and he was brought up by his uncle.


It was a time when British ruled India and their favourite hobby was bird and animal hunting. Salim’s uncle was also an excellent hunter and from early childhood, Salim Ali dreamt of becoming a hunter. When he was 10, he got an air gun from his uncle. Hunting small birds became his favourite hobby and those birds were used for dinner too.


Once a strange incident took place in his life that proved to be the turning point of his life. Once he saw a bird next in his shed with a pair of birds and a few eggs. He shot the male bird. Very soon the female found another companion. Salim shot that male bird again and the female found another one. This process was repeated till 8 male birds were killed the same day and young Salim was surprised to see the female waiting for another male. He was very religious and when he found that those dead birds have yellow rings around their necks, he asked his uncle, if they can eat those birds or not. His uncle sent him to a British named Milliard who was a member of Bombay Natural History society.


Milliard told him that that particular bird’s name is Yellow throated sparrow and took him to his experiment room. He made Ali acquainted with a lot of species of birds, thus opening doors to one among the most famous ornithologists world has ever witnessed. It was that particular moment when a bird lover was born inside Ali’s mind for the first time.


Though he joined St. Savior’s College at Mumbai, he dropped his studies and went to Myan Myar for a job. There was a forest area near his residence and he restarted his bird observation there. Very soon he returned back to Mumbai and studied biology. He did job as a guide in Mumbai Natural History Society. He later went to Germany to study about birds and when he returned back, he lost his job.


He happened to watch the nest building process of a weaver bird near his residence and with patience he began to observe its activities for a long time. He published his observations and he became a known face thereafter. Like a nomad, he travelled the whole India to collect details about birds. He proved that Finsbaya birds have not disappeared. His contributions to bird lovers are really huge. He has published numerous books in this subject. The book of Indian birds and Birds of Kerala are only a few among his huge works.    

Article Posted By : Sandhya RanilView All Articles

I love birds, green and nature a lot.

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Indian ornithologist , Salim Ali


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