Today, the 12th of November, marks the birth anniversary of Dr. Salim Ali, arguably the most famous and influential ornithologist that India has produced. I owe my interest in bird-watching to Dr. Ali, as I am sure many other bird-watchers in India would, as well.
His pioneering ‘The Book of Indian Birds‘ was possibly the first book on Indian birds that I read (multiple times). In fact, I still have a copy of this book (the thirteenth edition) that serves as my primary reference book on Indian birds.
I then read his autobiography, ‘The Fall of a Sparrow‘, which I found quite fascinating as a young boy. This led me to the Bombay Natural History Society, of which he was a key member and helped raise funds for its survival. I am now a life member of this esteemed organisation.
Dr. Salim Ali died in 1987, and if memory serves me right, this made the front page of The Times of India the next day. I still remember reading his obituary in the newspaper.
For people who are not familiar with the life and work of this renowned ornithologist, this article in the Deccan Herald can serve as a good introduction.