About Aasheesh Pittie’s book of essays, The Living Air. If you’re looking for new ways to engage with birds and birdwatching, Aasheesh Pittie’s book of essays, The Living Air is a great place to start. This book will not only make you want to get out and observe your city and surroundings in a whole new light, but it will also offer a fresh perspective into what birdwatching is and the many ways you can benefit from it. Informative yet a joy to read, The Living Air is an excellent introduction to the transformative pleasures of birdwatching.

The Indian Pitta Books is India’s first dedicated book imprint for bird lovers, conservationists and policy makers.  

Featured Image: Prashast Pittie


Aasheesh Pittie is the editor of the ornithological journal Indian BIRDS. He has been the engine behind books such as Birds in Books: Three Hundred Years of South Asian Ornithology (2010), and The Written Bird: Birds in Books 2 (2022).Aasheesh has also compiled a searchable bibliographic database of over 35,000 works on South Asian ornithology (southasiaornith.in). 


  1. For those who haven’t read it, what are the themes in your book
  2. Your book begins with the Jerdon’s Courser and the Great Indian Bustard.  You are lucky to have seen them.  Can you describe this? 
  3. Your book encourages absorption in bird watching.  Were you always this way? What was your evolution as a bird watcher?
  4. I loved your chapter, “My kind of birding.”  That paragraph about the art of becoming invisible….”  Please describe your kind of birding, your thoughts on cultivation of patience and its rewards. What are the rewards? And how can you cultivate this mindset.
  5.   Dabchicks. How can they absorb you for hours? How can you teach this.  ‘Disappearing Dabchicks’. It describes his visit to a local pond, where Aasheesh became entranced by these gloriously ball-like waterbirds and before he knew it, the ‘sun was balanced on the horizon … the disporting Dabchicks had engrossed me for three hours’.
  6. In your chapter on the bouquet of Benishaan, you write that “the character of a place, its ambience, takes on the sheen of the temporal moods and perceptions of the observer.” Please elaborate.  The context is that many of the places you describe are in South India, but since our audience is global, wanted some takeaways for them as well.  So if you live in a particular place, be in Northern Europe or South America, how can you approach birding in the Aasheesh Pittie way.
  7. Tell us about your methodical and elaborate list process- now available on ebird.  But please describe how you kept notes and the value of those notes?
  8. What was your writing process for this book? And how do you know so many specific but unusual words? “but remaining with it through the quiddity of its habitat…”
  9. What is your birding routine?
  10. What issues absorb you these days?
  11. What are your favourite species of birds?

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