Dr. Sálim Moizuddin Abdul Ali, (November 12, 1896 – July 27, 1987) was the pre-eminent ornithologist of India.
Known as the \”Birdman of India\”, Dr. Salim Moizuddin Abdul Ali\’s (or Dr. Salim Ali, as he is better known) name was synonymous with birds. To his many associates however, he was much more than that. A great visionary, he made birds a serious pursuit when it used to be a mere fun for the most. Orphaned at a very young age, Salim Ali was brought up by his maternal uncle, Amiruddin Tyabji. Uncle Amiruddin was a keen Shikari (Hunter) and nature-lover. Under his guidance young Salim learnt his first lessons in Shikar and became aware of the nature around him.
When Salim was ten years old, his uncle presented him with an air-gun. One day young Salim shot a sparrow which had a yellow streak below its neck. His uncle could not explain more about this sparrow and asked him to go to Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Mumbai. He went to BNHS, but, was apprehensive about going in and confronting with some strange English man (Honorary Secretary, W. S. Millard). He somehow found the courage and walked in through the door. That single incident changed his whole life and gave India it\’s best ornithologist. Millard identified the sparrow as the Yellow-Throated Sparrow, and showed him the Society\’s splendid collection of stuffed birds. Salim became interested in birds through this incident and wanted to pursue his career in ornithology.
Collage by Dr. Pradip Jain