Kerala

Kerala Laughing Thrush Trochalopteron fairbanki ©Aseem Kumar Kothiala Website
Birding Kerala

Sandwiched between the lofty green-shrouded Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea lies Kerala, the quiet mystic – Gods Own Country. Kerala is well endowed with avifauna as nearly 500 species of resident and migratory birds abound in this area. Lush green tropical forests, numerous freshwater and brackish lakes and waterlogged paddy fields form the major birding habitats of this region. Since the time when Prof:K.K.Neelakantan first mesmerised a wide audience with his entertaining books in Malayalam; birdwatching has caught the public imagination. Kerala is both literally and metaphorically lush! Out of the sticky heat it feels as if the plants are growing as you watch and you will not be disappointed with the birds.The new Kerala mailing list is the result of growing interest in birding and provides a digital habitat for birders of Kerala.

Top Sites
  • Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

    Satellite View
    Kumarakom is a large backwater lagoon. While moving around the lagoon, you are likely to see White-breasted Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Small Blue Kingfisher, Little Cormorant, White-breasted Waterhen, Black Bittern, Chestnut Bitten, Little Egret, Cattle Egret and Median Egrets. You may also see Great Cormorants, Open-billed Storks, Grey Herons, Yellow Bitterns, White Ibis, Cotton Teal, Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Koras, Black-caped Kingfishers, Ruddy Crakes, Gull-billed Terns and Shikras.
  • Periyar Tiger Reserve

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Parambikulam - Periyar is well located as a centre for seeing most of these ornithological specialties of the Western Ghats, as well as large numbers of other resident hill species and migrants. It is also one of the best-managed Tiger Reserves in the country and is home to large herds of elephants, bison, bears, leopards and tigers. Its attraction for birdwatchers is enhanced by the proximity of low-lying plains on three sides. There is considerable local migration of lowland species, often in the drier weather, up into the foothills, and several interesting examples of ecological counterparts in pairs of wet zone and dry zone species can be found, e.g. the Barbets. This is particularly noticeable at Thekkady, conveniently sited near the top of a steep 450m/1500ft ghat above the dry Tamil Nadu plain. In deciduous forest around Thekkady the commonest species in mixed foraging flocks are, in descending order Racket-tailed Drongo, Scarlet Minivet, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Bronzed Drongo, Grey Tit, Golden-backed Woodpeckers, White-bellied Treepie, Jungle Babbler, Indian Rufus Treepie, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Large Wood Shrike, Ashy Drongo, Small Minivet, Gold-fronted Leafbird, Small Green Barbet and a variety of Flowerpeckers. Other common birds include Orioles, Fairy Bluebird, Leaf Warbler, Flycatchers and Quaker Babbler. Almost all species recorded in the sanctuary can be seen at one time or another in the Tourist Zone, although it is necessary to climb to the grassy hilltops find some, such as Brown Pipit and Pied Bush Chat.
  • Silent Valley National Park

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Silent Valley National Park is a unique preserve of natural rainforests. Within an area of 237. 52 Sq.km, it houses a rich mosaic of varied habitats. Out of these springs the amazing variety of life forms some of them endemic to the Western Ghats.
  • Thattekkad

    WebsiteSatellite View
    If one makes a birding trip to Kerala try not to miss out on Thattekkad - the only tropical bird sanctuary in India. Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, also known as Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, is 12 km NE of Kothamangalam in Ernakulam District, Kerala state, about 50 km east of Kochi. This is the prime birding destination in South India. Specialties here include Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl, Ceylon Frogmouth, Red Spurfowl, Bay Owl, Rufous Babbler, Blue-faced Malkoha, Brown-breasted, White-bellied Blue-tailed and Rusty-tailed Flycatchers, Grey-headed Bulbul and Wynad Laughing Thrush. Moreover, Thattekkad is ideal for seeing a good number of the 16 endemics of the Western Ghats. The more difficult birds are Wynad Laughing Thrush and Grey-headed Bulbul. Proceed to Orullathany, at one end of the reserve, for the Bulbul and Laughing Thrush. Also visit Edamalayar Power Plant land and the South side of the river for the owls, Streak-throated Woodpecker and Yellow-billed Babbler. Other notable species likely to be seen within the Reserve are Red Spurfowl, Ceylon Frogmouth, Blue-faced Malkoha, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-bellied and Heart-spotted Woodpeckers, Rufous Babbler, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, White-bellied Treepie and Black-throated Munia.
  • Thrissur Kole Wetlands

    InformationSatellite View
    Kole Wetlands are a winter wildfowl area of international importance. The Kol lands (marshlands & open paddy fields) surrounding the town of Thrissur and are famed for birding. The traditional farming lands of Central Kerala grow rice, coconuts and other spices. Here Red Avadavat, Streaked Weaver, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Malabar Lark, abound as do many water birds.
  • Wayanad Wildlife Santuary

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Established in 1973, the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is contiguous to the protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka on the northeast and Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu on the southeast. Rich in bio diversity, the sanctuary is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve , which has been established with the specific objective of conserving the biological heritage of the region. The sanctuary is rich in flora and fauna. The management lays emphasis on scientific conservation with due consideration for the general lifestyle of the tribals and others who live in and around the forest. Elephant, spotted deer. Bison, tiger, cheetah, wild bear etc. can be spotted here. Elephant rides are arranged by the Forest department.
Contributors
  • Praveen Jayadevan

    | painted_stork@yahoo.com

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 516

    (As at October 2018)

    State Bird: Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis

Endemics
  • Number of endemics: 16 - 33Western Ghats Endemics

    Authorities agree that there are at least 16 species of bird endemic to the Western Ghats, they are:

    Nilgiri Woodpigeon Columba elphinstonii , Malabar Parakeet Psittacula columboides , Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus, White-bellied Treepie Dendrocitta leucogastra , Grey-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus priocephalus ,Broad-tailed Grassbird Schoenicola platyurus, Rufous Babbler Turdoides subrufa, Wayanad Laughing thrush Garrulax delesserti, Nilgiri Laughing thrush- black chinned Garrulax cachinnans, Kerala laughing thrushGarrulax fairbanki, Black-and-rufous Flycatcher Ficedula nigrorufa, Nilgiri Flycatcher Eumyias albicaudatus, White-bellied Blue-flycatcher Cyornis pallipes , Crimson-backed Sunbird Nectarinia minima, Nilgiri Pipit Anthus nilghiriensis, Nilgiri thrush Zoothera neilgherriensis.

    There are a further seventeen species, some recent 'splits' that some authorities also believe to be endemic to the Western Ghats, these are:

    Orange minivet Pericrocotus flammeus, Squire tailed Bulbul Hypsipetes ganeesa, Malabar Barbet Megalaima malabarica, White cheeked barbet Megalaima virids , Malabar wood shrike Tephrodornis sylvicola, Hill Swallow Hirundo domicola, Malabar lark Galerida malabarica, Flame throated Bulbul Pycnonotus gularis, Yellow throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus, Yellow Browed Bulbul Acrytillas indica, Dark fronted Babbler Rhopocichla atriceps, Lesser Hill Mynah Gracula indica, Malabar Whistling Thrush Myophonus horsfieldii, Nilgiri Blue Robin White bellied short wing Myiomela major, White Bellied Blue Robin Myiomela albiventris, Nilgiri flower pecker Dicaeum concolor

    The majority of the above can be found in Kerala State.

Checklist

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • * Field Guides & Bird Song

    For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering India as a whole - please see the main India page of Fatbirder ISBN: Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Backyard Birds of South India

    By FXJ Pereira | Other India Press | 2006 | Paperback | 84 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 8185569711 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Bird Sounds of Goa and South India

    By Hannu Jannes | WildSounds | 2002 | Audio CD | ISBN: #156613 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Kerala: Status and Distribution

    By C Sashikumar, J Praveen, M Jafer Palot & PO Nameer | DC Books | 2011 | Paperback | ISBN: 9788126429219 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • South India, Sri Lanka and the Andaman Islands

    By Brian Gee | Brian Gee | 1995 | Paperback | 70 pages, Maps | ISBN: #46134 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Organisations
  • Cochin Natural History Society

    Website
    The Cochin Natural History Society is a non-profit making, non-political charitable institution registered under the Travancore-Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955. This is a society of amateur naturalists who live in harmony with nature and seek to protect and to preserve the biodiversity and healthy natural environment. The mandate of the society is to undertake studies and documentation of biodiversity around us and to draw attention to the aesthetic, economic, scientific and conservation aspects.The society also intends to provide a platform to those who are concerned to come together and share, enlarge and correct our knowledge about Nature and its magnificence. Any person, who has a love, interest and commitment towards conservation of our biodiversity and natural history may become a member of the society.
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • BS Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    Kumarakom is a large backwater lagoon. While moving around the lagoon, you are likely to see White-breasted Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Small Blue Kingfisher, Little Cormorant, White-breasted Waterhen, Black Bittern, Chestnut Bitten, Little Egret, Cattle Egret and Median Egrets. You may also see Great Cormorants, Open-billed Storks, Grey Herons, Yellow Bitterns, White Ibis, Cotton Teal, Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Koras, Black-caped Kingfishers, Ruddy Crakes, Gull-billed Terns and Shikras.
  • BS Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary - Thattekad

    WebsiteSatellite View
    On the western side of the Indian subcontinent is the rainward side of the western ghats, a lush green part of the country watered by every passing cloud. Here lies the quiet but beautiful Kerala, haven for a wide variety of exotic flora and fauna. Thattekad, on the banks of the river Periyar, is a dense monsoon forest, not very far from the port town of Cochin. Salim Ali described it as the birder`s paradise. A plantation forest with teak, mahogany and fruit-bearing trees along with the natural wild tropical deciduous vegetation, it is home to nearly 350 species of birds, most notably the Malabar grey hornbill. Other exotic birds are the Ceylon frogmouth, Malabar trogon, White-bellied treepie and Heart-spotted woodpecker. Elephants also live here, happy with the easily accessible ponds on the side of the river. It is now protected as the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.
  • BS Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, one of the most important bird santuaries in South Idia, was established by Dr. Salim Ali, the famous ornithologist, in 1998. Thattekkad Sanctuary is situated in Kerala in the Devikulam Taluk of Idukki District…
  • NP Eravikulam

    WebsiteSatellite View
    In the forested high ranges of the south Indian state of Kerala is a valley watered by three rivers. The mountains that hunch out of the valley are covered in manicured slopes of tea. This is the Eravikulam National Park, known for the Nilgiri Tahr, a goat in dire need of the dedicated protection given by the State Forest Department and the company which owns the tea estates in Munnar. This is a good stop-over for wildlifers entering Kerala from Ooty and going toward the Periyar National Park.
  • NP Pampadum Shola

    InformationSatellite View
    Pampadum Shola National Park is the smallest national park in Kerala state, South India…
  • NP Silent Valley

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Silent Valley was declared as National Park in 1984 and formally inaugurated in the year 1985. Initially there was only 89.52 sq.km. area under the Division which forms the core zone of the National Park. In 2007, an area of 148 sq.km. was added to this Division as buffer zone.
  • NP WS TR Periyar

    InformationSatellite View
    Set high in the ranges of the Western Ghats, in God’s Own Country, Kerala, is the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. Periyar wildlife sanctuary has a picturesque lake at the heart of the sanctuary. Formed with the building of a dam in 1895, this reservoir meanders around the contours of the wooded hills, providing a permanent source of water for the local wildlife. Though its a Tiger Reserve, tourists come here to view the Indian elephants in the act of ablution and playfulness by the Periyar lake.
  • WII Thrissur Kole Wetlands

    InformationSatellite View
    The Kole Wetlands is one of largest, highly productive and threatened wetlands in Kerala and has been declared in Ramsar Convention for protection and it comes in Central Asian Flyway of migratory birds. According to studies, there are 241 species of birds like spot-billed pelican, darter, Oriental darter, black-headed ibis, painted stork, black-bellied tern, cinereous vulture and greater spotted eagle.
  • WS Wayanad

    InformationSatellite View
    Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is an animal sanctuary in Wayanad, Kerala, India. It has an extent of 344.44 km2 with four ranges namely Sulthan Bathery, Muthanga, Kurichiat and Tholpetty. A variety of large wild animals such as Indian bison, elephant, deer and tiger are found there. There are also quite a few unusual birds in the sanctuary. In particular, peafowl tend to be very common in the area.
Guides & Tour Operators


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • Anytime Tours

    Tour Operator
    This tour focuses on the endemic birds of the Western Ghats and South India. There is a good chance of picking up most of the endemic bird species associated with the Western Ghats. Species include White-bellied Treepie, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Parakeet, Nilgiri Woodpigeon and Nilgiri Flycatcher, Ceylon Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon and Indian Pitta…
  • Asian Adventures

    Tour Operator
    Birding tours throughout the sub-continent...
  • Birds of Kerala

    Tour Operator
    A Complete Guide to Birding in Kerala, India. Kerala has abundance of forests, wetlands and a long coastline
  • Eldho Bird Tours

    Facebook Page
    Eldho Bird Tours arranges Birding Expeditons to Kerala and other bird-rich areas of South India- Tamilnadu & Karnataka. We want all of our clients to share in the excitement and fun of a top-notch birding adventure, and we want to provide the best service possible to both our tour participants and our independent travel clients…
  • Ficus Wildlife and Natural History Tour

    Tour Operator
    We organize natural history tours in south India and specialize in tours to the Western Ghats of south India, a mountainous eco-region, which are considered as a global biodiversity hotspot. We offer custom made itineraries to individuals and groups with specific interests on birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians as well for those with a broad interest in the natural history of the region
  • Nature & Wild Life Team

    Tour Operator - Facebook Page
    We are passionate about birding, conservation and sharing India's natural history with others by organising outstanding, affordable and responsible wildlife experiences. Our tours are thoroughly researched, meticulously planned, and continually refined using our own inputs from the field, while the fact that we are a small company contributes to the affordability of the prices we pass on to our clients.
Trip Reports


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • 2010 [02 February] - Ficus - Pampadum Shola National Park

    Report
    …At dawn, on a freezing morning, a brief period of quiet is quickly transformed by bird calls soon as the sunlight hit the tree tops. The foggy, dark forest had suddenly come alive. We walk along the main road on a typically productive morning. Mixed hunting parties of Scarlet Minivets, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers and Oriental Whiteeyes are particularly active in the warmth of the morning sun…
  • 2010 [11 November] - Oscar Campbell

    Report
    Other notable species included: Oriental Honey-Buzzard, Black Eagle, Black Baza (all by scanning the hills of the sanctuary), Green Imperial Pigeon, Emerald Dove, Vernal Hanging-Parrot (common), Plum-headed Parakeet, Great Eared Nightjar (scan open areas at dusk), Jungle Owlet seen very well (rufous-toned malabaricum race), Indian Swiftlet, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Asian Fairy Bluebird and (Lesser) Hill Myna…
  • 2011 [03 March] - Ravi Kailas - South India Endemics

    Report
    Our primary focus at Thattekad was birdwatching in the lowland evergreen, riverine and plantation forests around here. Highlight birds from here were Malabar Trogon, Crested Goshawk, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Dollar Bird, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Black-naped Oriole, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Brown Fish Owl, Collared Scops Owl, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Yellow-nape Woodpecker, Puff-throated Babbler, Malabar Grey Hornbill and Large-hawk Cuckoo. White-bellied Treepie were conspicuous by their absence - normally quite noisy and common here…
  • 2013 [01 January] - David Bridges

    Report
    …We arrived at Olivebrook Resort around midday. After lunch, we walked through the forest behind Olivebrook to Grassvena, an area of grassland then on to the hilltop (Pothamedu), birds seen included Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Nilgiri Flowerpecker, Kerala Laughingthrush, Common Rosefinch, Dusky Crag Martin, Pallid Harrier and Tickell’s Leaf Warbler….
  • 2014 [02 February] - Bo Beolens

    PDF Report
    Trip list
  • 2017 [03 March] - Dev - TamilNadu and Kerala

    Report
    Even though i have birded the endemic rich parts of Western Ghats (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Kartnataka), it was not intense and i was in my baby steps during those days. So, with little bit of homework and a list, it’s time to get some intense birding. Munnar became a clear undisputed winner among several others given the different elevations and lots of potential targets. The trip was divided into several legs as this was mainly a trip back home to visit family.
  • 2017 [03 March] - Peregrine Rowse - Western Ghats

    PDF Report
    ... No fewer than a quarter of the species I saw were endemic to the Western Ghats or Peninsula India. Vigors’s Sunbird is also endemic to the northern Western Ghats outside the scope of this report. A list of 203 species recorded in the week follows as well as notes on a dozen species not seen that occur in the Western Ghats....
  • 2017 [12 December] - Jason Boyce

    PDF Report
    The western Ghats in the state of Kerala is one of those well-known birding destinations in India that has a lot to offer and is well worth a visit, having a warm tropical climate that is home to many endemic species...
  • 2018 [03 March] - Jason Boyse

    PDF Report
    The western Ghats in the state of Kerala is one of those well-known birding destinations in India that has a lot to offer and is well worth a visit, having a warm tropical climate that is home to many endemic species. The state is a popular tourist destination and has many attractions. One of the main attractions are the beautiful hillsides of Munnar, covered with tea plantations; this area has over 2000 hotels, many overlooking the picturesque scenery.
  • 2018 [12 December] - Aseem Kothiala - Thattekad Bird Sanctuary

    Report
    Typical for any birder, the first desire is getting a lifer and the second a decent image. After being to the region a couple of times earlier discovered that getting good images was surely a challenge. However, now can suggest that the easiest way to see and photograph the species in Thattekad Bird Sanctuary at least , is by visiting it with Eldhose K.V
Places to Stay


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • Blue Wings Homestay - Thattekkad

    Accommodation
    Blue wings, amidst a forest plantation on the bank of BhoothathanKettu reservoir in Periyar river, embracing Dr. Salim Ali Birds sanctuary has a few acres of land vitalized by tropical medicinal and fruit plants. The flora consists of around 150 larval host and nector plants for butterflies. The plantation forest around, inhabitates wild boars, sambars, deers, Languirs, porcupines etc. and none of the ferocious ones, provides a safe and peaceful stay with lot of recreational facilities such as mud house stay, fishing, country and pedestal boats events in shallow waters, cycling inside and outside the premises, machine assisted tree climbing, shuttle court, swimming, cooking classes, agricultural works, pets caring etc. provision for Ayurvedic treatments also will be arranged on prior demand.
  • Hornbill Camp

    Accommodation
    Welcome to Hornbill Camp. Prepare for the Ultimate Eco- Adventure and enjoy the most pristine jungle, as natural as it gets! Let your stay at this camp be one with nature as you discover the joys of birding in a lowland tropical forest. With over 275 species in such a small area, most of them endemics, Thattekkad offers a rare view into the world of birding in Kerala. The Hornbill Camp has been specifically planned to make you get the most out of your short stay here at Thattekkad.
  • Kerala Tourism Development Corporation

    Accommodation
    Sprawling mansions set in lovely locales-exotic islands, luxuriant game reserves…on hill sides, by beaches, backwaters. That this description fits most of our hotels is not the only thing that makes one an ideal pick for a tourist. The largest hotel chain in Kerala has much much more to offer.
  • Lotus - Kochi Airport

    Accommodation
    Lotus8 A
  • Olive Brook Resort - Munnar

    Accommodation
    Olive Brook, a unique, rustic Elettaria Cardamom Plantation Theme Resort, is one of the most desirable places to stay for tourists in Munnar. Embodying the veritable essence of the acclaimed traditional Kerala hospitality, Olive Brook pays meticulous attention to the minutest details to ensure your stay is a perfectly indelible one… Fatbirder Recommended
  • Our Land Resort

    Accommodation
    OurLand is an island resort situated on the backwaters of Kerala just 14 kilometres south of Alappuzha in Kuttanad area known as the 'rice bowl of Kerala' due to its wealth of paddy crops.,,
  • Palamattom Farm House

    Accommodation
    The Palamattom Farm House is situated within serene Palamattom plantations. The gently uindulating land overlooks the Thattekkad Sanctuary and is bordered by the Anamudi Hills on the side of the Periyar River on the other
  • Periyar House

    Accommodation
    A perfect base to get close to the wild - Located on the banks of the Periyar Lake, Periyar House is a budget jungle lodge, which offers a vantage point for visitors to get close to the wildlife in Thekkady. It is inside the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. For a budget traveller who wish to stay in a wildlife sanctuary this is the best option here.
  • Periyar River Lodge

    Accommodation
    The Periyar River Lodge adjoins the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary in Kerala, which currently attracts lot of ardent birders. We also have an accomplished bird guide who takes the guests for birding trips from the Lodge…
  • Royal Retreat

    Accommodation
    Quiet, restful. A cozy little place, tucked away in the hills of Munnar. A hideout, if you like, from everyday life. For restful weeks or relaxed weekends
  • Soma Birds Lagoon Resort

    Accommodation
    Soma Birds Lagoon Resort presents you a perfect harmony of Ayurveda, Yoga and Nature. Doing Yoga in the serene environs under expert guidance by the backwaters helps elevate the mind to a different realm
  • Tharavadu Heritage Home

    Accommodation
    Ours is a 120 year old Christian Banglow at Kumarakom, the backwater tourist village in Kerala in India. Ours is an Eco Friendly property located by the side of a River and close to the lake. We provide homely stay, boat cruise, ayurveda body massaging etc. etc. for Tourists
Other Links
  • Birds in Thattekkadu

    Website
    Not updated since 2012! Thattekkadu is located in Cochin district at Kerala and is the one of the best Birdwatching hot spots in Kerala…
Blogs
  • Amitava Nath - Birds of India

    BLOG
    Welcome to my Birds of India blog. For centuries, birds have held a fascination for human world and have been a subject of study. Winged wonder inspire great awe, especially for their ability to fly, their ability to build extraordinarily intricate nests and not least, the brilliant colours of their plumage-features that no human being can replicate. India is the home of more than 1250 species of birds. Peacock is our National bird and every state has its own State bird. One may call India a paradise for birding.
  • Birds of Kerala

    BLOG
    This blog is dedicated to all the photography enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. This is an archive for the birds of Kerala. Most of the photos are only at a quality of reference. I am trying my best to capture the beauty of the birds. At the end I like to publish the contents to a book…
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Sudeesh Thattekkadu

    Facebook Page
    Photographer and bird guide
  • Photographer - Praveen P Mohandas

    Facebook Page
    Really stunning images from an award winning photographer

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