Updated: Wed, 18 May 2022 10:46 AM IST
New Delhi | Sugandha Jha: We all have come across birds that are a rare view in the region. These are called migratory birds which travel from one place to another to overcome adverse weather conditions and in search of food. Migratory birds have an important role in balancing the ecosystem. However, they face various threats including deforestation, and loss of habitat majorly due to the increasing climate change.
In order to create awareness about these birds, World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is observed every year on the second Saturdays of May and October. It's a global initiative that highlights the necessity to conserve migratory birds and their habitat. The day originated in 2006 when the United Nations decided the need to make the global population aware of the migratory linkages between regions all over the world. Since then around 118 countries have participated in and hosted the event.
This year WMBD was observed on Saturday, May 14, with its focus on light pollution. Artificial lighting has been increasing globally by at least 2 per cent per annum. Light pollution is a major threat to migratory birds as it leads to disorientation when they fly at night, which, in turn, leads to collisions and also interferes with their long-distance migrations.
Popular migratory birds that fly to India
Some of the popular migratory birds that come to India include Siberian Cranes, Greater Flamingo, Demoiselle Crane, Blue Tailed Bee Eater, Ruddy Shelduck, and Eurasian sparrowhawk, Ruff Bird, Rosy Pelican, Comb Duck, and Black-tailed godwit.
From which countries do migratory birds come to India?
Birds from as many as 29 countries fly to India every year at the beginning of migration. While the shorebirds like waders and ducks, and raptors come from Siberia and Russia, birds like the European flycatcher, brown-breasted flycatcher, and barn swallow come from Europe.
When do migratory birds come to India?
The country witnessed the incoming of large flocks during September-October signifying the beginning of migration. As many as 1,349 species of birds were recorded in 2019, of which 78 were endemic to the country and 212 species were globally threatened, according to the Government of India.
Why do migratory birds come to India?
Migration, basically, is an adaptation mechanism to help birds overcome weather adversities and the unavailability of food in colder regions of the northern hemisphere.
According to Pramod Kumar Srivastava, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Gautam Buddh Nagar, birds migrate to other parts of the world when the temperature in their native place drops below zero, and water bodies started to freeze resulting in the scarcity of food items.
"Migratory birds are often dependent on foods such as fish, worms, and other water insects. This makes the survival of these migratory birds difficult due to which they migrate from one country to another," Srivastava said.
"The birds start their migration from cold countries like Siberia in November when winter starts reaching its peak. Almost 90 percent of migration is completed by the end of November," he added.
Meanwhile, when the temperature in countries where the migratory birds have come starts to rise, they start leaving those countries. By the end of March and the beginning of April, they leave the country completely.
Where do they settle in India?
Birds often migrate to and from specific sites. Thus, certain regions in India have become identified with certain species. For example, Pallikaranai in Chennai attracts a large number of flamingoes, ducks, and waders. Pulicat Lake on the Tamil Nadu-Andhra border hosts flamingoes; ducks and waders can be seen in Chilika lagoon in Odisha. Other notable sites to see migratory birds are the Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur in Rajasthan and Khijadia Bird Sanctuary in Jamnagar in Gujarat.