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World Migratory Bird Day! Ecological importance of winged friends in focus

3 min read

Chaturved Shet R

Mysuru: Birds are beautiful living beings with magnificent colours of various shapes and sizes. They take flight sometimes flapping their wings, other times simply gliding. One of the most fascinating reasons for the flight of birds is their migration and these birds are known as migratory birds.

Migration is the regular seasonal movement, often north and south, undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather.

Eurasian Spoonbill at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in Mandya. Image courtesy Chaturved Shet R

Approximately 1,800 of the world’s 10,000 bird species are long-distance migrants. Migrating birds start on a journey when they feel that they have put on enough fat to provide them energy throughout the journey.

The timing of migration seems to be controlled primarily by changes in a day length. Migrating birds navigate using celestial cues from the sun and stars, the earth’s magnetic field and mental maps. There are many ways of migration, few major ways are: Nocturnal Migration, Long-distance migration, Diurnal migration, Short-distance migration and Altitudinal migrations.

Migration in India

Altitudinal migration is common on mountains worldwide, such as in the Himalayas and the Andes. Bar-headed Goose is the highest flying bird in the world and migrates to India in winter season. The bar headed Goose migrates over the Himalayas and spends their winter in Assam to Tamil Nadu states of India.

It is estimated that over 350 different species of migratory birds fly to India, either in search of feeding grounds or to escape the severe winter of their native habitat. India is home for the most of the Siberian birds such as Siberian Cranes, Greater Flamingo and Demoiselle Crane also numerous species of birds from other region of the world. Some of the migratory birds are Lesser Flamingo, Rosy Starling, Asiatic Sparrowhawk, European Bee-eater, Blue Throat, Black-tailed Godwit, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Black-winged Stilt, Northern Shoveler, Rosy Pelican, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Pallid Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Eurasian Spoonbill and many more.

One of the remarkable migrations which India witnesses are great migration of Amur Falcons.

For Amur Falcons, survival means flying 22,000 kms every year of their lives. They make an epic migration to Southern Africa crossing 14 countries, two continents and one ocean, as their prey dries up in their breeding grounds in Siberia. Longest migration made by any bird of prey.
These migrants make a pit stop in few remote valleys in northeast India. This is the greatest gathering of birds of prey on the planet.

World Migratory Bird Day is observed on May 9 every year to raise awareness about conservation and ecological importance of migratory birds in global ecosystem.

The theme of World Migratory Bird Day 2020 is “Birds Connect Our World”. This year’s theme is to highlight the importance of conservation and restoration of ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems that support the movement of these birds.

The day was first introduced in 2006 after the Secretariat of Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) came up with a proposal.

Each year a variety of events are held to raise awareness. Various Birdwatching events are held for bird lovers. Local NGOs and government agencies are also working on creating awareness through different birding actives and competitions for students.

List of such Bird Days celebrated globally for creating awareness on tge conservation of birds and highlighting their ecological importance is as follows

1 15-03-2020 Buzzard Day
2 20-03-2020 World Sparrow Day
3 29-05-2020 Pink Flamingo Day
4 05-09-2020 World Vulture Awareness Day
5 06-10-2020 World Wildlife Day
6 12-11-2020 World Birds Day
7 14 to 17th February Great Backyard Bird count week

( The writer is researcher and co-founder
Harish R Bhat Science Foundation (HRBSF)
www.hrbsf.org)

– Team Mysoorunews 

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