The birds nest in tall trees which are abundant in Govt. quarters and colonies
Residents of the All India Radio staff quarters near Mahatma Gandhi Road are familiar with ‘quak...quak’ call of the Black-Crowned Night Heron. This water bird is unique in that it nests on the branches of trees far away from the water bodies where it feeds.
These social birds roost and nest in colonies on platforms of sticks among a group of trees.
The trees in the AIR staff quarters are home to one such colony of these nocturnal herons. They live in the nest throughout the day and fly out to feed towards the evening and return to the nest at dawn. The Black-Crown Night Heron’s nesting site in the heart of the city is yet another avian hotspot that needs protection.
Central government employee quarters and colonies have become the last repositories of greenery, especially tall trees, on which birds still nest. They have made the trees their home and have learnt to co-habit with man. But, their population was substantially reduced, thanks to frequent cyclones and urban deforestation.
Several large rain trees near the Railway officials’ bungalows were felled to make place for new structures. A few very old trees that provide shade are also being felled in the compound of the Victoria Jubilee Museum to make place for the expansion of the facility. The canopies of the museum and various government staff colonies located on Mahatma Gandhi Road are the favourite hangouts of the relatively rare Indian Grey Hornbill. The Night Heron nesting colony has enhanced the environmental value of the tree now.
The Night Herons, like all arboreal beings, are a vulnerable lot. In the late 1960s, a decline in the number of Black-Crowned Night Herons were noted, and it was attributed to the use of DDT.
Adults are often killed or trapped near fish-culture establishments due to their fishy diet. Herons that nest close to human settlements are considered pests and often killed.