An increasing presence of Lesser whistling teal or Indian whistling teal (Dendrocygna Javanica) has been reported from the State recently, thanks to the favourable breeding conditions. A common Indian bird, the Lesser whistling teal, was identified by Dr. Salim Ali way back in 1931.
Shrinkage of favourable breeding conditions, habitat loss and human interference had led to a decrease in its number. R. Sugathan, ornithologist at the Thattekkad bird sanctuary and a disciple of Dr. Salim Ali, told The Hindu on Tuesday that some favourable factors in the State had led to a steady increase in its number over the past few years. He said that paddy fields, which had been remaining fallow for a few years, offered an ideal breeding spot for the bird. It often nests on palm or coconut trees, near to undisturbed paddy fields. Up to eight newborns will be there in a family and under favourable conditions, more birds will survive.
He said that recently over 2,000 Lesser whistling teal were identified in the Thattekkad sanctuary alone giving hope for its effective conservation in the region. This has also ruled out the misconception that the presence of Lesser Whistling Teal was confined to Palakkad area alone.
According to Mr. Sugathan, the teal is different from the duck species in terms of breeding, food-taking and behaviour. The Blue wing teal, a migratory species from Siberia, is quite different from the Lesser whistling teal and the former never nests in the country. Moreover, the Blue Wing Teal often damage paddy cultivation.
A Lesser whistling teal with its newborns, rescued from Kothakuthy, near Thodupuzha, by the members of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, led by president M.N. Jayachandran, and forest officials, were handed over to the Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary authorities recently. The birds were released to the sanctuary after a few days of care.