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Monsoon brings black-headed ibis to Delhi-NCR for breeding

The birds have built their nests on date palm groves — an unusual habitat

August 30, 2016 12:00 am | Updated October 18, 2016 02:51 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

New address:A flock of nearly 50 black-headed ibis have made Surajpur Wetland of Greater Noida their home.— Photo: Special Arrangement

New address:A flock of nearly 50 black-headed ibis have made Surajpur Wetland of Greater Noida their home.— Photo: Special Arrangement

Heavy rain in Delhi-NCR this monsoon may have spelt chaos for residents, but it has brought rare joy to birdwatchers as a large flock of the black-headed ibis, a threatened species, has flown to Surajpur Wetland of Greater Noida for breeding.

Not just the black-headed Ibis, the rain seems to have done wonders as nearly a dozen other bird species have also been spotted with their nestlings.

While sightings of the black-headed Ibis are not exactly rare in the Capital, experts say they hardly choose the region for breeding. So a flock of at least 50 birds nesting at Surajpur Wetland has been a pleasant surprise for bird lovers and experts.

“Generally, this threatened species flies to the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary in Agra for nesting and breeding. There, they are found in large numbers. But this is probably the first time that Delhi-NCR has witnessed such a large flock for reproduction,” said T.K. Roy, the Delhi state coordinator for Asia Waterbird Census.

Unusual habitat

This is not all. The birds have sprung another surprise by building their nests on date palm groves — a highly unusual habitat for them. They mostly build their nests on Jamun trees. However, they may have been unable to settle there because of constant human disturbance for plucking of the fruit.

“The rain has revived the Surajpur Wetland. The area now has good marshlands and thick grasslands that provide good nesting and breeding ground for birds,” Mr. Roy added.

One of three species

The breeding of black-headed Ibis took place in a very small numbers at the Delhi zoo over five years ago.

The white colour wetland bird with a black neck and head has a stout and a down-curved long black bill to nibble into marshes and soft mud for food. It’s one among the three species of Ibis available in Asia, mainly South-East and South Asia.

Mixed breeding colony

The bird is named in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species and has a global population of up to 30,000, as per BirdLife International.

At the Surajpur Wetland, the birds have settled in a mixed breeding colony, which boasts inhabitants like black-crowned night heron, little cormorant, little egret and Asian openbill.

Other birds

Besides these, breeding of a number of other migratory water birds has also been recorded in Delhi-NCR. These include streaked weaver, cinnamon bittern, yellow bittern, bronze-winged jacana, pheasant-tailed jacana, Indian moorhen, Indian spot-billed duck, purple swamphen, white-breasted waterhen and cattle egret.

The birds mostly build nests on Jamun trees, but may have not done so due to human disturbance

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