The bird ‘swarms’ that charm the city

Rosy Starlings come every winter to occupy city’s canopies during their annual migration

March 31, 2018 01:01 am | Updated 01:01 am IST

A murmuration of Rosy Starlings at dusk in Vijayawada.

A murmuration of Rosy Starlings at dusk in Vijayawada.

From a distance it looks like smoke against the bright evening skyscape. Closer, the smoke looks like a swarm of bees.

Still closer, they are actually a flock of hundreds of birds flying in perfect formation.

They are Rosy Starlings, winter visitors to the city.

The ‘murmurations’ (flying in formation) of the Rosy Starlings are a birdwatcher’s delight. Second generation Chinese dentist Zenny Hu recalls seeing the Starlings on his way to the clinic at dusk. “I see people trying to take pictures of these birds near the Railway Club with their mobiles. I have seen these birds doing aerobatics during the season, but I don’t know their name,” Mr. Hu said.

The Rosy Starlings, known to be very strong migratory birds come every winter to occupy the canopies in the areas around Swaraj Maidan (earlier called PWD Grounds) all the way from Eastern Europe where they roost. The Swaraj Maidan, an open ground in the heart of the city is surrounded by government offices and the bungalows of senior officials. These bungalows, with large compounds are the last bastion of huge trees. One of the Starlings’ favourite seems to be the trees in and around Police Commissioner Gowtham Sawang’s bungalow.

Moreover, these trees are home to some exotic avian fauna. The Indian Grey Hornbill used to be regular visitors to the trees in the compound of Victoria Jubilee Museum. After bifurcation, trees were felled for an additional block. Several Night Herons still nest on trees around the AIR quarters.

According to Migrantwatch, a blog which records movement of migrating birds, the Starlings usually arrive in A.P. in September sometimes they land in the middle of December. And they leave before the sun gets too hot in early March. This year, they have overstayed a month probably because of the Cold Wave in Europe, ornithologists said.

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