Openbill’s nesting spot brings joy to birders

Nesting places of Asian Openbill Storks spotted at Thirunavaya in Malappuram.  

The spotting of large nesting places of Asian Openbill Stork, a large wading migratory bird, at Thirunavaya in Malappuram district has brought cheers to wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers here as it was an indication of their peaceful breeding and growing population in the region.

The Openbill Storks were considered very rare in the State until late 1970s. Their population began to spread to more wetlands throughout the State since 1990s.

However, it was only very rarely that their nesting places were spotted from anywhere in the State.

According to Jafer Palot, a zoologist with the Kozhikode regional centre of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), The Hindu had in 2004 reported about a group of Thiruvananthapuram-based bird-watchers recording a nesting and breeding place of Openbill in a sacred grove near Shoranur in Palakkad district. The report he says, had also claimed that to be the first ever citing of the bird’s nesting place from the State.

25 nests

The new breeding spot at Thirunavaya was discovered by C.P. Babu from Manassery, a known bird-watcher from the district. According to Mr. Babu, there were around 25 nests on top of a bunch of screw pines bordering a large stretch of lotus filled water body near the railway-track at Thirunavaya.

The place is very hard to reach for human beings, says P.T. Muhammed, wildlife photographer, who accompanied Mr. Babu to record the citing. “We had to wade through nearly a km in the waist-deep water to get them photographed,” says Mr. Muhammed, who used a 500 mm telelens to zoom on them from about a km distance.

The Asian Openbill stork is predominantly greyish white with glossy black wings and tail that has a green or purple sheen. Their beak is reddish black with arching mandibles, which do not meet except at the tip, and gives the species its name in Malayalam Cheraa Kokkan (meaning, beaks which do not meet).

Mentioned by Salim Ali

The bird, which has been mentioned by the renowned ornithologist Salim Ali in his book Birds of Kerala as a local migrant, had also been described in detail in the book ‘Birds of Kerala: status and distribution’ co-authored by a group of people including Dr. Palot.

“The new citing of the bird’s breeding spot is a really significant,” he says.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 5:57:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/openbills-nesting-spot-brings-joy-to-birders/article7736934.ece

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