Migratory birds arrive in Kerala

December 07, 2011 04:41 pm | Updated 04:41 pm IST - KOLLAM

Black-winged stilt spotted in Kerala in December.

Black-winged stilt spotted in Kerala in December.

One of the clear signs that winter has set in the northern hemisphere is the arrival of migratory birds in their thousands to tropical India to escape the winter-related problems at homeland. Kerala has many such terrestrial and wetland winter resorts for them and the feathered guests have already checked in to all of them.

The arrival has been traditionally abrupt. Especially, the wetlands and its surroundings are one fine morning suddenly teeming with birds that were not there the previous day. Bird watchers say that the migratory birds usually arrive during the night following certain cues that are part of their genetic heritage.

By the time they have reached their Kerala destinations, they would have flown thousands of kilometres over many countries. They return to their homes to breed when they get the instinctive message that spring has arrived there. Till then there are expatriates of sorts here enjoying the warmth of the Kerala.

According to P.O. Nameer, associate professor (forestry) of the Kerala Agriculture University, about 152 species of migratory birds sojourn in Kerala. They include about 80 species of water birds. Professor Nameer, who is also the State coordinator of the International Bird Conservation Network (ICBN), said that none of the migratory birds breed during this sojourn.

He said that these birds come from the Eurasia region. They are mainly from Siberia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and other area north of the Himalayan regions. Some of the birds are also from the Himalayan region. As part of the global process, survey of the migratory birds at the winter resorts will begin in January.

Prof. Nameer said that given the flock strengths that have arrived, there appears to be not much of a fluctuation in the population of these birds compared to last year. Even the arrivals last year was more or less on par with the previous year. It shows protection and conservation awareness is appreciably strong, he said.

Travancore Natural History Society coordinator, H. Charan said that some of the important wetland destinations of the migratory birds in Kerala are Vellayani, Ashtamudi, Sasthamcotta, Vembanad-Kuttanad belt, the charcoal fields of Thrissur, Bharathapuzha belt, Kadalundi, Kattamballi in Kannur, the Kawaikayal of Kasargode and the Neeleshwaram Thaikadappuram.

The migratory species arriving include godwits, terns, ospreys, golden plovers, pratincoles, several species of ducks and waders like sandpipers and plovers. The counting of the birds will be conducted by the Asian Wetland Bird Survey with support from the ICBN under supervisions of the Bombay Natural History Society.

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