Winged-visitor bonds with farmer’s family

Shaji, a duck farmer from Kollad, with the spot-billed pelican under his care.  

A flock of Kuttanadan ducks swimming in perfect formations greets the visitors to Malippadam these days. The flock belongs to Shaji, a farmer-cum-inland fisherman who lives near this polder-turned waterbody at Kollad, Kottayam.

But there is one more bird with broad wings and a massive bill that moves among them, probably a guest from the neighbouring State.

The bird, a spot-billed pelican, came to Shaji’s family about five months ago. His wife, Sreedevi, found the big-sized bird with a unique long head, floating on the water with a wing injury. “We were not sure how serious the injury was but it was clear that the bird was weak and could not fly. Later, we learned that a flock of pelicans had left their seasonal home at a paddy field nearby,” Shaji said.

Strength training

The visitor, which feeds on live fish, keeps floating on the water round the clock while Shaji and his wife have been reaching out to it on their fibre boat. And the visitor now appears to have developed an incredible bond with the couple, who are training it to move along with the boat to gain enough strength.

“It is probably awaiting the return of its flock during the next season so as to return home with them. Till then, we have decided to keep it safe from predators,” Mr. Shaji said while narrating a couple of attempts to trap the bird.

Though the forest officials, who had visited the spot a few weeks ago, came up with a plan to shift the winged-visitor to another safe location, they gave up later.

According to P.O. Nameer, professor of Wildlife with Kerala Agriculture University, Thrissur, spot-billed pelicans are local migratory birds that live in huge breeding colonies across Tamil Nadu, Kanataka, and Andhra Pradesh. “Of late, it has also begun to attain local residential status with the discovery of a local breeding spot in Alappuzha,” he said lauding the compassion shown by the duck farmer and his family towards the bird in distress.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 5:08:28 PM |

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