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Thousands of Demoiselle Cranes yet to leave Rajasthan

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Prakash Bhandari, Jodhpur: A very large number of Demoiselle Cranes, the wintering birds from Eurosiberia and China, that usually leaves India by February-end is still in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur despite the surge in mercury—an unusual development.

Khichan, a small village near Jodhpur, has been hosting these cranes for many years. Last year too, it hosted a very large number of these winged ambassadors. These birds flew through the desert and landed in Rajasthan on October 2, 2020, and kept their arrival date unchanged.

In 2019 too, they landed on October 2 and were warmly received by the villagers of Khichan who greeted them with grains-jowar (sorghum) and bajra (millet).

Demoiselle Cranes usually leave by Feb-end

According to Sewa Ram Mali, these birds leave by the last week of February when it becomes hot. However, this time over a lakh of birds came and nearly 16,000 birds are still there.

“We have our own way of counting these birds and it is based on the total weight of grains consumed per day. We average it out as a single bird consume about 200 to 250 gram of jowar or bajra per day. Going by this estimate some 16000 birds are still here and they have not returned. As it is past mid-March, these birds fly only in the morning and evening and they are perched on trees to save themselves from the scorching sun,” said Sewa Ram Mali of Khichan village who regularly feeds them.

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According to villagers, the migration back home started in February but a large number of these birds stayed back because of bad weather in Central Asia.

According to Ratan Lal Maloo who has been involved with migratory birds for about half-a-century now, a group of birds headed by a group leader go for recce and evaluate whether the climate is fit for flying back or not.

“It seems the report of weather particularly rains and snow has forced these birds to stay back. They would fly once they get the feedback till then they are our guests and we would look after them,” said Maloo.

Large number of tourists came this winter to the village of Khichan to see these birds. The villagers have penned songs in praise of birds and these songs are sung when they arrive and there are songs that are sung while bidding them farewell when they are asked to come back next year as well.

 

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