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Migratory birds flock to Rajasthan for winter


Prakash Bhandari, Jaipur: With winter around the corner and people already witnessing a nip in the air, migratory birds have started arriving in various parts of Rajasthan to spend the winter.

The biggest of the lot are Demoiselle Cranes that have arrived at villages near Jodhpur. Demoiselle Cranes, locally called Kurja, arrived in the first week of October in Khichan, 145 km from Jodhpur. These beautiful birds from Europe, Siberia, northern Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan come to the Thar desert in Rajasthan as they find the environment here good for wintering and nesting.

On October 23, the villagers of Lalsot, about 80 km from Jaipur, were happy and surprised to see flocks of Rosy Starling birds. These birds landed in Morel dam area which is filled to the brim because of a good monsoon this time.

The Rosy Starling is a passerine bird and they come from deserts of Central Asia and Southeast Europe. It can be found from northwestern Mongolia via Dzungarei, Xinjiang, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to southern Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Its southern range extends to the north of Afghanistan and Iran.

“They are a regular winter migratory birds and apart from India, they spend time in Pakistan also. But, probably for the first time, they have chosen our village for wintering. They are located in and around the Morel dam. They fly to nearby villages and come back in the evening. We welcomed these winged ambassadors. As the birds’ nest near the dam, people are going to see the flock and enjoy nature” said Subhash Paharia, an environmentalist.

The local people have named these birds Gulabi Maina and they go to the dam area with food grains to feed the guest birds. The local farmers have observed that these birds thrive on jowar, millet and sesame which they eat during this harvesting season.

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The farmers said that these birds also feast on worms and larvae and this help the farmers save their plants from insecticides.

Kurjas are welcomed as they play an important role in maintaining the biodiversity in Rajasthan. Kurjas come in very large numbers, in thousands, on the banks of Tal Chhapar in Churu district, Lunkaransar in Bikaner district, Gajner Jheel, Kheichan and Bap Thana area of Phalodi in Jodhpur district, Pachpadra, Tirsingdi, Korana, Navai villages of Barmer and the ponds of Jaisalmer.

The traditional water sources in the desert, the safe, serene environment and the attachment of the people towards the fauna have been the reason for the attraction of these birds. The people of Thar, especially women, have had a friend-like relationship with the kurjas. And this relationship of women and kurjas is also evident in the folk songs of Rajasthan as well.

Pachpadra, a town near Rajasthan’s Jodhpur where the oil refinery is coming up, is also known for salt production. But, in recent years, it has become a favourite place for the migratory birds that enjoy the salt lake and love to bathe in the lake. Thousands of birds have come this year to the banks of a sprawling salt lake.

Barmer has become the new home for these birds. The vast expanse of the Thar desert with adequate numbers of water bodies attract more and more migratory birds every year.


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