Birds Connect Our World
One swallow does not make a summerAristotle
Migratory Birds have lessons to teach to humanity: the will to survive, the intelligence to preserve and plan and the determination to survive. More importantly, the willingness to go through the struggle. Travelling such long distances facing harsh environments, surviving the predators, human-made obstructions, what a journey they make, year after year, demonstrating that mother earth belongs to everyone and it is the humans who have created the boundaries, entry restrictions. How many times one would have thought if only they have wings, fly high and see the world and enjoy the hospitality of mother earth. Nature has solutions to all the problems humans face if only they are patient, observant and tolerant. Birds Connect Our World. They are central to our cultures and have been reflected in our art, music, and belief systems throughout history. Birds inspire us and help us to connect with each other and re-connect with nature.
World Migratory Day is an annual awareness campaign to highlight the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats and Initiated in 2006. From 2018, it is being observed twice a year: on the Second Saturday in May and in October. It is an effort to help raise worldwide consciousness of the dangers faced by migratory birds, their biological significance, and the requirement for global participation to preserve them. “Birds Connect Our World” is the theme for the year. It highlights the importance of conserving and restoring the ecological connectivity for their survival and well-being. Migratory birds are beneficial to the planet’s ecosystems as they provide critical services such as seed dispersal, pollination, pest control and more.
It is estimated that ~1,800 of the world’s 10,000 odd bird species migrate long distances each year in response to the seasons. Migratory birds can travel as far as 16,000 miles and touch speeds of 30 mph and take up to 500 hours to reach their destination. They optimise their journey: mostly travelling during the night when the air is cooler, at very high altitudes and use the stars, the sun, and earth’s magnetism to help them find their way. It is reported that they nearly always return to the place where they were born. The journeys they take are often filled with significant obstacles, including windmills, power stations, and drastic climate changes.
Connectivity is essential for migratory species and essential for a wide variety of ecological functions. Migratory birds need a network of intact habitats along their entire migration routes to survive. The flyways used by migratory birds connect different habitats and transcend national borders. Unsustainable agricultural practices and infrastructural pressures are causing habitats of migratory species to shrink.
Migration of species was recorded from ancient times, Homer and Aristotle, and in the Book of Job, mentioning about it. Johannes Leche recorded dates of arrivals of spring migrants in Finland in 1749. Bird migration routes have been studied by a variety of techniques including the marking (oldest), scientific ringing, stable isotope ratio measurement of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur.
India is a winter home for most of the Siberian birds. Such as Siberian Cranes, Greater Flamingo and Demoiselle Crane, also numerous species of birds from other regions of the world, like Painted Stork, Eurasian Bill, Pelicans, Red knot are some of the migratory birds. These beautiful birds migrate to India every year during the winter and summer season for food, breeding, and nesting. In India, there are Sanctuaries where the migratory birds pay regular visits. Eagle nest Wildlife Sanctuary (Arunachal Pradesh), Chilika Lake (Odisha), Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary ( Kerala), Ranganathitthu Bird Sanctuary (Karnataka), Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary (Goa) Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Rajasthan), Little Rann of Kutch, Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary (Gujarat), are some of them. There are many smaller and less known places where the migratory birds make them their transitory homes, like Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, near to Chennai. Many of the nuclear establishment sites host lots of migratory birds, one such is Kalpakkam.
World Migratory Bird Day is a call to action and a reminder that we are connected by birds’ journeys. Though we may be separated by miles and geography, birds connect us locally and globallySusan Bonfield
Executive Director of EFTA
With 1 million species facing the risk of extinction within our generation, connectivity has become a central topic for biodiversity and sustainability. Mother earth is for everyone. The sooner human beings realise and internalise, the world to become more habitable. Migratory birds are carrying a message, if only we pay attention.
Recall Michael Jackson’s song:
Heal the world Make it a better place For you and for me And the entire human race There are ways to get there If you care enough for the living Make a little space Make a better place
And to make it a better place, we need to take care of every species on mother earth.
Toons: Reema Jaiswal
Logs: Sai Baba