Wildlife & Biodiversity

Almost 50,000 birds counted at Chilika lake on May 25

Habitat improvement, availability of food and eviction of prawn gherries in the lake had caused more birds to flock to Chilika this year

By Hrusikesh Mohanty
Published: Wednesday 02 June 2021

Some 48,728 birds of 106 species were counted at Odisha’s Chilika lake during the annual summer survey held May 25, 2021, by the Chilika wildlife division. The results were released June 1. Some 45,056 birds of 97 species had been spotted in the brackish water lagoon last summer, sources said.

Birds found this summer included 37,756 waterfowl of 54 species and 10,972 resident birds of 52 species, Sarat Chandra Mishra, assistant conservator of the forest, Chilika wildlife division, said.

The 15.59-sq km Nalabana bird sanctuary inside the lake continued to be the most favourite site of birds. As many as 7,516 birds of 60 species were found in the sanctuary area, Mishra said.

Little Cormorants were the most spotted bird in the lake (4,762). They were followed by Asian Openbill Stork (4,681), Little Egret (3,103), Cattle Egret (3,103), House Crow (2,863), Pelican (150) and Flamingo (60), sources said.

Habitat improvement, availability of food, eviction of prawn gherries (enclosures) in the lake were some of the reasons for more birds flocking Chilika this year — in winter and summer as well, said Mishra.

A record number of 1,242,826 birds of 190 different species had visited the lagoon last winter. These included 1,204,351 migratory birds of 111 species and resident birds of 38,475 of 79 species.

Ornithologists said more winged guests might have visited the lake last winter due to the impact of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Migratory birds had got to fly without hindrances because of the suspension of flights and other vehicles in order to contain the spread of COVID-19, Sudhakar Mohapatra, a senior retired forest officer, said.

Migratory birds mostly come to Chilika from beyond the Himalayas every winter — from northern Eurasia, the Caspian region, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Lake Baikal and remote areas of Russia and neighboring countries. They start their homeward journey before the onset of summer.

The flamingos and pelicans generally come late to Chilika. While pelicans start their journey with the onset of the monsoon, some flamingos, however, choose to stay at the lake. This phenomenon had been witnessed at the lake for the last 3-4 years, Mishra said.

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