Wildlife & Biodiversity

Bihar plans migratory bird festival to raise awareness about them

The festival organisers hope the event will help in keeping a check on bird poaching incidents by making citizens value them

By C K Manoj
Published: Tuesday 01 December 2020
Two Fulvous Whistling Ducks, a species that breeds in tropical areas including India. Photo: C K Manoj

Bihar is holding a bird festival for the first time as part of its initiative to save migratory birds that arrive in the state in large numbers every year. The three-day festival is being organised in eastern Bihar’s Bhagalpur district and will tentatively start from December 11, 2020.

The festival is being jointly organised by the Bhagalpur forest division, non-profit Bombay Natural History Society and the local Mandar Nature Club.

Forest officials and environmentalists said the selection of Bhagalpur for the bird festival held special significance.

This was because the 60-kilometre-long stretch of the Vikramshila Dolphin Sanctuary between Sultanganj and Kahalgaon had long been a hub of migratory birds.

Migratory birds normally come during November and stay till March, finding the region favourable for spending the winter, according to environmentalists.

“A large number of migratory birds arrive in Bhagalpur every year and our prime objective behind holding the bird festival is to create awareness among people about the importance of migratory birds,” S Sudhakar, divisional forest officer (DFO), Bhagalpur, told this reporter December 1.

A juvenile Palla's Gull, a species that migrates to India during winters. Photo: C K ManojA juvenile Palla's Gull, a species that migrates to India during winters. Photo: C K Manoj

He said such programmes would prompt common people to take care of birds and preserve them in the interests of society and environment.

“People’s participation is a must for conserving migratory birds,” the DFO said.

Various programmes will be organised during the three-day festival. One of them will be a ‘bird racing’ programme involving finding birds, their habitats and their ecology.

“Teams of participants will be sent to different locations to watch birds, take their photographs or sketch their image. The team found the most accurate in identifying the birds will be rewarded,” Gopal Sharma, deputy director of Zoological Survey of India said.

Other programmes during the bird festival include a presentation on birdlife and gathering public opinion on setting bird ringing stations in Bhagalpur.

The ‘ringing of birds’ involves trapping them in nets and snares. Subsequently, they are weighed and their details logged before a metal ring inscribed with a unique number is tied to their tibia bone.

This helps birdwatchers and professional conservationists log their presence across the globe.

Ornithologists have found Bhagalpur to be a ‘bird paradise’ with a number of migratory birds reaching there every year.

Some prominent migratory birds arriving in Bhagalpur include bar-headed goose, steppe eagle, Ferruginous duck, Eurasian curlew, white wagtail, great crested grebe, common greenshank and Eurasian coot.

Prominent environmentalist and state coordinator of Indian Bird Conservation Network Arvind Mishra said around 100 varieties of migratory birds had been arriving in Bhagalpur every year.

The main attractions for migratory birds in the eastern part of the country were plenty of water bodies, such as Vikramshila Dolphin Sanctuary on the Ganga river, Jagatpur lake and Kanwar lake, Mishra added.

Environmentalists said such initiatives could put a check on incidents of bird poaching in the state. Poaching of migratory birds has been quite rampant in Bihar as they fetch a lot of money for bird catchers. They are mostly sold to lovers of wild game for prices ranging between Rs 500 and Rs 1,500.   

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