Cyclone takes a toll on winged visitors from Siberia

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 15:45

Srikakulam: Cyclone Phailin`s fury has also hit avian species with over 1000 open-billed storks, the Siberian migratory birds that flock the district each year, dead in its aftermath while a couple of thousands became homeless.

Forest Department officials are trying to save a few by keeping them in a temporary shelter in a local school building at Telu Kunchi, where the birds flock in June every year.

However, the officials are having a tough time in terms of feeding the birds as they eat only snails.

According to B Vijay Kumar, Divisional Forest Officer, Srikakulam, nature`s fury may affect the birds` migratory cycle and impact the number of arrivals next year.

He said more than 1000 birds died in the last four days during and after the cyclone.

Telineelapuram and Telukunchi areas in the district house nearly 5000 pelicans and open-billed storks that fly thousands of kilometres from the icy Siberian region every year during June and fly back in December.

The winged visitors travel for nearly a month to reach these places.

"They come here for nesting in June. They lay eggs and hatch them and go back to their respective places by December along with the newborn. Now the chicks are just one month old. Unfortunately, their habitat was disturbed due to heavy winds and rain which damaged many trees where nests are located. Many of them fell down and died as they could not fly," Kumar said.

Kumar said the department has rescued more than 200 birds and is feeding them with alternate food and giving water mixed with vitamin tablets.

"We have kept more than 200 or so in a local school building. We are taking help from the Visakhapatnam Zoo veterinary officials. They suggested that there is a fish called `Gulivinda` which can be an alternate feed instead of snails," he said.

The birds are fed hand-to-beak with Gulinvinda fish-mash which is made into a small tablet form.

The villagers care for the birds and do not even celebrate Diwali as sounds of crackers and other fireworks may upset the birds. They ensure that poachers would not kill those birds, the official explained.

As the bird make its nest on Tamarind and Banyan trees, the villagers even forego tamarind crop also during the season for the sake of birds, Yedu Kondalu a local forest department official said.

"They are our guest. The birds come to our places as they feel safer with a view of all these measures. Villagers have a sentiment that if anything happens to those birds that would affect their crops," the local official said.

Snails are abundantly available in most of the water bodies in and around Telukunchi area.

The birds need both breeding and feeding grounds.

"Since the natural phenomenon is disturbed next year the migration may come down. We think the number may be dropped as the migratory birds` instinct is different from other living creature. If they feel insecure they may migrate to other areas," Kumar said.

The forest department official said there are other regions such as Kolleru in the state where the Storks live during the season.


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First Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 15:45

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