Bharatpur : Migratory storks arriving at the Bharatpur bird sanctuary in Rajasthan`s Keoladeo National Park have raised hopes of an early monsoon this year.
While the stork is the harbinger of spring in Christian symbolism, the bird`s arrival here signals the imminence of monsoon rains, and consequent relief from the scorching heat.
Experts say the arrival of these winged visitors to India earlier than scheduled indicates that the monsoon is to enter the state sooner this season.
"They are popularly known as `monsoon birds` and they arrive just before the monsoon rains here," Bholu Abrar Khan, a range officer at the sanctuary, told agencies.
The storks usually arrive at the park, situated 170 kms from the state capital Jaipur, by mid-June. This year they are being spotted in the last week of May, and are arriving daily in larger numbers.
The other reason for the early arrival of the Open Billed Stork is the availability of enough food in the park, which is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
"The park has received water from the Chambal river this year, and the canals and ponds are filled with water even in this heat of summer. So, unlike in high summer of earlier years, the birds have plenty of food, like fish, frogs and snakes, which is their staple diet" Khan said.
He informed that these migratory birds start nesting and breeding from early July after the monsoon showers. The breeding season starts after July and they return home by November.
Encompassing a lake and wetlands, the park is spread over an area of 28.72 sq km and has over 380 varieties of resident and migrant birds. It was created by the Maharaja of Bharatpur in the 19th century.
The area, designated as the Keoladeo Ghana Sanctuary in 1965, was upgraded to the Keoladeo National Park in 1981.