Migratory birds found in Bhagalpur
Migratory birds found in Bhagalpur in Bihar, India. Image Credit: Supplied

Patna: In a novel initiative, Bihar is holding a bird festival to create awareness about the importance of migratory birds that arrive here in large numbers every year. The initiative assumes significance in the light of increasing cases of poaching and illegal hunting of migratory birds that provide benefits to the ecosystem, including pest control, pollination of plants and also serve as food sources for other wildlife, according to researchers.

The first-of-its-kind bird festival is being organised at Bhagalpur, an eastern Bihar town located on the southern bank of the Ganges. The three-day festival likely to start from December 11 is being jointly organised by the Bhagalpur forest division, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Mandar Nature Club.

The town has been selected for the event keeping in view the 60-km-long stretch of Vikramshila Dolphin Sanctuary between Sultanganj and Kahalgaon towns, which has been a hub of migratory birds. Forest officials and ornithologists said more than 100 species of migratory birds have been reaching here every year attracted by the water bodies, green vegetation and clean environment of the riverine areas of the Ganga in Bhagalpur and adjoining areas. They normally come during November and stay till March.

“Bhagalpur is a hub of exclusive migratory birds, and the objectives behind holding the festival are to attract the people towards bird watching, making them aware about the importance of migratory and preserving the winged guests,” senior forest official Sudhakar Sathiaseelan told the media on Wednesday. This is the first time in the state that such a festival is being organised here.

Officials said during the three-day festival various functions would be held aimed at creating awareness about the importance of these birds and protecting them from poachers and hunters. One such programme is “bird race” which includes sending teams of various participants in different locations to find winged guests, their habitats and their ecology.

Deputy Director of Zoological Survey of India Gopal Sharma said aound 100 species of migratory birds arrive in the dolphin sanctuary. They include painted stork, bar headed goose, brown headed Gull, red crested pochard, Brahmani duck, black necked stork, greater adjutant stork, northern pintail, comb duck, Eurasian coot, little grebe, common crane ad spoonbill.

Recently, Oriental Turtle Dove and Oriental Honey Buzzard were also spotted by the researchers. Oriental Turtle Dove, also known as Rufous Turtle Dove, is found in Siberia and other parts of eastern Asia and Europe. Oriental Honey Buzzard or Crested Honey Buzzard breeds in central Siberia, Japan and parts of other Asian countries and migrate to wintering areas in southeast Asia by taking 700 km nonstop flight, according to environmentalists.

Environmentalists say such initiatives will help put a check on poaching and illegal hunting in the state. Poaching of winged guests has been rampant in Bihar as they fetch attractive money to the hunters. They are mostly sold to food lovers for prices ranging between Rs500 to Rs1,500.

According to environmentalists, many water birds also come from the European coasts to escape the freezing cold. They breed here in the warmer environment and return to the original habitats with their offspring by February or March.