Every winter migratory birds come visiting India. Let's take a look at some of our winter visitors
When it comes to welcoming guests, India literally believes in 'Atithi Devo Bhava', for it welcomes and plays host to over 100 species of migratory birds. These visiting species come to India from around the world during the winter. The Siberian Crane, Greater Flamingo, Dalmatian Pelican, Black-winged Stilt, Common Teal and White Wagtail are some of the migratory species that arrive on the subcontinent. These feathered guests travel in search of feeding grounds to escape the harsh winter of their native habitats and to breed.
Birds start their journey towards other areas only when they sense favourable tailwinds and stop only if the weather turns extremely bad. Several birds fly at very high altitudes during the journey. Flying non-stop creates extreme heat in their bodies, which is diffused by the wind and cold temperature at high altitudes.
These migratory birds feed themselves well before the journey. In fact, they start their journey only when they feel that they have enough fat and will be able to provide their body with the required amount of energy throughout the journey. They then aggregate in flocks and start flying towards their winter homes.
Sighting new and unknown birds has always been a fascination for mankind. Scientific investigation of migrating birds began in 1802. In those early years, birds were tagged with metal bands to identify them. These bands were later replaced with larger bands in the 19th Century. These bands were later given numbers and letters and this helped researchers trace the bird's path to its place of origin.
How migrating birds find their flyways is still a mystery which experts are trying to solve. Recent research and experiments suggest that they start orienting along the Earth's magnetic field with special light receptors in their eyes.
Unfortunately, human activities have endangered many migratory species and many of these species are now extinct. The political boundaries of countries make it difficult to conserve these birds. In 1918, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was signed by the United States and the African-Eurasian Migratory Water Bird Agreement was made with the aim to save migratory species.