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செவ்வாய், ஜனவரி 31, 2012

Post 'Thane Cyclone', bird population dwindles in Cuddalore district

Birds have lost their shelters in post 'Thane' in Cuddalore. Photo:C.Venkatachalapathy
          Birds have lost their shelters in post 'Thane' in Cuddalore. 
 
 
 
           Post-cyclone ‘Thane', the bird population in Cuddalore district has significantly come down, both due to untimely deaths and shifting of habitats. The strong winds forced birds such as crows, sparrows, mynahs, parrots and ravens to abandon their usual roosting places and settle elsewhere.

         After the cyclone the carcasses of quite a number of crows were seen in many places and also along the coastline. Caught in the whirlwind they could not wing their way to safety. Deputy Director of the Bombay Natural History Society S. Balachandran, who has conducted studies on birds along the east coast, including Cuddalore, told The Hindu that fortunately for the bird population the cyclone struck in December.

      Had it happened during September-October the migratory birds would have perished in large numbers because that is the time when they fly over the region. Some of the migratory birds choose to spend the winter in Cuddalore district, he said. He said that that the common bird species, which take cover in the thick foliage, were rendered without shelter with several trees being uprooted. This had given rise to a situation in which these domesticated birds would have to find shelter on rooftops, window sills, ventilator chutes, high tension transmission lines and barren branches of truncated trees.

         With the dense canopies gone, the birds now stand fully exposed. These trees once harboured hundreds of birds. Today too many crows are seen sharing a defoliated coconut tree or a rain tree that escaped the ravages of the cyclone. Mr. Balachandran revealed a lesser known fact about Cuddalore: it attracts migratory birds from as far as Russia and the Arctic region and these are seen in groups on paddy fields. The black-tailed godwit, a bird species from the Arctic region, is often sighted plodding through the paddy fields. Sandpipers and plovers are the winged visitors from Russia that wing their way to Cuddalore.











Another species known as Ruff prefers to dwell on marshy land. These shore birds were gravely disturbed by the cyclone and many perished.
In the Pichavaram mangrove forests, Mr. Balachandran said, endemic species such as egrets and herons were affected.
The saving grace was that Cuddalore does not boast of any sanctuary or else the devastation could have been much worse to the fauna.
At the same time, Mr. Balachandran categorically said that the birds had the resilience to survive trying conditions and preen their feathers to get ready for flight.
He was confident that the domestic species would proliferate easily once the green cover was restored and adequate feed available.
 

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