Dead bird scare darters away from Okhla sanctuary
A rare bird species has vanished from Okhla Bird Sanctuary this summer. And birders are worried that an accident is behind this sudden disappearance.delhi Updated: Jul 20, 2016 13:45 IST
A rare bird species has vanished from Okhla Bird Sanctuary this summer. And birders are worried that an accident is behind this sudden disappearance. Last month, a grown up Oriental Darter got its beak entangled with a string on a tree and was later sighted dangling dead from a branch.
“Seeing its unnatural death, the rest of the flock of darters got scared and left the sanctuary. It successfully bred this summer in the sanctuary but haven’t returned since this incident,” ecologist TK Roy, who is the Delhi state coordinator of the Asian Waterbird Census, Wetlands International South Asia, told Hindustan Times.
Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) is commonly known as Snake Bird because of its long slim head and neck and dagger-like bill and long tail. Its long snake-like neck is the only visible part of its body when it swims underwater.
The darter presents a fascinating sight when it spears a fish and tosses it in the air before swallowing it. The bird, one among 173 listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as nearly threatened bird species in the Indian subcontinent, is also one of two existing darter species in Asia. It lives on fresh water lakes, rivers, reservoirs, bays and swamps and feeds on fish,
“It’s rare in Delhi region and breeds only at a few wetland habitats in Delhi-NCR (Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Sultanpur National Park, Surajpur Wetland, Najafgarh Drain or Jheel, and so on). This recent disappearance from the Okhla Bird Sanctuary is a very sad development,” Roy said.
During the monsoon breeding season, resident water birds of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary like Purple Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Little Cormorant, Black-crowned Night Heron, Spot-billed Duck, Bronze-winged Jacana, White-breasted Waterhen, Purple Swamphen, Indian Moorhen, Lesser Whistling Duck are usually sighted at Okhla.
The Okhla bird sanctuary attracts more than one lakh migratory birds belonging to 400 avian species in the winter – second only in the world to boast of such numbers. This eco-sensitive habitat, however, has been in the recent past under threat from human encroachment.