Mercury is soaring and Indian summer in all its glory is here. Days are long and the sweltering hot weather makes them even more unbearable. Where ever you see, you can find people looking for shelter and seeking shade under trees. Even birds and animals for that matter are oppressed by this heat. Indian subcontinent is also host to migratory birds and these birds also need favourable conditions to thrive which include green covers and watered holes.
If you just look around yourself, you can see many species of birds including house sparrows, mynahs, parrots, crows etc. These birds live in our vicinity and our mornings are resonant with the twittering of these birds. Imagine sitting in your balcony, sipping a cup of tea minus the twitter of birds! Isn’t it pretty difficult to imagine? Birds are a very important part of our lives and watching a bird balancing itself over a branch or chirping is one of the joys for a nature lover or even for an otherwise uninterested spectator. Such is their beauty and charm!
Summer months also mean loss of body fluids resulting in dehydration and thirst. It is as much tough for birds and animals as for us humans. Even birds suffer from heat stroke and exhaustion. These little birds don’t have access to water except from street side drains and puddles which are often filled with dirty water. All of this result in birds dying of excessive heat and the mortality rate of birds go very high due to unbearable heat, often in search of food and water. How can we help? We human beings have access to all resources and protecting and nurturing birds and wild animals is in our hands. But we have to be proactive and take action before birds like sparrows and pigeons become extinct forever.
There are certain ways through which we can chip in
- Keeping bird feeders and water for birds in summer- It is very easy to create a bird feeder for your own home. However if you are not able to do it, you can keep some feed for birds in a small cup and keep fresh cold water in another in your balcony. Keep the place clean and if possible keep some plants around them so that the birds feel relaxed.
- Earlier keeping small troughs filled with water and having water fountains was not very uncommon for Indian households. But due to huge increase in population, water has become dearer and fountains are now considered luxury. Also, space crunch in big cities has made having such things a rare luxury. What we are forgetting is that these fountains were once thirst quenching spots for birds. Now neither do we see troughs anywhere, nor such fountains. Having a huge fountain is well nigh impossible for everyone. But having small bird bath fountains is pretty easy. Birds can access it and not only relax they can also quench their thirst.
- Planting more trees is not only the need of the hour for us, it is also very important for birds and animals. The spring summer also marks the nesting season for birds and the lack of trees result in them nesting on electric poles, windows, shelves etc. These are dangerous places for making a nest as they can be destroyed intentionally or unintentionally by humans. You could create a small nesting place beside the bird feeder where these tiny birds can build their home.
- Protecting the migratory birds- Every year lakhs of feathered friends migrate from their home country and visit various parts of India. They come from Siberia and many other places which grow extremely cold during winter months. Some of the migratory birds are Siberian Cranes, Black winged Stilt, Common Greenshank, Northern pintail, Yellow wagtail, Rosy Pelican, Wood Sandpiper etc. They take refuge in the wildlife sanctuaries set up in various parts of India. These beautiful birds attract nature lovers especially bird watchers also known as ornithologists to their dwelling places. Out of around 2000 species found in India and South Asia, 350 are of migrant variety. In recent years depletion of green cover as well as drying up of water holes, ponds together with mindless poaching and killing of these birds has resulted in a critical situation for the migratory birds
- Unlike us humans, birds do not have the ability to sweat and bring down the body temperature. Therefore they have developed certain unusual tricks to keep cool in summer. As per certain studies birds keep cool by spreading their wings to allow the air to circulate around them. Birds also droop their wings to protect their nestlings. Some birds also engage in gular fluttering which in other words is opening its mouth and fluttering its neck muscles. But whatever method they use to keep cool, they still need water to bring down their body temperature as well as quench their thirst.
- Some people have the luxury of having their own small gardens. These gardens can become a place of refuge for the birds. Creating a temporary pond, creating a bird feeder and putting fresh, clean water for the birds can help make a difference. If however you don’t have a garden, you can still help by putting a small birdfeeder and water cup on your window sill or balcony.
- Ornithology: For the love of birds- One of the most famous Indian Ornithologists was Salim Ali who is popularly known as ‘birdman of India’. He was the force behind the creation of Bharatpur bird sanctuary and saved silent valley national park from destruction. He has created lot of awareness about birds and their well being. Ornithology is a hobby which needs to be inculcated in our children so that they are able to appreciate these little birds and come closer to nature. Information about these birds can be acquired through various platforms including internet and wildlife magazines. Only when we start caring about birds, we understand their travails and issues.
- Pet birds- Indians have a hobby of keeping birds as their pets since ages. Parrots, Cuckoo birds, Mynahs, Indian love birds and even Peacocks are kept as pets. At some homes these birds are kept very well at other places, they are kept in utter neglect and pallid circumstances. If you are thinking of keeping a pet bird, do make sure that you keep them in comfort and do not neglect their well being at any cost.
- Wild birds- There are certain species of birds which have not been domesticated. These would include owls, eagles, pelicans, crows etc. These birds also need as much care and hence protecting them is also a great responsibility
- Sea birds- Sea birds such as sea gulls, Albatross, Penguins, Fulmar, Frigatebird, Murre, atlantic puffin etc. are certain types of sea birds. The natural habitats of these birds are in and around the sea coasts.
Animals and birds are our link to the nature whose resources we are exploiting incessantly and without compensating for it in anyway. Since 1500 AD around 190 species of birds have become extinct and wiped out from the face of the earth. As per current estimations, out of the 10,000 species of birds which are present on earth, around 1200 are under threat of being extinct forever. Thus, if we don’t wake up now, much of what is around us can be erased forever.
It is our responsibility to protect the birds and animals around us not only in the terribly hot summers but the chilling winters too. If we don’t wake up now, it’s going to be too late for all of us.
Tags: birds, save birds