Role shift: with humans locked up, birds fill the silence as sightings increase

Over the past week, a myriad of colorful, rearing birds have made their way in the quiet morning ritual of Aman Dogra, resident of the Great Kailash-II, drinking coffee on her balcony. Looking at the empty, sunlit road on Wednesday, an unusual one caught his attention and Google told him it was a purple bird.

As humans are caged in their homes, thousands of birds have taken over Delhi-NCR's quiet neighborhoods, some migrants and others who were always nearby but would go unnoticed, singing on balcony railings, flying in groups through gardens and jumping from one tree branch to the other. Ornithologists say clean air, reduced noise levels, and the ongoing breeding season have helped this emerging emergency.

Faiyaz Khudsar, Scientist-in-Charge (YBP) in Delhi, says that while urban bird watching has increased, people have also become more vigilant. “There is more activity because this is the breeding season for so many species of birds. With very little noise around us, it is easy for them to vocalize and call their companions, ”said Khudsar, adding that the noise above 20 decibels causes the birds to hide.

When Khudsar went out to buy milk on Tuesday, he even saw a shikra (a bird of prey) sitting next to the store, while other species such as black ibis, gray hornbill, white eye, green pigeon, pink-ringed parakeet and purple bird are now easily seen in neighborhoods.

The avian movement is pronounced between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the birds set out to find food for their newborn, said M. Shah Hussain, scientist in charge of the Aravalli Biodiversity Park, adding that species such as the red turtle dove, the red-mustached bulb, the Indian Treepie and the throat flycatcher Red are some rare birds that one can see around their houses now.

Brigadier Arvind Yadav has recorded 42 species of different birds in the past three days using binoculars as part of a domestic bird watching challenge. I have put in a bowl of water and a feeder, which attracts many species, said Yadav, who is staying at the Dhaula Kuan Army Enclave. Species recorded by him included the Eurasian hoopoe, the pond heron, the gray hornbill, the jungle quack, and the black kite.

In Noida, too, enthusiasts who visit bird sanctuaries and wetlands regularly, said they have been seeing some rare birds closer to home. Blacksmiths, sunbirds, parakeets have flocked to local parks, balconies and terraced gardens. We are getting to hear koels. Birds start singing early and can be heard throughout the day. Perhaps because there are no vehicles on the streets to drown out their voices, the birds are clearly audible, said Shashi, a resident of Sector 29.

The most visible at the moment are the bright solar birds, they say. I have seen almost 50 different species in the past few days. Since it is not possible to exit now, I have placed my camera on a tripod so that when the birds come, it can click. Various flowers are in bloom and the bird feeder has also been helpful. I've seen intermediate egrets and black-eared kites, ”said Anand Arya, a bird watcher, who has advice on inviting birds to balconies. Keep a trough, keep the balcony quiet, keep the plants in bloom, and wait.

Several residents have also seen birds that are generally only found in nearby sanctuaries or wetlands. “Boilermakers fly in flocks. It is unusual and wonderful, ”said Rakesh Khatri, a bird watcher and member of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). In Gurugram, with improved air quality, residents reported seeing rare birds such as chestnut-headed bee eaters, flycatchers of paradise, and pink starlings in their localities.

(With entries from Ipsita Pati in Gurugram)