Climate change: In a first, Scientists at WII track Pied Cuckoo’s migration pattern; details

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Published: July 25, 2020 2:54 PM

Terming 'site fidelity' as an essential feature of the pied cuckoos, Dr Suresh Kumar, a scientist with WII’s department of Endangered Species Management told the Indian Express that the birds come back to the same location every year because they have high site fidelity.

He also said that it is widely believed that the bird comes to India from some part of Africa but no exact location has been ascertained due to lack of data. (Photo credit: The Indian Express)

A first of its kind study to trace migration pattern of pied cuckoo birds underway! In an attempt to decipher changes in the monsoon patterns and other climate conditions, the Wildlife Institute of India(WII) along with the Indian Institute of Remote Sending (IIRS) has begun a study on the migration of the pied cuckoo, which will entail tracing the path taken by the bird through different seasons and regions across the world. In the process, satellite transmitters have been attached with two of the pied cuckoo birds, This will help the scientists trace and understand the route taken by the bird in consonance with the changes in the monsoon winds , erratic rainfall, seasonal fluctuations, water vapour pressure and other climate changes, according to a report by IE.

In the first of its kind study, the scientists chose the pied cuckoo because the bird’s arrival has traditionally been associated with the onset of the monsoon. The bird is also known by other names including Clamator jacobinus and Jacobin Cuckoo. The researchers attached the transmitter chips, manufactured by Microwave Telemetry(an American company specialised in such Wildlife Satellite Tracking technology) only last week on two of the birds which will track their movement and bring salient insights on the issue of climate change.

Terming ‘site fidelity’ as an essential feature of the pied cuckoos, Dr Suresh Kumar, a scientist with WII’s department of Endangered Species Management told the Indian Express that the birds come back to the same location every year because they have high site fidelity. He also said that it is widely believed that the bird comes to India from some part of Africa but no exact location has been ascertained due to lack of data.

He also explained that in contrast to the pied cuckoo birds found in some southern states of the country, the pied cuckoo birds which supposedly come from Africa are migratory birds while the former are resident birds. He further said that the pied cuckoo is one of the very few birds that comes to India during the summer months unlike most migratory birds who frequent the country during winters only. Most migratory birds are believed to travel from extreme climate regions of the world to the moderate climate regions by way of migration from one part of the world to another. Kumar said that most migratory birds arrive in India from colder places like Russia, Mongolia, Eastern China, Siberia among others.

Dr. Kumar said that the information about the migratory route of the pied cuckoo would be invaluable for research on climatic variations occurring across the world. He also said that traditionally farmers used to rely on the arrival of the bird before sowing the seeds and the signal never used to be wrong as the bird rides on the Monsoon wind. The research is part of a larger project known as Indian Bioresource Information Network (IBIN) which is being funded by the central government’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

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