World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated twice every year — on May 14 and October 8. For this year, the theme of the Day was ‘light pollution’, as artificial light, which is globally increasing every year, is known to adversely affect bird species, leading to disorientation when they fly at night. As we look forward to a better co-existing space with the flora and fauna around us, here are some popular bird sanctuaries in the world to visit.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is now known as Keoladeo National Park. It is one of the world’s most important breeding and feeding grounds for birds. In the 1850s, the sanctuary was used as a royal hunting reserve for maharajas and the British. Lord Linlithgow, who was the viceroy of India from 1936 to 1943, is said to have shot more than a thousand ducks in a day along with his hunting party. However, in 1982, Keoladeo became a national park and in 1985, UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage Site. More than 370 species of birds and animals can be found in the park. Today, a number of bird watchers, trekkers visit the park to spot rare species of birds like the Siberian crane.
Harry Gibbons Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Harry Gibbons Migratory Bird Sanctuary is situated in Hudson Bay on Southampton Island in Canada. Its establishment was proposed in 1957 by the Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment Canada). This was done to protect the area which is an important site for lesser snow goose. Most of the geese nest around the Boas River delta, as the grassy islands provide an abundance of place for nesting. Other important bird species found here include Atlantic brant, cackling goose, Ross’s goose, common eider, king eider, long-tailed duck and tundra swan.
Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
Kuala Lumpur Bird Park in Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens is home to more than 200 species of 3,000 local and foreign birds. It is spread in approximately 20.9 acres and the park is divided into four zones – the first two make up the free-flight zone, Zone 3 is the Hornbill Park and in Zone 4, birds are placed in separate cages and mini aviaries. The first three zones resemble the natural habitats of birds and they are left free there in order to be able to survive and breed naturally.
Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary
Chilika Lake is a salt-water lake and a shallow lagoon spread across the districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam in Odisha. It is fed by 52 rivers and rivulets and its waterspread area varies between 900 and 1165 sq km in summers and monsoon, respectively. The lagoon has a number of islands, including Krushnaprasad, Nalaban, Kalijai, Somolo and Birds Islands. Over 800 species, including rare, endangered and threatened species were recorded at Chilika during a survey in 1985-87. It is also a flamingo breeding ground and has species of animals like blackbuck, golden jackals, spotted deer and hyenas. Aviaries like Love Aviary house Indian ring-necked parakeets, Brahminy Land houses Brahminy Kites, Flamingo Pond has flamingos, Bulbul Land houses bulbuls and so on. Once can also indulge in activities like bird feeding, bird show, boat ride and more.
Jiahu Jurong Bird Park
One of Singapore’s most iconic and oldest attractions, Jurong Bird Park is home to 3,500 birds like parrots, flamingos, eagles, penguins. Recently, the park announced shutting down after 50 years. However, it will be joining Singapore Zoo and Night Safari to make for an eco-tourism hub in northern Singapore. The new Mandai eco hub will reopen in 2023.
Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary
Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary is located in the Senegal rive delta and is a wetland of 16,000 hectares. It also comprises a lake surrounded by ponds, backwaters and streams. It homes about 1.5 million birds like white pelican, purple heron, African spoonbill, the great egret, the cormorant and a variety of migrant birds. In earlier days, seasonal floods and influx of oceanic salt water had alternate cycles at the sanctuary. However, this was corrected with the construction of upstream and downstream. Its range of wetland habitats are a big draw for migratory birds, especially those who cross the Sahara. Pelicans and flamingos are the most commonly found species in the sanctuary.
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, located in Kottayam district in Kerala, is one of the most popular bird watching spots in India. It is spread over 14 hectares and has a number of rare avian species. It is situated on the banks of Vembanad Lake in Kottayam, and thousands of migratory birds are seen flocking together. June and August are the best times to visit the sanctuary as it is the breeding season of birds like Indian Darter, Little Cormorant, species of egrets and herons, White Ibis and others.