National Birds Day 2024

News Excerpt: 

Over a million birds belonging to 184 species visit Odisha’s Chilika lake.

National Birds Day 2024

The United States of America declares January 5 as National Bird Day to raise awareness of the significance of birds to our ecosystem. 

  • The theme of the National Birds Day 2024 is ‘Right To Fight’. It signifies the flight of a bird that represents freedom.
    • The day is set apart to make all of us understand that birds are not made to be caught or had as showpieces in our homes, rather, they are nature’s lovely creatures that deserve to live with complete freedom.  
  • History: National Birds Day has been celebrated in America since 2002. This date was picked in light of the fact that it likewise is the day for the yearly Christmas Bird Count.  
  • The day was first observed by the Avian Welfare Coalition, which is involved in the cause of promoting awareness about birds that are caught or end up in captivity for either monetary profit or for human entertainment.

About Migratory Birds In Chillika

  • The Chilika Wildlife Division conducted the yearly bird census on Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon on January 4, 2024. 
  • Almost 6,000 more birds were spotted compared to last year, including a rare Pallas fish eagle seen after a decade. 
  • This year, 1,137,759 migratory birds belonging to 184 species were spotted at Chilika lake, as compared to 1,131,929 birds belonging to 184 species counted in 2023.
  • The Nalabana island or Nalabana Bird Sanctuary inside the lake continued to be the most popular destination for the winged guests. 
    • A total of  347,280 birds were sighted in Nalabana Sanctuary, compared to 342,797 in 2023. 
    • Among the pintail species of ducks, the Northern Pintail (218,650), Gadwall (156,636) and Eurasian Wigeon (140,322) were spotted.
    • The lake witnesses birds from as far as Central Asia and Europe every winter, with tourists and birdwatchers thronging to the waterbody in the season. 

Reason for migratory birds to Chilika Lake:

The winged visitors started arriving in Chilika in November, as the lake presented them with a comparatively hospitable alternate habitat compared to the extreme freezing conditions in their natural habitats in Siberia, China, Japan and other countries in the northern hemisphere.

  • The wetland also offers the winged visitors an abundant feeding ground full of fish, prawns, frogs, snakes and molluscs.
  • It is also located at a distance from human habitats. 

Chilika Lake

  • Chilika Lake is a brackish water lake and a shallow lagoon with estuarine character spread across the districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam in the state of Odisha in eastern India. 
  • Fed by 52 rivers and rivulets, the water spread area of Chilika varies between 900 to 1165 sq. km. during summers and monsoon respectively. 
  • Chilika lake spreads across the Daya river’s Mouth.
  • The pear-shaped lagoon is about 64.5 km. long and its width varies from 5 to 18 km. 
  • It is connected to the Bay of Bengal by a 32 km long and 1.5 km wide channel that mostly runs parallel to the Bay separated by a narrow spit whose width varies between 100 m to several kilometers.
  • The lagoon can be broadly divided into four ecological sectors based on salinity and depth, namely the southern zone, the central zone, the northern zone and the outer channel. A number of islands are present in the lagoon, prominent among which are Krushnaprasad, Nalaban, Kalijai, Somolo and Birds Islands.
  • As per the 2013 census, about 150 dolphins are found here and is, therefore, considered as the largest lagoon supported population of the World. 
  • The seagrass meadows of the lake are expanding in spite of anthropogenic pressure, which is a sign of a healthy ecosystem.
  • It is the largest wintering ground of migratory birds in the Indian sub-continent and supports about 225 species at different parts of their life cycle. 
  • It is one of the hotspots of biodiversity in the country, and some rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened Animals inhabit the Lake area for at least part of their life cycle. 
  • On account of its rich biodiversity, Chilika lake was designated as a "Ramsar Site", i.e. a wetland of International Importance. 
  • The Nalaban Island within the lake is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The island disappears during monsoon season due to inundation, only to emerge again post-monsoon.
  • It is under the UNESCO World Heritage site.

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