Every year May 8 is celebrated as World Migratory Bird Day, a global celebration dedicated to raising awareness of birds and nature.
The theme for this year is Sing, Fly, Soar – Like a Bird! which is a unique way to inspire and reconnect people back to nature by actively listening to and watching birds from anywhere they are.
We can spot birds everywhere- from soaring high in the sky to the top of icy mountains to wetlands, forests, grasslands and even on balconies of our homes.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed the World Migratory Bird Day celebrations this year.
Instead of going out in numbers to the open spaces and bird watching points, bird lovers have been confined in watching and documenting birds in their backyards.
Several migratory birds undergo excruciating journeys and fly thousands of kilometres while some elevate to just a few hundred feet.
Birds migrate from one region to another to avoid harsh climate, search for food, and find nesting locations and these visits of the winged guests connect us with the diverse biodiversity of the planet.
Every year birds from 29 countries take a flight to India and we can spot large incoming flocks during September-October, marking the beginning of migration.
Approximately 1,349 species of birds have been recorded as of 2019.
Citing Indian government data, WWF reported 78 are endemic to the country and 212 species are globally threatened.
The World Migratory Bird Day 2021 became even more special for the northeast as it has been reported that the White-Bellied Heron- a rare and elusive bird- was spotted at Walong in the Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh recently.
"The bird was spotted and photographed by divisional forest officer (DFO) of Anjaw Santosh Kumar Reddy, range forest officer Nosing Pul and scientist Dekbin Yonggam earlier this month," The Wire reported.
The white-bellied heron is categorised as ‘critically endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data Book and is listed in Schedule IV in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
It is one of the rarest birds in the world and is at present found only in Bhutan, Myanmar and the Namdapha Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh.
It had also been recorded in the adjacent Kamlang Tiger Reserve in Lohit district in camera trap images.
The recent sighting at a height of 1,200 meters above sea level is a first at such a higher elevation in India.
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