Things that make you to Think
The story, published in Morning Tea, tells about the Migratory Birds in Bangladesh, their journey and the man-made problems threatening the species.
Winter is here! In Bangladesh, for some people it brings along the hardships of life while some celebrate the joys of the season. However, for the birds in the more inhospitable regions of the planet, winters can be far too grueling for them to sustain, and as a result, they are forced to migrate to tropical countries like Bangladesh.
Thus, before the start of each winter these migratory birds start their arduous journey half way around the world to reach a suitable destination; often without any stops along the way.
For the birds, Bangladesh is one such destination that provides the best ecological combination and habitat for feeding and breeding in the temperate winters of the country.
“Among 700 species of birds in Bangladesh, there are 300 species that migrate every year to our country; most of them from the Himalaya while some are from Siberia, Europe, Central Asia and Northern Asian regions. The excessive chill and snowfall that takes place in those countries during winter force the birds to move in search of a more habitable place,” said Dr Monirul Hasan Khan, bird expert and professor at the Zoology department in Jahangirnagar University.
“We do see some species of migratory birds in our country in summer as well, but the numbers are much higher during the winter,” he added.
The places where migratory birds gather are Sundarbans, Hakaluki haor, Tanguar haor, Durga Sagor of Barisal, Cholon beel, Arial beel, Gopalgonj-Khulna beel and Kaptai Lake in Chittagong.
In Dhaka city, migratory birds can be found at the National Zoo and Botanical Garden, Bangabhaban compound, Ceramic Lake (Mirpur), Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI) and Jahangirnagar University campus.
However, among all these locations, JU campus is the most popular destination for the people who love to enjoy the charm, beauty and chattering sounds of thousands of birds in the several lakes situated around the university campus.
“Among the 300 species of migratory birds, around 50 species are very common, and can be found in tens of thousands,” Dr Monirul Hasan Khan said to this reporter.
As a result, every winter, 4 or 5 of the biggest lakes around the campus become crowded with thousands of these migratory birds, creating a picturesque environment for JU students and teachers. Moreover, every
time these migratory birds come over, the JU campus witnesses a high influx of casual visitors, bird lovers and researchers. To celebrate the arrival of these migratory birds, the JU Zoology department has decided to observe a ‘Bird Fair’ in January, 2013.
“It is a great gift to our campus. Everyday, from morning to evening we enjoy the presence of these birds. Hundreds of visitors come as well, including many children, for whom it is an unprecedented experience,” said a JU English department student, Abdur Rouf.
Migratory Birds in Bangladesh
There are two types of migratory birds that come to Bangladesh – the wetland-dependent birds and the shoreland-dependent birds.
Various species of ducks that migrate include, Northern Pintail, Northern Shovelar, Ruddy Shelduck, and Combo duck etc, while Manikjor, Jolpipi, Chitatupi, Lal Gurguti, Kaste, Chotok, Khonjon, Cha Pakhi, Kada Khocha, Badami Kosai, Neelpakha are the most common.
Migratory birds which come in during the winter season do not breed here; however, the summer migratory birds do breed here and later raise their offsprings. The preferred time for the migratory birds to arrive in the country starts from September, these patterns remain throughout the winter season, and they stay in the country up till the final week of March, after which they fly back to their natural habitats.
The Journey of Migration
The entire process of their migration is still a mystery, and researchers are still trying to find out how these birds know their final destination, and what strategies they use to identify their route. Latest experiments indicate that they use the Earth’s magnetic field as a special positioning system as they have special receptors in their eyes.
Dr Monirul said to this reporter, “Exactly how these migrating birds navigate is not yet fully understood. But it is also said that they can recognise their path by identifying the land markings, or they also could know their path by using the movement of the sun, moon and the stars.”
The years, increasing temperatures, changing vegetations and extreme weather conditions have led to significant changes in the birds’ essential habitats and food resources.
They also urge that, although Bangladesh is also greatly affected by climate change, the first step to protect these birds is to stop the human induced problems. If this primary problem can be addressed to, it will serve as a great positive step to redressing the larger issues at hand.
Many people kill or capture migratory birds either by poisoning them or by setting a net trap. Then these people illegally sell the birds at a high price. In order to save the lives of migratory birds, it is crucial that people begin to address this problem as well.
“Our campus is safe for the migratory birds. But mass awareness should be created to save the migratory birds in other parts of the country as well,” said Arif Hossain from JU’s Zoology department.
Importance and Values
The importance of migratory birds stems from their aesthetical value. People have always been fascinated and inspired by the phenomenon of bird migration, and bird admirers can find their visit to these areas as a form of recreation. It refreshes the mind and provides visual delight for visitors.
Secondly, migratory birds contribute in maintaining the natural balance of the wetland and forests by eating various snails and insects.
“If they do not migrate to our country, our ecosystem will be destroyed and the natural balance will be disrupted,” said Dr Monirul.
In addition he pointed out, “Migratory birds are like a bank for our future if we can make them endemic into the domestic environment. It can be an earning source for us.”
Another interesting fact about the birds is that for many cultures they represent different symbolic meanings. In ancient Greece the bird of Athena represented the renewal of life. During the era of the Pharoas in Egypt, the falcon was thought to have protective powers and was linked to royalty while for the Native Americans birds were believed to be auspicious and linked to the concepts of unity, freedom, community, safe return, love and celebration of life.