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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Kingfishers ‘shifting’ to concrete jungle to survive


INDORE: With their natural habitats disappearing at an alarming rate, several birds in Indore have been adapting to the human settlements. The latest addition to the list is white throated kingfisher.


According to ornithologist Ajay Gadikar, a pair of white-throated kingfisher was spotted nesting in a building near Radisson hotel, one of the densely populated areas of the city. This is a first time such a behavioral change has been noted among these birds in the city.


Gadikar, who has been observing these birds for more than a month now, said usually kingfisher nests are found near river banks or other water bodies. "Their nests are horizontal holes dug into the side of an earth cutting or a river bank and are about three inches in diameter and often 1 to 3 feet in length" said he.


However, displaying a drastic change in its behavior, the birds were found nesting in a hole on third floor of a residential building at a height of nearly 12 meters from ground and with apparently no water body present nearby. The birds that generally nest on the onset of monsoon seem to have changed their breeding behaviour too and have started breeding much before the season.


Gadikar said the male and female birds were seen near nest site the whole day. "They were entering the nest frequently suggesting they were incubating their eggs."


The white-throated kingfisher has a prominent beak adapted to catch fish which is similar to other kingfishers. However, with the lack of sea food in the city, it has started feeding on lizards, mice, frogs, dragonflies, grasshoppers and small perching birds found in the urban areas.


TOI had earlier reported that birds like Indian eagle owl, Indian grey hornbill, red-wattled lapwing had also started adapting to the changed conditions.


While some birds in absence of trees and wetlands have made concrete houses their homes, some that do not get natural material to make their nests are using material like plastic threads, electric wires and paper for the same.


"All these changes show that these birds are struggling to survive in the city. If they do not adapt to the changing conditions, they would disappear from the city like sparrows," Gadikar said.

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