Winter Capital- How Khichan, a village in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district, came to host demoiselle cranes
Daily quest- Demoiselle cranes (Anthropoides virgo) migrate from central Asia to avoid the region’s freezing winters and make India and Africa their home from September to March. In India, they stay in marshy areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat, but do not nest or breed, which happens in central Asia. The flocks that migrate have juveniles, who learn about the global wintering grounds from their visit. Over 20,000 demoiselle cranes migrate to India every year. The global population of the bird species, which at about 90 cm is the smallest of all cranes, is estimated to be around 250,000.
Chugga Ghar- An over 5,000 square metre open ground in the middle of Khichan village has been a feeding ground (chugga ghar) of birds for over four decades. Between 1979 and 1983, a storage house for the feed and a boundary wall or mesh was constructed around the ground to prevent entry of stray dogs. Local bird enthusiasts, foreign tourists and wildlife photographers frequent the place round the year, but especially between September and March.
Watering Hole- Demoiselle cranes fly to Khichan village from their wintering grounds in nearby areas at sunrise, gathering at watering holes, like this pond on the western periphery of the village. Once the feed is scattered on the ground, the birds fly in to eat and fly out, as other cranes arrive. The cycle continues till around noon.
Grain Sprawl- Though Khichan gained spotlight mainly due to demoiselle cranes, the bird is not the only one the village cares for. Scattering of bird feed goes on round the year; the volume, however, peaks with the arrival of the cranes in September, when even 1,000 kg of feed gets consumed in a day.
In Charge- Sewaram Mali Parihar is the self-appointed caretaker of the chugga ghar for the past 25 years. A resident of Khichan village, Parihar’s house is near the feeding ground.
(News Source -Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Times Of Nation staff and is published from a www.downtoearth.org.in feed.)
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