Flocking together to help the farmer

Flocking together to help the farmer

Flocking together to help the farmer

Step into Bellary’s Hirekuravatthi village and you will invariably spot hundreds of birds descending on the village’s paddy fields.

Hirekuravatthi is incidentally famous for its Basavanna deity. The onset of the month of Shravana usually means hordes of devotees pour out into the streets.

It was on one such day recently that this writer spotted noisy egrets colonising a particular paddy field. The field the birds descended on belonged to farmer Ningappa Kariammanavar. The farmer was busy sowing paddy, reason for the birds to gather there.


Egrets are known to gather in huge numbers wherever there are agricultural tracts. They feed on insects and act as natural pesticides. No wonder then that they are known as a farmer’s best friends. Also, egrets keep bugs and pests away from cattle.

The birds have many sub-species including bubulcus ibis (commonly called cattle egret), mesophoyx intermedia (called the intermediate/median egret) and egretta garzetta (little egret). Cattle egrets are considered particularly useful birds as they remove ticks and flies from cattle. The birds are highly social species, according to expert N R Birsal.

The months between July and September are the time when the birds breed. Egrets can be found in many places in Bellary district. However, in recent times, these farmers’ friends are dwindling in numbers owing to poaching.