Not just people, smog affecting flight of migratory birds

Not just people, smog affecting flight of migratory birds

The choking smog engulfing parts of northern region has led to an unprecedented delay in the arrival of migratory birds to natural wetlands and sanctuaries in Punjab and Haryana.

It is feared that the delay may lead to a decline in the number of these winged visitors reaching their destinations this year.  

Experts opine that the high air pollutant levels may have led to migratory birds  changing  their path to other areas in search of destinations with cleaner air.  The influx of migratory birds has so far dropped by over 30% in wetlands and bird sanctuaries in the two northern states. Punjab and Haryana have a widespread problem of crop stubble burning, which leads to hazardous air quality in the region.

Destinations in the two states have always been flooded with migratory birds this time around. Environmentalists are hoping the phenomena sees a reversal in case the air quality improves in the coming few days. Last year, this time around at the Bhindawas bird sanctuary in Haryana's Jhajjar and other wetlands, officials had registered a count of up to 25,000 migratory birds. This year, so far less than 10,000 migratory birds have reached.

At the Keshopur Chhamb wetland near Gurdaspur in Punjab, widespread smog has delayed the arrival of these winged visitors who fly long distances across nations from Siberia, Russia etc. Official sources said against some 25,000-odd birds last year, the number is fewer than 6,000 so far. "Migratory birds may have changed course due to smog which may have led to the delay in arrival of these bird species. We hope the numbers pick up in the next few days," sources said.

Harike not hit

If officials are to be believed, only a few long distance migratory birds had arrived at Kapurthala's Kanjli's wetland until Monday. Interestingly, the famed Harike wetland in Punjab's Ferozpur is witnessing an encouraging arrival of migratory birds. The numbers here are likely to touch its optimal level as last year in the next few weeks. Thursday saw an overcast sky in many parts with chances of a thundershower. This may help matters.

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