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Siberian Cranes Return to Danapur Cantt, Bringing Vibrancy and Ecological Significance

By Neeraj Kumar

Patna: For the past 25 days, the Danapur Cantt area of Patna has been graced by the presence of the ‘Janghil’, also known as the Siberian Crane. These migratory birds, often seen as harbingers of the monsoon, have brought life and vibrancy to the area with their arrival. Their melodious chirping fills the air, signaling the onset of the rainy season.

Siberian Cranes, striking in their white and black plumage, weigh between two to three kilograms and primarily feed on small fish and aquatic insects. The local population observes that the birds feel safe in the cantonment area, where they easily find food and water from the nearby Ganges River. The cranes nest in the trees within the cantonment, breed for several months, and then return to Siberia with their young.

The arrival of these birds each year marks the beginning of the monsoon season, bringing joy and excitement to the local residents. The Danapur area effectively becomes a bird sanctuary during this time, with the presence of the Siberian Cranes and Janghils enhancing the natural beauty and playing a crucial role in the local ecosystem.

Bird experts note that the history of Janghils migrating to this region is long, although concrete evidence is sparse. Known also as the Open Bill Stork, these birds arrive in large flocks, attracted by the region’s conducive environment. Interestingly, the Siberian Crane served as a symbol of the Indian Army from 1963 to 1971.

Visually striking, these birds appear painted in shades of white, pink, and black, with a distinctive pink curved beak. They are especially captivating when seen in the Gharaana wetland, where their vibrant colors stand out. While Janghils gather in various wetlands across the country, their presence in Patna and Danapur is particularly noteworthy.

Ornithologists highlight that Asian Open Bill Storks, typically traveling in groups for food, are a spectacular sight in flight. Their behaviors and movements are a topic of fascination among bird watchers. Military officials in the cantonment area often observe these birds constructing new nests for their offspring. The Siberian Crane, declared a protected species in India, has been visiting various Indian states for breeding over the past 40 years.

Hunting or capturing Siberian Cranes is illegal, reflecting their protected status. Originally from Siberia, these birds now spend six months in North India and six months in South India, breeding twice a year and laying two to four eggs each time. Their primary diet includes snails, fish, and earthworms. Since 2005, their numbers have seen a rapid increase.

During the rainy and winter seasons, Patna becomes a temporary home for many foreign and migratory birds. The chirping of these avian visitors enlivens the entire Secretariat premises, attracting people from nearby areas. As winter approaches, birds from North America, Central Eurasia, North Africa, and Southeast Asia flock to the region. Currently, the Rajdhani reservoir hosts around 50 Gadwal birds, characterized by their muddy color and light brown heads. Weighing between one to one and a half kilograms, these birds prefer living in pairs and feeding on algae.

The annual visit of the Siberian Cranes and other migratory birds underscores the ecological significance of Patna and its surrounding areas, highlighting the need for continued conservation efforts to protect these beautiful creatures and their habitats.

The author is a Patna based journalist

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