October 12, 2013
We must admit that, the very purpose of writing an article in Daijiworld is to inspire School Children, Youngsters, Students and Nature lovers to make conservation their top priority. However, this time though, we were inspired to write about the local bird species commonly observed in and around Mangalore City because of the very many responses by way of comments, emails and phone calls from well wishers when it came to highlighting the beautiful birds in our backyard. (The Bird in your Backyard - Bronze Winged Jacana).
Many have taken time to write or call us on the many bird discoveries that they have done. Some elders have called up to say that they are now in a position to identify a few of the local birds by ear, merely by listening to their distinctive calls, whistles, and in some cases by their flight pattern. A few schools and Colleges have evinced keen interest in mapping the bird fauna of South Kanara District, as a project. This is a clear indication that the enthusiasm of nature lovers for birding is growing.
We are glad that common citizens are beginning to realize that conservation is every body's business and nature loving citizens can play a pivotal role in policy matters concerning protection of wildlife.
This time around, we bring you pictures of the Black crowned Night Heron or simply called the Night Heron with a range that spans five continents. The scientific name Nycticorax means "Night Raven" and refers to the species nocturnal habits. The Night Heron is the most widespread heron in the world, with a very large population in the Western Ghats. We have deliberately selected this bird because of the very many advantages in terms of regular sighting in almost all aquatic habitats in and around Mangalore and the bird's friendly behavior. Unlike any other bird, the Night Heron is commonly observed even during the daytime and is never shy of humans. In fact, once you understand the bird's behavior, it allows you to photograph the bird at close quarters. We have, once again, provided pictures of the bird right from the juvenile (Young) stage to various stages of growth so that people learn to appreciate the distinctive color patterns, which help the bird to survive from predators.
The Night Heron is a typical backyard bird. It is a fact that this bird is called NIGHT HERON because it feeds throughout the night, right up to dawn. Hence it is commonly referred to as the Night heron. Unlike other Herons it is a night feeder in order to avoid competition with day Herons (Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Indian Pond Heron, and Little Green Heron). However to our utter surprise we have noticed hundreds of Night herons feeding throughout the day, along with a number of other bird species like White breasted water fowl, common sandpiper, and all types of egrets. We have noticed this behavior for more than a year and would request Professors, Students and their respective guides to make a study on the day and night behavior of the Night Heron. In doing our little bit for nature, we aid in the conservation effort, especially by collecting a wide spread body of data, which may be unavailable in text books or the web.
We have a few suggestions to make with respect to this beautiful bird. We request school children and students to spend time in observing the eating habits of this particular bird. Just to give you a clue, unlike most other storks and Herons, the Night Heron is an opportunistic feeder, and prefers to feed especially in shallow water. It grasps its prey with its bill instead of stabbing it. Another area of research could be in understanding the social behavior of black crowned Night Herons, because they are known to associate with other species of herons and other aquatic birds frequently. Students of Zoology can try to understand the population dynamics, mainly because the population of many aquatic birds was on the decline and was attributed to the indiscriminate use of banned chemicals like DDT & Endosulphan. Rest assured that the status of these populations is indicative of environmental quality.
At this time of the year, the Night Heron, flock in wetland habitats or canals. Hundreds of birds will suddenly appear in an area where food waste is present, only to vanish when the food is exhausted. It scavenges on fish and meat.
Black crowned Night Herons inhabit various fresh and saltwater wetland habitats. Young birds start to breed at two years of age. Like most herons, they nest in colonies, often mixed with other species. Night herons are presumed to be monogamous (Partners for life). Adult Black-crowned Night-Herons apparently do not distinguish between their own young and those from other nests, and will brood chicks not their own. Overall, populations are stable. It is important to note that because of their wide distribution and feeding habits, this bird is an excellent indicator of ecosystem health.
Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira - Archives