"It is good to have an end to journey toward;
But it is the journey that matters, in the end"
Trust the Arctic tern to take Hemingway literally. This spunky red-billed bird dons its black captain's cap and flies from pole-to-pole in a display of reckless valor and fantastic spirit producing one of the most extraordinary annual migrations on this planet. Flying an unbelievable 90,000km from their Arctic breeding grounds to Antartica and back again (Whew!), Arctic terns depend on nourishment from mostly marine invertebrates and insects that they hawk on the wing.
Barn Swallows are cosmopolitan birds and like the new-age Indian have either established societies or favorite holiday haunts across most of the world. They make solid cup-shaped nests of mud pellets that jut out from mundane walls of human construction. A non-breeding migrant population visits the subcontinent every winter, their chirping calls resonating across the agricultural landscape. A small population is resident in the Himalayas.
Pied Cuckoos are partial migrants (and no, they don’t change their minds halfway through the migration). Partial migration merely implies that some populations are resident, while others migrate, in this case, all the way from eastern Africa. The bird is immortalized in Indian mythology as 'Chaatak' and the tale of how it sits with its beak open waiting for the first rains features in most school-level Sanskrit textbooks.
The Rosy Pastor (Rosy Starling) is a winter visitor to India, its highly gregarious flocks often outnumbering resident myna species. They are wonderful pest control agents, and Chinese farmers breed them through artificial nests on farms to control destructive locust swarms.
Ramblings on wildlife sharing spaces with non-wild humans