By: Dr. Akhtar Nasim, Sr. Principal Scientist & Prof. CSIR-Academic, New Delhi & Consulting Editor-ICN Sci & Tech
NEW DELHI: Indore is a fast growing city in Madhya Pradesh-India. This city has majestic temples, insightful museums, lively bazaars, vibrant pubs and restaurants, and so much more. There are a few lakes nearby Indore. One of the largest lakes in Indore, Sirpur Lake is a huge man-made lake which was created in early 20th century by the Holkar royal family of the city. Its spread across 800 acres and the protected area surrounding it are home to more than 130 species of birds. During the winter season, the lake is visited by hundreds of migratory birds.
I visited Indore city for the first time in the year 2007 to attend a marriage ceremony. Booked a hotel near the Indore railway junction and in the evening went to see the city. I walked for about five to six miles, reached the centre of the city, near the old emperor palace. The sight there was mesmerizing. There were many flocks of parrots comprising different colors like red-green, yellow, white mixes with red and magenta flowing up and down. It seemed as some have touched the clouds and the gloom was reflected in the blue sky around the palace. There were huge number of trees, approximately hundred feet tall and they looked multi colored as they were full of parrots. Some parrots were singing song, while some others were chirping. Everywhere, there were flocks of parrots. The scene was simply breath taking. I got so lost observing the scene, that I forgot that I had to attend a marriage ceremony. I returned back to my hotel around 11pm and decided to extend my stay for two more days. Every night I observed the pattern of birds in the city and it changed my concept; it gave a new mission to know about the birds of this city.
Since then every two to three years, I went to see them, feel them and study them, over the years I observed that what looks beautiful from outside is having a dark side also. The real story behind the beautiful scene really shook me; these beautiful parrots that form rainbows on the trees are actually there to survive themselves. These parrots actually reside around 10 km away from the city near a Sirpur lake, but due to lack of food there, they migrate to the city in search of it.
Elderly people of Indore city have a habit of putting grain and water for parrots on the floor or the canopy of their homes. This is now the main source of food for the parrots. Now, since it becomes difficult for them to fly the distance of 20 km every day, they take refuge in the trees. The number of parrots is so high as compared to number of trees, so a single tree becomes the home of numerous parrots. Now, this situation is detrimental for the parrots, as the parrots sit upon one other overcrowding the place. The situation is equally dangerous for the trees, as when the trees dry and shed their leaves, for the new leaves to appear, the parrots sit on these trees and damage the new leaves, resulting the drying of the trees.
Climate of Indore is very hot in summer season. Water problem is common in Madhya Pradesh due to lack of water. So, the growth of tree is a challenging task. On the other hand, due to the development of new infrastructure, cutting of trees are common. After cutting of trees, shifting of parrots on other trees is common anf it’s the main reason of pitiable condition of parrots. Another trends of birds have been absorbed that in night big birds like eagle sleep on the trees of one side of the road, while parrots sleep on the trees of other side the road; this is a good example of bio-diversity. In the interview with the shopkeepers, it was revealed that since their childhood they were observing the same behavior of birds, during day time all types of birds sit together, but at night, they don’t like sharing their space.
Woodland living is a natural habitat of the birds while urban living is by default. In woodland, there is complete darkness during night with no sound and vibration, which makes it a better place for the birds to sleep, while in urban environment, there is completely different situation. There are lights, noises and vibration which result in sleep deprivation and disturbances. The birds may be highly affected by the physical structure of urban areas too. The structure of the acoustic environment, the background noise both plays an important role in signal adaptation of the birds.
Parrots communicate through voice and its amplitude. Due to high background noise in the urban areas, the birds adjust the frequency structure of their vocalization and its amplitude; as a result parrots consumes more energy. It has been observed that male parrots adapt to this urban environment where as females don’t, males in urban areas adjust the frequency of their vocalizations to avoid masking by noise, since females do not adapt to the changes it becomes difficult for them to determine and recognize an appropriate potential mate. There may also be difficulty in recognizing; flight calls, food calls, calls amongst offspring, calls between parents and offspring and even amongst the flock mates.
Ministry of Environment & forest has framed a guideline that the new proposed township should have adequate number of trees to sustain the growth of these birds or create an environment to provide ample space for them. Planned habitation will provide food as well as shelter for these birds. Such initiative will help the birds to shift to a calmer areas. It will not only save the birds but will also save the trees in the city which are dying due to overcrowding by the birds. Sirpur Lake should be developed keeping in mind that birds live there with sufficient availability of natural food and water.