Migratory birds make it to empty JU campus

Bird experts forecast largest ever gathering this year

JU correspondent | Published: 00:29, Nov 16,2020


Hundreds of migratory birds fly over a lake at Jahangirnagar University in Dhaka on Sunday. — Sony Ramany

Guest birds have started arriving lakes and ponds of Jahangirnagar University a little early this year only to find that their picturesque winter holiday home is unusually calm and welcoming.

Birdwatchers have already reported the arrival of nine out of 15 species of migratory birds that usually visit the university water bodies during winter.

The university is closed since the COVID-19 has broken out in March and there is almost no one to disturb the birds with their calls reverberating through the unusually silent campus from morning till afternoon.

‘We are very excited at the prospect of seeing the highest ever number of migratory birds this winter,’ said Monwar Hossain, an ornithologist who teaches zoology at the university.

The day and night temperatures have already started falling with the weather forecast saying that winter is likely to set in early this year.

‘The birds could not ask for more. There is no noise and they are comfortable in the rapidly falling temperature,’ said Monwar.

The species that have already spotted in water bodies include Chhota Sarali, Bara Sarali, Cotton Pygmy Goose (Balihansh), Pochard (Bhulihansh), Darters (Snake bird), Pintail Duck and Flycatcher.

Guest birds like to fly around the campus, travel from a lake to another, and attempt to fly from the surface of the lakes in flocks of hundreds making a resounding thud.

The way they make their magnificent touchdown on the campus lakes would have attracted hundreds of visitors if it was normal winter with no restriction on movement in place.

Jahangirnagar University lakes are rich in food for birds that spend their night eating. The day is their time to rest, relax and hang around.

Monwar said that the university this year is more careful than ever before to ensure that the birds find the university fit for their winter time outing.

He said that the university had already conserved many of its lakes.

When birds arrive, the university authorities fence lake shores and take special care about keeping the environment in a state in which birds have abundant food.

The university has put up sings carrying instructions at places on the campus this year to remind birdwatchers and visitors the best way to act while enjoying the magnificent winter birds without disturbing them.

The university hosts a bird fair every year to raise awareness about birds.

The fair offers bird sighting events with birdwatchers offering the visitors a glimpse into the lives of these magnificent winged creatures.

Whether the bird fair is to be held this year depends on the success of the coronavirus pandemic, said the teacher.

‘Let us not lose our hope,’ said the university’s Zoology professor Kamrul Hasan, also the convener of the bird fair.

While waiting for the coronavirus pandemic to go, the bird fair organisers are preparing a backup plan so that bird enthusiasts will not have to miss the cherished moment of knowing birds.

‘We may organise the fair online if the situation does not improve,’ said Kamrul.

Jahangirnagar University never looked so natural with least minimum human intervention to nature over the last ten months. 

The university has taken on a kind of a wild look and the birds must feel at home.

Want stories like this in your inbox?

Sign up to exclusive daily email