BENGALURU: The recent death of a winter raptor from Russia, the Osprey, in Ilkal, Bagalkot taluk, has raised serious concerns with migratory birds falling prey to power lines and wind turbines. Two Russian researchers visited the spot in Ilkal and tracked the male raptor with the help of a local birder. Serzhik, the satellite collared raptor, had travelled more than 5,000km to India to pass the winter. Unfortunately, it died while flying in Karnataka.
A tagged Osprey couple reportedly reached India in October with the female (Usina) nesting and breeding near a wetland in Udaipur while the male (Serzhik) proceeded further to Madhya Pradesh and further down to Karnataka. Bird researchers had installed satellite linked collars to study the reasons for its declining population in Russia. The bird had a collar in the leg with a solar powered transmitter on its backside. The Ospreys usually migrate to India unable to bear the harsh winters back home.
Russian scientists – Igor Karyakin and Elena Shikalova – who visited Ilkal to know the reasons for its death was assisted by Sadik Kanakagiri, a birder. Sadik told TNIE, “We actually searched for the bird for nine hours and later found its feathers and wings in a remote location near Vajjal village. It was evident it had fallen foul to the windmills that are installed here. Further, its body had been devoured either by a wolf or a fox. During the winter season, we see 6-7 bird species frequenting this region and many of them are rare and need total protection.”
Sadik said that the rare raptor was unable to bear the wind turbulence in an area that has many windmills and it later sat on a high transmission line where it was electrocuted. “The details of its path in India were recorded in the satellite tag.”Sujith Shettar, another birder, said, “Many bird deaths happen in these regions which see the visit of rare winter migrants.
There is a total lack of support for tracking birding activity and birds have not been collared or tagged in this place. So not much information is available about birds flocking here from other countries.”Indian and Russian bird researchers have concluded that winter migrants may be falling prey to power lines and other infrastructure in India, resulting in their declining populations.
A migrant raptor
A huge bird with a wing span of 3-5 feet, it feeds on fish. Ospreys migrate to India from Russia to escape the harsh winters. The birds that breed further east in Russia usually migrate South to coastal Arabia and the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia. Research has shown that Ospreys migrate alone and the offspring faces a great challenge of not only endurance but also navigation.