Neelkanth (Indian roller bird)

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Neelkanth (Indian roller bird)

Threats to existence

Harveer Dabas, This Dussehra, 'lucky' blue bird goes missing, October 1, 2017: The Times of India

Sighting a neelkanth -the Indian roller bird Lord Ram is said to have spotted as he embarked upon his journey to kill Ravana -is considered auspicious on Dussehra day .While the blue bird made its appearance in WhatsApp, it has gone missing in wildlife-rich Bijnor.

The neelkanth, which is another name of Shiva, is revered by Hindus. In north India, there's a saying when people spot it: “Neelkanth tum neele rahiyo, dudh bhaat ka bhoj kariyo, hamri baat Ram se kahiyo (Neelkanth, you stay blue, feast on rice and milk and convey our wishes to Ram).“ In southern states, where its density is 50 birds per sq ndian roller is the sta km, the Indian roller is the state bird of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana. A few years ago, sighting a neelkanth was common in Bijnor. Until last year, birdcatchers used to capture and take them door-to-door on Dussehra to make some money. However, local residents say they haven't seen a bird even in captivity this year. Divisional forest officer M Semmaran told TOI, “It's dwindling because farmers use large amounts of pesticides in fields. We are trying to create awareness about the need to save the bird.“ Ironically , the bird is considered a friend of farmers as it feeds on insects.

Experts say felling of old trees could also be a factor.Wildlife enthusiast Rajat Bhargava blames the disappearance of nesting sites.“Indian rollers nest in old tall trees and choose a cavity in the trunk to lay their eggs.However, large-scale felling has resulted in the destruction of their natural habitat, forcing them to fly away.“

The Ganga Barrage in Bijnor is home to a large population of indigenous and migratory birds. Stretches of the Ganga, Peeli Dam, Harevli lake, Sherkot and Afzalgarh areas here are ideal habitats for migratory birds like the northern shoveller, pintail, gadwall, painted stork, woolly-necked stork, crane, teal and shelduck.

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