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Back In the Fold: Bengaluru Birds Return Home as Covid-19 Lockdown Reduces Air Pollution

Birds from swift to peacocks to koels have been seen and heard in large numbers after the lockdown measures have started to show effect in many parts of Bengaluru. (Image credit: Chandrashekar)

Birds from swift to peacocks to koels have been seen and heard in large numbers after the lockdown measures have started to show effect in many parts of Bengaluru. (Image credit: Chandrashekar)

People have spotted peafowls in various places in Bengaluru including Lalbagh Botanical Garden which is the largest green patch of the state capital.

“If you have a habit of waking up multiple times at night, you better keep a piece of paper and a pen by your bedside. In the calmness of the darkest hour, you may just hear a ‘koel’ sing. Just look at your watch, scribble the time and go back to sleep,” suggests a very enthusiastic Dr MB Krishna, an ornithologist in Bengaluru who has been fascinated by the birds and their lives since childhood. The coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown has also helped in the larger scheme of things, when it comes to these creatures of nature, Dr Krishna says.

From over a year and a half, pollution in Bengaluru has reduced and so has the infamous traffic. Recent data by the Pollution control board shows that pollution in Bengaluru has dropped by 60% due to decrease in vehicular movements. This in turn has added to the various factors in favor of the birds.

People have spotted peafowls in various places in Bengaluru including Lalbagh Botanical Garden which is the largest green patch of the state capital. Dr Krishna says the peacock spends overnight in Lalbagh and the nearest place from where it might have flown down is Turahalli forest which is around 13 kilometers away.

“The koel calls other members of their species through their song. Due to loud noise of vehicular honking and traffic in general, the song of the bird wouldn’t reach the desired distance. Hence, they begin singing early."

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“Before lockdown, koels were singing at around 2.30 to 3 am in the wee hours of morning when it would be calm. I could listen to the other bird’s answer. But post lockdown, the traffic has reduced drastically due to which the birds are probably getting some more sleep. They now sing at around 4am in the morning,” observes Dr Krishna.

Dr Krishna says even birds such as the swifts can be easily spotted now. “These tiny almost always on-the-move birds have spread their area. They are now spotted near houses. Their numbers had reduced drastically due to increase in pollution in the city. Pollution had killed insect population. Swifts and several other birds feed on insects and lack of sufficient food forced them to move away."

“Now, one can spot a bulbul or two on the trees and bushes around houses. The resident birds of Bengaluru are finally home," Dr Krishna adds.

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