Forest officials in India’s Uttar Pradesh have confirmed a new nesting and breeding colony of Sarus Cranes in Etawah, around 300 km from Delhi.
More than a dozen nests, containing two chicks each of the Sarus, which is incidentally the state bird, have been sighted by forest department personnel, ornithologists and wildlife activists in the wetlands and paddy fields of Etawah and Mainpuri districts, the Times of India reports.
This has been the first sighting of nesting and breeding of the bird in Etawah and Mainpuri, Times of India reported, citing forest officials.
“The figure of the number of nests may increase. The counting process of nests is still on as the nesting and breeding season of World’s tallest bird is not yet over,” said divisional forest officer Kanhaiya Patel.
Of the total population of 14,000 (including Grus Antigone Indian Sarus, Demosil Crane and Common Crane), nearly 5,000 Sarus are said to be nesting in and around Etawah and Mainpuri district, said forest authorities. However, the experts say the bird’s survival is endangered by various factors, the most serious being the dwindling Wetlands habitat.
Society secretary Rajiv Chauhan however told TOI, “In total, this year with the start of the nesting season, separate forest teams, had reported sighting of nearly 23 nesting sites of the world’s tallest bird in the wetlands and paddy fields of Etawah and Maipuri districts. On Wednesday, at one such nesting site located close to Khiraungi village in Mainpuri, a sarus pair was found guarding its two chicks. Similarly, we came across two more chicks foraging for food along with their parents in a wetland in Takhrau village, besides two other chicks in Sarsai Nawar, a wetland area of Etawah.”
Likewise, the villagers residing within the periphery of several other wetlands in two districts had apprised the forest department about three more such sighting of sarus chicks.
Once chicks are born, the male sarus, being taller and stronger than its female counterpart, spends most of the time guarding the nest while the female hunts for food. As the chicks grow, they start foraging with their parents on marshes and shallow wetlands for roots, tubers, insects, crustaceans and small vertebrate prey.
The birds, known for ferocious attacks on anyone trying to harm its little ones, were found to be alert and covering their chicks with long feathers. “When a foerst team tried to get close to their habitat and count the chicks, it made a loud call to signal danger,” said a senior forest department official.