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Bird tagged in Mongolia wings its way to Tamil Nadu sanctuary

Representational image. These migratory birds are identifiable by their white and grey plumage and has distinct black bars on its head and orange-yellow beak and legs (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@OrnithophileI)

It was an occasion to rejoice for wildlife enthusiasts especially bird lovers as a bar-headed goose which was tagged in Mongolia was spotted in Tamil Nadu’s Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary in Tirunelveli district. Significantly, this is the third time this particular bird has been spotted in India.

Native of East and South Asia, the bar-headed goose is one of the iconic winter migratory bird species that comes to Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary and it feeds on aquatic plants, insects and grasses. Covering more than 1,600 kilometres in one day, these birds can reach altitudes of 29,500 feet when they migrate twice across the Himalayas.

The bird is identifiable by its white and grey plumage and has distinct black bars on its head and orange-yellow beak and legs. During flight, these birds appear to have all-grey plumage with black wing tips.

This species feeds on grass, aquatic plants and occasionally insects.

The bird was sighted on January 28 by M. Mathivanan, a Senior Research Associate of Atree’s Agasthyamalai Community Conservation Centre in Manimutharu, and Balachandar, a Chennai-based videographer. The bird had a green colour-band with the marking F60.

As per Mathivanan, the green colour band is used by Mongolian ornithologists and so they wrote to Mongolia’s Wildlife Science and Conservation Centre. Tseveenmyadag N, a senior ornithologist at the Centre informed that this bird had been captured and marked in Central Mongolia on July 7, 2014.

The bird was identified as an adult male which weighed more than two kilograms and it had been registered twice in India. It was spotted in 2017 near Moolakaraipatti in Tirunelveli district and in 2018 at Mysore district, Karnataka.

The sighting and identification of the bird is vital as it reflects the conservation of wetlands in India, particularly Tamil Nadu. Residents of Koonthankulam village support the forest department’s efforts in bird conservation.