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Odisha ‘s Chilka lagoon stuns bird watchers – becomes the only place in the world to host white grayheaded swamphen

The one and only white grayheaded swamphen in the world is found Odisha (Pic. Courtesy odishabytes.com)

The State of Odisha has the singular distinction of being home of the world’s one and only white grayheaded swamphen. Found in Mangalajodi wetland located on Chilika lagoon’s northern edge, this bird has become the talk of the town.

The discovery of this bird was published online in the well-known scientific publication Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

The features of this bird include an almost all-white plumage because of genetic dilution but its eyes are coloured which is a common attribute of swamphen species.

On the other hand, the gray-headed swamphen or purple swamphen is purplish-blue, has a large red bill, white overall covers and a red front shield. This bird is found across the country in large marshes and reed beds bordering lakes.

This rare bird was identified by a research team of three members. They are Subhendu Mallik, honorary wildlife warden of Khordha Shakti Nanda, associate professor at Sri Sri University Shakti Nanda and Ashutosh Mallik, assistant conservator of forests.

Talking to the media, Mallik said: “Identifying plumage aberrations in the field can be extremely difficult because of many factors such as distance to the bird, movements, proper lighting and whether the bird is already strongly bleached by the light.” He added that “the reviewers had many queries on the sighting and other details, which we were able to address successfully.”

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