The Demoiselle Crane – hooked to Khichan village…
This is the smallest of the 15 crane species in the world and is migratory.
They migrate to India mostly from Central and North Asia – flying over the mighty Himalayas. A large number of these birds arrive every year at a village named Khichan in Western Indian desert state of Rajasthan.
Because the villagers there have taken it upon themselves to protect these birds, feed them and take care of the injured ones – ensuring their safe stay. They have been doing this for the past 80 years and they are really protective about these birds. In this village, there is a separate fenced feeding area where these birds can safely feed on locally grown grain. The birds really feel safe in this village and that is the reason of their large scale migration to this one place year after year.
I had visited Khichan when the first flocks of these cranes were just arriving. It was an amazing sight (video below).
Among the other things the villagers have done is to get the high tension power lines shifted away from the path these birds normally take. They faced a lot of hurdles but they persisted and got their way finally. I wish we all could make efforts like these to protect our birds.
The first thing one notices about this bird is its beautiful red eyes. Its crown, body and long tail feathers are grey. Its peach colored grey based beak is short. Gorgeous white feathers stream down its neck from the corner of its eye like white ribbons. Its face and neck are slate-grey with loose feathers that hang down to its upper body. The legs are dark.
As I mentioned above, high tension power lines are a big threat to these and other large migratory birds.
As always, being a grain-eater, there is always a threat of farmer-bird conflict along its flyway and at other destinations.