Hyderabad: Bar-headed geese, which are among the suspects in the cases related to the outbreak of bird flu in India, also spend their winters in Telangana state. The birds, which in many ways look like large ducks, are seen almost every year during the winter months in various water bodies.
According to seasoned bird watchers, this is the peak season for migratory birds in the state.
“You can find bar-headed geese in Gandipet, Pocharam, Manjeera and many other water bodies. However, it is not to say that every bird that migrates carries disease. It is not known if the ones found with bird flu were late arrivals, or somehow caught it after coming to India,” Humayun Taher, coordinator for the Asian Waterbird Census 2021 for Telangana state and Andhra Pradesh, told Deccan Chronicle.
The census goes on in the two states till the end of this month.
Escaping the harsh winters in their northern homes that stretch from Siberia in Russia to Afghanistan, the bar-headed geese go all the way down till Sri Lanka. They begin returning home sometime in February when it starts getting warm in India in the run-up to the summer.
At least five bar-headed geese that were found dead in Himachal Pradesh have tested positive for bird flu.
“This year, we expect a wider spread of wintering water birds. After good rains, the lakes and ponds are well-stocked with water,” Taher said.
It is very possible that migratory birds that are wintering in Telangana state are not carrying any disease, he said adding that volunteers taking part in the census will be keeping an eye out for remains of wild birds.
According to J.V.D. Murthy, president of Deccan Birders, many water birds, such as ducks, birds that spend their time on lake shores such as sandpipers and plovers, among others, winter in the state in large numbers every year.
The nearly 50-year-old group of birders in the state was called Birdwatchers Society of Andhra Pradesh before the bifurcation of the two Telugu states.