Migrant birds flock to Valley for summer

Kathmandu, March 28

With the beginning of pre-monsoon season, Eurasian and other types of koels have started arriving in Kathmandu Valley from southern India and as far as South Africa.

According to ornithologists, Eurasian koels can stay even in urban areas with few a trees for them to live in due to its adaptive nature.

Ornithologist Dr Hem Sagar Baral said the first Eurasian koels had arrived in Kathmandu on March 26 this week.

“These Eurasian koels have spread throughout Kathmandu Valley and I can hear their voices most of the time,” Ornithologist Dr Baral told The Himalayan Times.

With the beginning of summer, migratory birds have started flying to Nepal for breeding due to easy availability of food. Ornithologists said among them koels had stayed in Kathmandu Valley whereas other birds had flown to the Tarai and other parts of the country.

Besides Eurasian koel, Asian koel, Indian cuckoo, emerald cuckoo, oriental cuckoo, pied cuckoo and lesser cuckoo also arrived in the Valley in the fourth week of March.

Every year Nepal witnesses two kinds of bird migration — winter migration and summer migration. While more than 150 species of birds enter Nepal during winter, barely 30 to 40 species make their way to spend summer in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal. Almost always, winter migration in Nepal means birds come from the north soon after completing their breeding cycle.

The summer migration of birds, however, is different. Nearly all summer migrant birds come to Nepal for breeding and most of them come from southern India and south-east Asia.

Chestnut-headed bee-eater holds the record for being the earliest summer migrant to arrive in Nepal. With the arrival of Chestnut-headed bee-eater, there are several other species that have already entered or are preparing to enter Nepal.

One of the most handsome birds of Nepal, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, has also made its way to the Tarai. By the second week of April, many varieties of cuckoos are likely to arrive in Nepal.

“Asian koels has already arrived in Kathmandu. If you are lucky to live near the woodlands or city parks, then you will constantly hear cuckoos throughout the spring and early summer,” Dr Baral said.

He said the longest journey among Nepal’s summer migrants is perhaps made by the pied cuckoo. Some of these birds come from Sub-Saharan Africa — a journey that involves travel of more than 5,000 km just one way. Most of our summer birds stay till the month of October prior to their departure to their winter quarters.