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Suciding Birds In Jhatinga, Assam
Suciding Birds In Jhatinga, Assam

Bidyut Nath
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Friday, March 27, 2009
Have you ever heard of birds suiciding? Jatinga valley is located 9 km from Haflong, Assam. The place has attracted ornithologists from all over the world to unveil the mystery of the flocks of little migratory birds crashing to death on still dark nights. This valley is famous for the incredible phenomenon of birds committing suicide . The migratory birds come during the months August to November. Can anyone provide some information on this peculiar habits of birds?

Posted On : 4/8/2009 3:29:31 AM

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Suchismita Aditya
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Saturday, March 14, 2009
Yes these phenomena of birds committing suicide is really a mystery in Jatinga. The village is famous for the peculiar phenomenon of birds committing suicide . Jatinga is a village on a ridge located n the North Cachar Hills district, Assam which is not far from Guwahati. This mysterious behavior of birds in Jatinga is not a regular feature but mainly seen during the end of monsoon months. The time for this particular behaviour of the birds recorded to be on dark monnless nights engulfed with fog. Jatinga is visited by several migratory birds these flying birds come crashing to the ground without prior waning. This phenomenon was lokked upon by the local tribal people as spirits flying from the sky to frighten them. However, this phenomenon is not confined to a single species and Tiger Bittern, Black Bittern, Little Egret, Pond Heron, Indian Pitta and Kingfishers are seen to succumb to this effect. Ornithologists from all over the world have tried exposing this mystery. The reports conclude that this phenomenon of birds committing suicide is likely due to the confusion at high altitudes and high speed winds. According scientists weather conditions make changes in the magnetic qualities of the underground water in this area. Thus, the physiological rhythm of the birds is disturbed and they start behaving abnormally towards the sources of light. These birds are attracted to the villagers torches which are the only sources of light in a dark foggy night and hence they are killed upon landing. Nevertheless Conservation groups and wildlife officials are trying to prevent this phenomenon by creating awareness in the illiterate villagers.

Posted On : 4/8/2009 10:41:37 PM

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Anju Malhotra
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
For many years I too believed that birds do commit suicide at Jatinga until I chanced upon better information. They don t commit suicide but rather fall pray to forces of nature and human nature above all. Even these accounts are rather elementary. I wish if some better organized study takes place and these birds are relived from curse of Jatinga valley. The birds drop only in September and October under favourable weather conditions, rarely in August. The temperature at this time of year ranges from 9 degrees C to 28 degrees C and the humidity from 80 to 95 % With high winds, the birds drop lower down otherwise they go higher up. Bringing down birds appeared to be a sport with the villagers. Special poles made of bamboo with tapering ends were used to bring down the birds . While most birds went straight into the pot, new species were taken to the ZSI scientist studying the phenomenon to be identified. A couple of villagers, employees of the Assam Forest Department, had been trained in field identification and were equipped with field guides . A ZSI survey had recorded 122 species in the valley in 1983, using mist netting. Of these, 58 had dropped to the lights.

Posted On : 4/8/2009 11:04:17 PM

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Siddharth Ray
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Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Jatinga, famous for the phenomenon of birds committing suicide , is located on a spur of the Haflong ridge, the head quarter of the district. It itself is an offshoot of the main ridge of the Borail range. It is centrally located at the junction of the roads leading to Haflong, Lumding and Silchar. Here the mist & fog lie like a veil around the beautiful face of the damsel from September to November. During these late monsoon months, mysterious behaviour of birds takes place. However, some other conditions are also necessary for the phenomenon to occur. The air must be foggy, cloudy or misty. If there is slight rain, it would be even better. The wind must be from south to north. It should be moonless dark nights. And the best time is between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Various studies have been conducted to unravel the causes behind this phenomenon. The record maintained show that 44 species have been attracted to the light sources. It has been established that the birds are not attracted to the entire Jatinga Ridge but only to a well-defined strip, 1.5 km long and 200 metres wide. Invariably the birds come in only from the north and attempts at placing the lights on the southern side of the ridge to attract the birds have failed. Another interesting fact has been brought out is that no long distance migratory bird gets attracted to the light traps. The victims are resident birds of the adjacent valleys and hill slopes. The unusual behaviour of the birds seems to occur due to the peculiar weather conditions at Jatinga. There also appears to be a correlation between the breeding period of the birds and the Jatinga phenomenon. Studies also reveal that the flight of water birds to Jatinga may be attributed to heavy rains and floods and submergence of their natural habitat in the surrounding areas. It has been observed that there was a high congregation of birds at Jatinga during 1988 which happened to be a year of high floods. Renowned ornithologists like Dr. Salim Ali, Dr. S.Sengupta, A. Rauf have carried out researches on this subject. However, no single hypothesis comprehensively explains the Jatinga mystery till date. The problem deserves deeper scientific study from various angles.

Posted On : 4/8/2009 11:30:08 PM

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Vikas Chaturvedi
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Thursday, December 20, 2007
Many persons have undertaken various researches on this curious phenomenon, but no single theory could unravel the actual causes behind the suicide of the birds . Noted ornithologists Dr S. Sengupta, A. Rauf and Dr Salim Ali are some among the researchers. As per the findings of the various researchers, 44 species of birds are attracted to the light source. It has also been accepted that birds are not attracted to the entire Jatinga area but to a particular place of 1.5 km long and 200 meters wide. The birds come from the north and they are not attracted towards the lights of the south. Moreover it is also found that the birds which get attracted towards the light sources are mostly local birds which have their habitats in the adjacent hill slopes and valleys in and around Jatinga. The long distance migratory birds do not get attracted to the light traps put by villagers. Till now the mystery is far above human understanding. The phenomenon is not only a subject of ornithologist s interest but it is really an amazing phenomenon. If the causes of this mystery is not found very soon we may certainly lose some of the most precious species of our feathered friends. The phenomenon not only deserves to be made known worldwide, but it deserves deeper scientific studies.

Posted On : 4/9/2009 12:16:45 AM

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Rajendra Prasad Udumula
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Friday, June 12, 2009
The question in the minds of every bird enthusiast and of those who are curious is Does birds Really commit suicide? Birds come in hundreds to Jatinga and die. Birds are trapped by bird fighting at Jatinga. They are attracted by artificial lights on dark moonless nights and are either killed or trapped. A similar light phenomenon occurs in the Philipines in about the same time and in similar climatic conditions i.e. on foggy, windy and moonless nights. While most of the birds are trapped with what they call Tawang in the Philippines are supposed to be migrants, those at Jatinga are not necessarily so. True, the villagers of Jatinga killed the birds for their table. But they treated it as a sport. The villagers do not betray any sense of guilt. They had countered our shocked disbelief by asking point blank : Don t you kill fish in the plains in a similar manner with the years first flood? They considered the coming of the birds to be a gift of the Gods. Birds come in large numbers from August to October on foggy, moonless nights. Even in July and November birds appear, but in decidedly fewer numbers. The time of the phenomenon occuring coincides with that of migration. This valley falls on the migratory route of locally migrating birds. That is how villagers get the oppurtunity to trap them. But still these birds come here every year and get trapped.

Posted On : 6/25/2009 8:17:11 AM

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