The chirping of numerous birds at a time, always spells melody to my ears. It generates a feeling of reverence and awe in my heart for the Creator who has created them all. Though I long to observe their movements, it is almost never possible as they hardly stay put at one place for long.
To my delight, I had the luxury of observing many different birds in their natural habitat, a few months ago. As I entered Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (also known as Keoladeo National park – located in Rajasthan, India), the cool morning air resonated with the mixed chirping and screeching of various birds. It was a feast for the ears to begin with and later for the eyes as well!
The Painted Stork was the chief attraction for me. The Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala) is a large wading bird in the stork family. It is found in the wetlands of the plains of tropical Asia south of the Himalayas in South Asia and extending into Southeast Asia, mainly in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Vietnam and Cambodia.
The Painted Storks are called so because of their distinctive pink tertial (flight) feathers of the wing. They have big yellow beaks with down-curved tips. They forage in flocks in shallow waters along rivers or lakes and are found mostly on freshwater wetlands.
Three special features of the Painted Stork:
- After a period of courtship, the male and female painted storks build their nest together. Such a united effort to build their home – doesn’t it sound amazing!
- Both the parent storks take responsibility in feeding the young storks. No gender stereotyped-roles! Shared responsibility in bringing up the little ones.
- Though the painted storks live upto 28 years, they lose their voice just after 18 months. The maximum sound that comes from them after that is a harsh croaking or low moaning. Still, these voiceless birds don’t stop communicating!
One noteworthy lesson to glean from these lovely birds is their attempt to communicate, notwithstanding their natural impediment of losing their voice early in life. This made me think that we human beings having the powerful gift of speech, so often stop communicating with people around us – out of choice or reason. And, this creates gaps in relationships.
Obstacles in the course of our lives are myriad. However, to learn to move ahead in spite of these obstacles is what makes life progressive. The Painted Storks teach us a lesson in that!
(As of today, the Painted Storks find themselves in the Near Threatened Category of the IUCN.)