Jharsuguda : For the last couple of years a large flock of Asian Open Bill Stork birds (Anastomus oscitans) has chosen the famous and sacred groove of Jhadeswar temple as their nesting place.
This distinctive stork is found mainly in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. These tall and majestic birds arrive here during the month of May and remain here till September to raise their chicks. Interestingly, each year their arrival coincides with Akshaya Tritiya – auspious day for Hindus.
Also known as Asian Open Bill Stork feeds mainly on large molluscs, and they separate the shell from the body of the snail using the tip of the beak. This tip is inserted into the opening of the snail and the body is extracted with the bill still under water.
Asian Open Bill Stork is not a migratory bird, as it is generally considered; rather it is a resident bird which lives close to water bodies and paddy fields. This bird is very helpful to farmers as it feeds on Snails which are very destructive to agriculture & vegetable crops.
The Asian Open Bill breeds colonially, building a rough platform of sticks often on half-submerged trees, typically laying two to four eggs. The nests are close to each other leading to considerable jostling among neighbors. Both parents take turns in incubation, the eggs hatching after about 25 days. The chicks emerge with cream coloured down and are shaded by the loosely outspread and drooped wings of a parent.
They also produce low honking notes accompanied by up and down movements of the bill when greeting a partner arriving at the nest.
However, the species is very rare in the Sind and Punjab regions of Pakistan, but widespread and common in India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand.
Being revered as the abode of Lord Mahadev, the sacred groove of Jhadeswar temple is protected by the local people and therefore it has managed to escape from the axe of ever rising tentacles of so called development. Let us come forward to save the existing greenery around us for a better living condition till it is too late to realize.