Soon it will be that time of the year when the winged visitors from far and wide pay us a visit. We all love when that happens and especially when that visit is nothing short of a grand show, as in the case of the Amur falcons. During mid-October to the first part of November, the forests of our northeast India will be teeming with these winter migrants from Siberia. Why is this particular migration important? Sometimes you have to see it to believe it but till then, here's a little background on these amazing birds.
The Amur falcon is a small raptor of the falcon family that breeds in Siberia and Northern China and migrates to winter in Southern Africa. They visit India while doing so. This migration happens in large number and the sheer size of the flock makes it a great spectacle, something every wildlife enthusiast must witness atleast once in their lifetime. Fortunately for us, these handsome falcons make a stop-over in India, particularly in Nagaland and parts of Manipur and Assam before taking off for the most arduous part of their migration route--flying over the Arabian Sea to finally winter in South Africa.
The Amur falcons feed mostly on insects, mainly mid-air. Their migration to Africa coincides with the time when due to rains swarm of insects will be everywhere, making South Africa a great feeding ground. Their timing is impeccable; their flight over the Arabian Sea coincides with the dragonfly migration which is also their greatest food source during the most arduous phase of their journey.
The northeast India falls in their migration route, with a smattering of sightings in the northern part of India. It was back in 2012 when these birds made headlines, and not in a good way. The migration wasn't a new thing as it had been going on for years now but the news of the rampant hunting of these birds got out in 2012 from areas in and around Doyang river dam in Pangti village of Wokha district, Nagaland. This led to a lot of hue and cry all over the world which then led to conservation projects because of which we now know a lot more about these strong fliers. Spotting would be an understatement when we speak of Amur falcons. The nature of their flocking is nothing short of a great show. In millions they come visit starting mid-October till early November.
Apart from Nagaland, these birds visit parts of Manipur and Assam. As an effort to conserve these birds, some were captured and tagged for satellite tracking so that their onward journey from Nagaland to South Africa and the entire cycle of migration can be monitored closely. Amur falcons are known to cover one of the longest migration routes among all birds. For birds who travel such great distance to survive, anything less than admiration and respect is unacceptable. This was exactly what inspired the conservation workers to spread the importance of conserving these birds and give them a temporary safe house before they make the much longer onward journey. Pangti village in Nagaland has now become the world's Amur Falcon capital and has put Nagaland in the world map, for all the right reasons.