Amidst greenery and serene mountains, there is a small village called Jatinga situated in the Dima Hasao district of Assam. This village is famous for its rare occurrence of birds ‘committing suicide’. It is this unique phenomenon of ‘bird mystery’ which attracts tourists.
During the late monsoon months i.e. August to November, ornithologists and bird watchers visit this place to study the curious case of migratory birds hurtling to their unescapable death. After dusk between 7 and 10 pm, hundreds of migratory and local birds descend from the sky, collapsing to their deaths by crashing into building and trees. This unique occurrence is due to disorientation caused by high altitudes and fog.
Locals switch on high power searchlights on the hilltop in order to draw the attention of birds flying at night. It is unfortunate that such birds fall easy prey to the villagers. Those birds fluttering around the light sources are easy target of attacks and are brought down by a rigorous swing of the bamboo poles. Catapults are also used as weapons to attack and bring down the flying birds as well as those birds perching on trees and bushes near the light sources. Some of the birds who fall prey are tiger bittern, black bittern, little egret, pond heron, Indian pitta, kingfishers, hill partridge, green pigeon, emerald dove, black drongo etc.,
But however, paradoxical to the popular belief, birds are not suicidal and they do not commit suicide. They get entangled in the fog and wind leading to disorientation and therefore they seek solace of the light sources put out by the locals. The consequent result is that these hovering birds are brought down with bamboo sticks and catapults.
Ornithologists, conservationists, wildlife officials have been trying and working hard to eradicate the killing of birds by creating awareness among the locals and educating them. They have succeeded in achieving significant results, as there has been a gradual decline in the bird killing since the last few years.
Jatinga has a bird watching centre, offering accommodations on prior booking. Several budget hotels are also available in Silchar for tourists.
Guwahati airport is 369 kms away. The nearest railway station is Lumding junction which is 140 kms away. Bus services are also available.
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