Bohemian Waxwing Spotted In India After A Century
Himachal Pradesh birder spots Bohemian Waxwing after a century-long absence from records in the country.
Photo: Raj Rawal.
When Raj Rawal decided to spend the morning of January 26, 2017, birdwatching in his village of Rawaling in Himachal Pradesh, he didn’t expect to find anything out of the ordinary. Well-acquainted with the feathered denizens of his village, he was a little surprised to observe a small flock of birds that he couldn’t identify. Perched on the branches of a juniper tree were half a dozen starling-sized birds, the likes of which he had never encountered before. The pictures that Rawal took of the mystery birds that morning confirmed the presence of the Bohemian Waxwing in the country. According to the records of the Bombay Natural History Society, the species was last recorded in India in Kashmir’s Dachigam National Park in 1907.
The Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garulus, aptly named for its wandering nature, is native to North America and Eurasia, but is a vagrant in several countries. The birds sport prominent crests, have distinct black throats and vibrant wing feathers. They’re reputed to be quite gregarious and can be found in large feeding flocks, feasting on insects and fruits. Interestingly, sightings of these birds have been on the rise this year. “I was hoping that someone will see the bird this year. There has been an explosion of Bohemian Waxwings in range countries. They are being seen in great numbers and in new places. It is being called a Waxwing Winter in Britain! So a spill-over to our parts had the best chance this year,” said ornithologist Sumit Sen, founder of Kolkata Birds.
Somesh Goyal, President of Himachal Birds is elated with the sighting that has added a new species to the state’s bird checklist. “ In a telephonic conversation, Raj Rawal revealed that the birds remained in his village for 10-15 minutes before flying away. It is surely the first ever sighting for Himachal Pradesh. Raj is keeping an eye on the movements of the birds,” he said.