South Indian Beat

Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary

Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary or Kunthankulam is a 1.2933 km2 (0.4993 sq mi) protected area declared as a sanctuary in 1994. It adjoins the tiny village of Koonthankulam in Nanguneri Taluk of Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. It is composed of Koonthankulam and Kadankulam irrigation tanks, conveniently linked by tar road. More than 43 species of resident and migratory water birds visit here every year. More than 100,000 migratory birds start coming by December and fly away to their northern homes by June or July after they lay and hatch eggs and the young ones mature enough to fly with the older ones. This is the largest reserve for breeding water birds in South India. An interpretation centre, watch tower, children's park and dormitory are open for public use throughout the year.

The birds coming to their backyards for five generations are protected vehemently by villagers and regarded as harbingers of luck. The excreta of birds -'guano' is collected by villagers in summer along with silt to use as fertilizer in their fields. From children to grannies in the village all protect them, their nests and fledge lings. Chicks fallen are taken care of in the rescue centre till they are able to fly on their own. Anybody troubling the nests are punished in their own methods of shaving the head, or making the procession on donkey.

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