Village where love nestles
A nest of dreams where birds come from miles away: Kunthankulam. The villagers eagerly wait for them with love.
The road stretches to the villages of Tamilnadu from Nankuneri located in Nagarkovil -Thirunalveli road. You could see green fields by the side and the villagers who work on these fields. Also seen are country farmers carrying their plough and driving their bulls. Chilly wind coming over the surface of Thamraparni River soothes you. It is a small river. You can see cluster of birds like a spots on the water surface. It is journey to Kunthankulam, the heaven of migratory birds. Coming closer, you can see the cluster of many birds coming down from the sky and hear the loud chirping of birds flying around the village. The villagers are very friendly with these visitors from far off coming regularly every year. The birds build their nests on the branches of love set by them.
The birds appearing in a straight line on the vast sky come closer as you look at them. Finally without breaking the line they land on the lake or the trees. Some diving into the water and returning with their prey, some others feeding their children. The view of the birds in Kunthankulam is of immense beauty.
These migratory birds seeking the cool and marshy shades of Kunthankulam come from Russia, Siberia, Central Asia and Germany. Many water birds from the Indian sub continent are also here.
The main breeds of the migratory birds are pelicans. Among these birds are Little Cormorant, Cattle Cormorant, Flamingo, Coloured stork, Cormorant, Spoonbill, Owl, Openbill Stork, White Ibis, Black Ibis, Green heron and Dartel. It is found that 203 kinds of birds including 19 kinds of migratory birds come to Kuntankulam.
It is to escape from the extreme cold weather of Siberia that the birds seek shelter in Kunthankulam. The breeding season of almost all the birds is this season. The staying time of the birds in Kunthankulam is from October to April. The pelicans that come in November stay here till next August. During this time they nestle on the trees and give birth to their children.
The birds like Painted Stork, Spoon bill, Open bill Stork will be here from January to August The lake in the middle of Kunthankulam village is the camp of these birds. Other than this the villagers have planted more than 1500 trees in 13 grounds for these birds. They bring water to the lake from Manimuthar dam for the comfortable stay of the birds. It was found that 1,23,632 birds have came to Kunthankula during last year. 5322 nests of Jamasilera Tityes and about thousand nests of other birds have been found in this village. Pelican's nests will be much more than that.
Watchman of the birds
The natives of Kunthankulam believe that the chirping of the birds and their beating of the wings are like a boon to them. The comfort of the birds is their happiness. They lend their home, roof and the courtyard to the birds free of any rent. In this village they never use their radios in high volume. They have prohibited sound of crackers, roar of vehicles and the sound of the public addressing systems during the election. Palpandi the caretaker of birds for the past thirty years is a synonym of holiness of this village. Palpandi and his wife Vallithayi have grown up more than thousand trees for the birds.
He has taken care and given treatment for 2632 baby birds, which were injured by falling from the trees. Palpandi and his family took over the selfless duty of putting medicine and bandages on the wounds and feeding them without any hesitation. Eventually the 53-year-old Palpandi was appointed as the official bird watcher by the government. He was given many awards too.
The government of Tamilnadu declared the Kunthankulam as the bird sanctuary of migratory birds in 1994. This bird sanctuary is under the control of forest department. There is a tower and a pavilion built on the banks of the lake.
Text: T. Ramanandakumar