The coming of the cold season in the Indian sub continent brings with it bird migration – a journey that touches us all as millions of winged creatures run over, rather, fly over this entire land mass
Where ever one is, be it city, town or village: on the coast, on the banks of a river or that of a lake, in the grasslands or in the forests, you cannot miss these birds
Millions of winged denizens from the northern latitudes, flying away from the freezing cold, travel huge distances, traveling through the Himalayan passes, occasionally flying over these mighty mountains to the warmth and comfort of the subcontinent.
The diversity too is astounding, be it colour, shape or size. There are the sparrow sized wagtails and also the cranes that stand nearly four feet tall; waders that inhibit the shallow margins of water bodies; ducks like the pintail (they have long pin-like feathers projecting beyond the tail) and the shovellers (they have a shovel shaped beak) and also the harriers (those graceful and powerful hunters on the wing), preying on unsuspecting smaller birds, lizards and frogs
It is also a huge longitudinal canvas that these birds fly in from: Germany in the West (about 10 E) to the shores of Lake Bailkal in Russia (about 110 E) in the East, funneling in, as it were into the landmass of the subcontinent.
These insights into and information about bird migration have come mainly from bird ringing, when birds with small, light rings around their legs are caught again in a distant land.
<ul><li>Today, humans seem to have conquered the skies. </li></ul><ul><li>But the original frequent fliers are the birds ! </li></ul>
A lot of planning and care goes into the migratory journey that birds make every year .
<ul><li>Migratory birds make long flights every year and they have no maps or navigational tools, yet unerringly they find their way to far away destinations ! </li></ul>
<ul><li>The arctic tern for example, makes an annual round-trip from the Arctic breeding grounds at the North Pole to the Antarctic seas in the South Pole </li></ul>
<ul><li>The Pacific golden plover flies continuously for more than 100 hours to travel the 5,000 to 7,000 kilometers distance from Northern Siberia and Alaska to Hawaii and other islands in the Pacific Ocean ! </li></ul>
<ul><li>The Siberian crane travels distances of up to 6,500 kilometers every year, migrating from Siberia to the Bharatpur bird sanctuary in Rajasthan ! </li></ul>
<ul><li>Like all good travellers, birds too begin to prepare ahead for a long migratory flight. They eat more food, which is stored as high energy fact that can be burnt, rather like fuel, during their journey ! </li></ul>
<ul><li>The ruby throated hummingbird weighs only 4.8 grams, and is less than six inches long, but before it starts its migratory journey every autumn, it feeds on flowers and plants in order to tank up for the trip. This stored fat is enough to fuel a non-stop 24 hour flight from the US gulf coast to Mexico ! </li></ul>
<ul><li>Before starting their journey, birds make sure that the conditions are right for travel </li></ul>
<ul><li>The wind must be blowing in the direction that the birds want to head towards. </li></ul>
<ul><li>When a bird is flying right into the wind – called a headwind, it flies very low. </li></ul><ul><li>When the wind is pushing strongly in the same direction as the bird, as is a tailwind, the bird will fly high and fast, as the wind will help move it along </li></ul>
<ul><li>Birds have very good vision, and they rely on visual landmarks during their migratory journeys. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Using their ‘bird’s eye view’ they use mountain, rivers and coastlines as maps to tell them where they are, and to keep them on course ! </li></ul>
<ul><li>They also use the sun as a compass – the setting sun shows them due west. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Night flyers like songbirds use the stars and their patterns to help them navigate ! </li></ul>
<ul><li>Birds also have tiny grains of a mineral called magnetite embedded just above their nostrils. This is a kind of inbuilt compass that helps birds to move in the right direction using the earth’s magnetic field which tells the bird which direction is true North </li></ul>
<ul><li>Birds also use their sense of smell to help them find their way ! </li></ul>
<ul><li>Most birds migrate in flocks, which help them all to keep to the right course when flying. </li></ul>
<ul><li>It is astonishing that most migratory birds schedule their annual departure and return dates close to, or on the same day, as in the previous year! </li></ul>
<ul><li>Their timing, however, is not exact, as is the case with the legendary swallows of Capistrano, California. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Reportedly, their annual migration begins like clockwork on October 23 and ends with their return to their old home on March 19 ! </li></ul>
<ul><li>Well. This one is for the management students ! </li></ul>
<ul><li>When a formation of birds flies over long distances, each bird takes its turn in leading. This ensures that no bird gets too tired and yet the formation keeps moving at a certain pace </li></ul>
<ul><li>The lesson…. </li></ul><ul><li>Contribute in every situation. The only way to keep learning is by contributing. You do not have to be the leader every time. Every person is important. It doesn't matter whether you play the violin, the flute or the drums; you are still part of the orchestra. Leadership is not about exercising power as much as it is about contributing. This will happen when you realize that leadership is not a privilege but a responsibility </li></ul>