A Dead Owl on a String, Bangalore

by Vidisha Kulkarni and Dr. MB Krishna
Dr. MB Krishna

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Flying birds and bats getting entangled in kite strings is a tragic story which repeats itself over and over again right across the sub-continent. The manjas used in kite strings cause deep cuts, injuries, fractures and dislocations, and, often, death. With their numbers already affected, birds and bats are facing an additional danger.

A sunny Sunday morning turned up one of the most bizarre sights of the season. A Barn Owl’s right wing hanging on a string, blowing and turning in the wind in a secondary forest patch in Bangalore. It was not too difficult to unravel the story though!

A play kite had been flown and somehow the person flying it had let it loose, and it had blown over and got stuck in a tree in the woodland patch. The dark thick nylon thread hanging from the tree was long enough to almost touch the ground. The string had not broken off naturally, for it was thick and was too strong to even snap with bare hands. And a poor barn owl, quartering the ground for rats in its nightly rounds had struck this thread and got entangled. There it must have hung by one wing in deep pain, for the sun to come up and roast it in the March heat the next morning. The bird would have obviously died in pain and starvation. The body would have rotted off and contributed a mouthful to a wandering dog, for we could not find any feathers lying around. But we found the wing! Just the wing!

Flying birds and bats getting entangled in kite strings is a tragic story which repeats itself over and over again right across the sub-continent. The manjas used in kite strings cause deep cuts, injuries, fractures and dislocations, and, often, death. With their numbers already affected, birds and bats are facing an additional danger.

Our joy, and our revelry, leaves a tragedy trail for all the flying bats and birds across the land. We can safely guess, with reason, that thousands should be dying a tragic death by kite flying alone. It is not that kite flying itself is bad, but not recovering the thread and the kite, and not allowing them to get blown about in the wind is important. So will you commit to collect back all the kites that you fly and see blowing about, please?

About the author

Vidisha Kulkarni and Dr. MB Krishna

Vidisha is a budding naturalist and hobbyist and Dr. M. B. Krishna is an ecologist and ornithologist; both are from Bangalore.



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