Birds feed at sewage drains!

Nishant Nath Shukla,* Durga Lal Verma,** Sumit Bari*** Govind Yadav****and Harsh Vardhan*****

Exploiting tiny crustaceans, worms, mollusks, insects, larvae, tadpoles, microscopic snails and similar prey….

It was November 2018. We undertook a survey of Amanisha-ka-Nalla (an open drains running for nearly 45 km north-south across city of Jaipur. It was to assess what birds are present in such a foul-smelling flow. Following were in or at edges of this drain.

Black-winged Stilt, Little-ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Red-wattled Lapwing, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Stint, Temminck’s Stint, and Ruff.

The drain water finally enters Chandlai lake and within sewage-impacted water spread, we could observe these birds feeding at ease:

Pied Avocet, Great Painted Snipe, Eurasian Curlew (Kishan Meena reported it there). In adjoining areas, not far away from the lake edges, were found Red-wattled Lapwing. By side of open grassland (near Nevta lake), were observed Yellow-wattled lapwing and Indian Coursers, both in breeding plumage. Most common to be found across drains is Black-winged stilt.

There could be more species in such a habitat. Of the 23 species we observed, 14 happened to be migratory. Their presence meant that their feed was available in plenty in such foul quality of water too. “…. they push their bills into mud to probe for worms, bivalve mollusks and other invertebrates. This is an enormously abundant, protein-rich resource – provided you can reach it” states Discover Wildlife (

Wader aficionado, Graham Appleton says: “These waders have high-set eyes, perfect for spotting predators, rather than for looking down their beaks.”

Twelve varieties of bird-feeding groups have been detailed in “Avivorous, Carnivorous, Frugivorous, Granivorous, Insectivorous, Molluscivorous, Mucivorous, Nectivorous, Ophiophagous, Palynivorous, Piscivorous, and Omnivorous.”

Leo Zwarts, Anne-Marie Blomert, and Roelof Hupkes ( say: “In order to increase body mass before their departure back home, some waders, such as Dunlin and Godwit increase the total time they spend feeding. They fed more at night and at high temperatures, circumstances in which feeding activity was depressed in winter. In other species, however, such as the Little Stint, feeding time did not increase during the pre-migration period. In winter, feeding time and body mass in the 14 wader species studied were negatively associated, but this trend disappeared during the pre-migration period. Nocturnal feeding was particularly important in the smaller waders, but the larger waders also began to feed at night later in the season.” says: The niche that these birds have carved out in our environment is a hard place to live.

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