The global pandemic known as COVID-19 has been changing and impacting the lives of almost all the species in the world ever since the virus started taking lives in Wuhan, China.
While all the businesses and economic activities are being severely hampered due to the coronavirus, nature is healing from non-stop economic activity – and that has made the ‘almost lost’ cacophony of birds audible in Dhaka city once again.
According to the ornithologists, birds are one of the friendliest creatures, and Bangladesh is one of the ideal nations to nurture birds – no wonder why the migratory birds from the cold northern hemisphere countries find shelters in Bangladesh during its winter.
Besides the migratory birds in several areas of Bangladesh, the city of Dhaka is mostly known for having some common birds such as the Crow, Sparrow, common/Indian Mynah (Shalik), Pigeon, Parrot, sometimes Cuckoo in the Spring season and the Night-Owls in some places at the night, Woodpecker in some rare circumstances, sometimes the Kingfisher at some lakes and last but not the least – Magpie Robin (Doyel), the national bird of Bangladesh.
Besides Pigeon and Parrot, the rest of the birds are usually not domestic, home-bred birds. While the Crow usually relies on leftover foods and wastages from households, other mentioned birds do not fully rely either on being home-bred. Following their usual routine life, they wake up in the morning, leave their nests and fly across the city in search of food, and get back to the nests in the evening.
However, with the massive tantrum of industrialization in Dhaka in recent times, the number of birds and the symphony of their chirping sounds were almost invisible in the capital due to extreme environmental and sound pollution, thanks to the everyday busy schedule of the city dwellers.
Suffering from hundreds of antagonistic effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many dwellers of the quarantined Dhaka has expressed joy in social media recent times that they have had been listening to the cacophony of birds in this less polluted state, something they either missed for a long or never really imagined to hear clearly.
“My 5-year-old son has never listened to the cacophony of so many birds outside of our apartment in the morning. Truth be told, neither did I, in recent times – but ever since Dhaka has been locked down and people started being in the home quarantine to avoid being contaminated by the coronavirus, we are now hearing more chirpings of these tiny creatures than ever,” Nafees, an engineer living in Banasree, posted on Facebook.
To examine the reason, the reporter talked to Ikramul Shakil – one of the most acclaimed mountaineers, environmentalists, a theatre activist and an author in Bangladesh but most importantly, a bird lover who is a member of Bangladesh Bird Club.
“Bangladesh is wonderfully blessed with beautiful variations of birds. From the Crows to the Cuckoos, from the Pigeons to the Parrots – every bird is important for nature, and they need to be nurtured. The atmosphere in Bangladesh especially in the city of Dhaka in recent times, however, was sadly not favourable to that need,” Shakil told this reporter.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic started impacting lives everywhere, Dhaka’s nature and the overall environment started healing from the pollution. The frequent movement of vehicles and smokes of the industrial and constructional activities have gone away for a while, thus the birds are freely exploring the nature like never before in recent times. The symphony of their sweet chirping and their cacophonous conversations are now hereby more audible to the people in the city,” Shakil further explained.
However, as every good thing comes with its cons, there has been a concerning issue emerging as well, due to these changing aspects of the environment caused by the COVID-19.
“As people are slightly aware these days, so they are not throwing wastes everywhere like they used to pollute Dhaka in each and every day. While this is good news, the bad thing is that the Crows are suffering due to a shortage of food. Apart from the home-bred birds like Pigeon and Parrots, other birds like the Sparrow and the Mynas are not getting sufficient amount of foods. These are birds, not other pets like dogs and cats – so they are comparatively helpless in this scenario,” Shakil said.
Regarding the rare birds, he said “As you can see, the number of Owls are very much rare in Dhaka – we barely hear the voice of Owls nowadays. Our national bird Magpie Robin, or flying Eagles are also becoming very rare in recent times. If birds cannot manage their foods from the locality, we will only have the Vultures around us – so we must protect these birds.”
The necessity of protecting birds is certainly important, not only for nature but also for the dwellers in the city who recently got to hear the soothing, chirping rhythms of the birds singing in the city during this healing period. UNB