Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Destined to die... Red Avadavat (Lal Munia)

Humans are funny creatures, we want to be Gods and Slaves all at the same very time. God because we have found ways and means to challenge the nature and Oh, havoc we have wreaked, we have built great Cities, Dams, travelled to moon and back and looking at ways to visit the stars… all this is okay but in the very deep we are afraid and look for ways and means to brush aside the unknown and are ever looking for reasons and looking for others to be the fall guy for our doings.

Today I deal with this quality leading to devastation of a species - but then we just brush it aside without a second thought… I refer this unfortunate species as Canary birds of India.

Some dose of history has to be passed with this to understand what do you mean when you say the Canary… Its a cliché really… a common place remark that is made without knowing. It so happened that there were miners dying in the Coal mines mysteriously. The tissue of the dead were stained red. Meanwhile a Mr John Haldane was experimenting with deadly gases using himself as a subject of these tests. He used to lock himself up in rooms with high levels of carbon dioxide and monoxide to ‘know firsthand’ the effects of being slowly poisoned. He discovered that the carbon monoxide, that is a by-product of combustion is combining with haemoglobin in the blood and the combination stained the tissue bright red. He put two and two together and came to the conclusion that it is the air poisoning in the mines that was killing miners. He proposed that Canaries be carried in the coal mines to detect this poisoning. Why canaries ? I do not know but they were pets, small, birds and expendable? The birds tissues absorb oxygen while it inhales and while it exhales, so in theory the birds would get effected twice as fast by air poisoning and if the canaries starting to die - it was time that either the men run out or follow suite. (Continue reading after these pictures...)
Pictures of birds clicked in Hyderabad
Red Avadavat in all its glory...

Their favourite spot - on Sarkanda - the elephant grass
Hey you !!

In India I really do not know the history this well but the story was - keep Lal Munia (Red-avadavat) in your homes, if there is ill omen on its way to affect you - the birds will die. Oh and there is no proof of that at all is another story - but this did catch on. The Red Avadavats were kept as pets in thousands. These were poor pets, in the sense that they would not last for long in captivity, this made the story more real and owners used to replace them by those caught in the wild. This along with the massive loss of habitat dwindled the numbers of the birds in the wild. They are banned as pets and believe you me - it did give this bird some respite. That respite would still not have a meaning if you as and individual is ready to look the other way - the day you see this bird being traded.

A pair in Mohali... 
Presenting the beautiful Red Avadavat, the Lal (red) Munia or the Strawberry Finch - the little red bird of Estrildidae family. Surprisingly the species name amandava and the common name avadavat are derived from the city of Ahmedabad in Gujrat, India, from where these birds were exported as pets in the former times. The males are bright red in the breeding season. One fun fact about these birds are the the beak turns red in May, darkens in November and December and turns black in April. This beak colouration is cyclic and linked to changes in Day-length.

The beautiful...

Typical habitat of Lal Munia
We as humans need to realise that this is the wealth that we have to pass down to our generations - the real worth of living in this world...

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