Arrival of migratory songbird in Chitral heralds spring

.. by Zahiruddin

CHITRAL: The arrival of Eurasian golden oriole, a migratory songbird, in Chitral has heralded full bloom of spring season in the valley.

The people of all age groups in the valley eagerly wait for the arrival of the bird, locally named as mayon. It migrates from the Central Asia in the spring season till the season of autumn sets in.

Rahim Baig Khaksar, a poet, says that he goes into ecstasy when he hears singing of the bird. He adds that the bird starts singing well before dawn and he gets awakened every day by it while sleeping in his courtyard.


Eurasian golden oriole popular among classic and modern poets


Mr Khaksar says that mayon is equally popular with old and modern poets, who describe it in their poems to express their sentiments of both melancholy and joy. He says that it is the most often-described bird in Chitral.

He adds that naming children after the bird is also common as it signifies its popularity in the area.

“In the past when people were not conversant with the calendar system owing to lack of education, the arrival of mayon was used as signpost as the spring season was divided into two — the period before and after its arrival into the valley,” says the poet.

The population of the bird is equally distributed in all parts of the valley and one can hear the songs of the bird in any part of Chitral in the season. Its presence everywhere is one of its unique characteristics.

The small-sized bird is known for its deep yellow colour with black wings and tail with deep black strips around eyes. It is considered a shy bird, which camouflages itself in the canopy of the tree leaves. That’s it chooses tall trees as its habitat where it breeds.

Shafiqullah Khan, an ecologist, says that the bird migrates to Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan and hilly areas of Northern Punjab in the spring season and one can hear it in the Murree hills also.

He says that the bird feeds on insects and fruits with special liking for berry-bearing fruits and its population is not intimidated by the hunters due to the taboo associated with its hunting.

He adds that use of pesticides by farmers is the only danger it faces for its survival.

Mr Khan says that no formal research study has ever been conducted on the bird in Chitral or Gilgit-Baltistan due to the fact that its population is safe and secure in both the regions. He says that importance is always given to the study of the species, which face the danger of extinction.

The ecologist says that the bird has ecological importance in many respects. “It plays a role in dispersal of the seeds of certain fruits and their presences in an area indicates healthy environment,” he adds.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2017

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