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Bermuda Triangle, but for Birds – Jatinga

You all must be aware of the Devil’s Triangle Bermuda Triangle and the mysterious stories associated with it, right? How several aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under strange circumstances there, is still unexplained. But have you heard about the Bermuda Triangle where birds disappear in a similar manner? Jatinga, a small village in Assam is a strip of land where birds die bizarrely. Read on to find out how!

Image credits: Life through Aby’s Lens

Where is Jatinga?

330 kilometres (210 mi) south of Guwahati, lies a small village on the ridge in Dima Hasao district, Assam. Inhabited by about 2,500 KhasiPpnar tribal people and a few Assamese, this hamlet is the site for an odd phenomenon- bird suicide. Yes, you heard that right! Birds tend to become suicidal when they enter the sky right above this patch of land.

Image credits: Haunted Stories

What is this unusual occurrence? 

Over the course of several years, birds of numerous species have flown to their deaths on this small land. But the cause for this Bermuda Triangle of Avians’ death remains largely unexplained despite copious studies by India’s most prestigious ornithologists. A number of theories have been proposed to support the fact, some of which suggest that a combination of high altitude, high winds, and fog disorients the birds and that they get attracted to the light of the village (bright light itself has been known to disorient birds) as a source of flight stabilization. Change in the magnetic qualities of the underground water has also been stated as another reason for disorientation in the birds.

There used to be a time when even the villagers were a part of this gruesome killing act. They believed the birds flying over them to be “spirits flying from the sky to terrorize them”, which led them to beat the birds to death using bamboo sticks. The same has changed since the time many wildlife enthusiasts and bird societies in India have reached out to the villagers explaining the phenomenon. Statistically speaking, the death rate of the birds, after the villagers have been educated, has come down to 40%.

When does this happen?

This phenomenon is usually observed during the end of the monsoon months, usually in September and October, and on dark, foggy nights with no moon in sight. Between 6 and 9.30 pm, several species of birds flying over Jatinga are disturbed by not the locals, but the dark skies. This leads them to descend downwards towards the light source, i.e the village. Not confined to a single bird species, this event leads hundreds of birds to plunging to their death. 

Image credits: Tersebox

What’s even more strange is that the numerous occurrences of this event do not affect the birds and they continue to fly to their death unexplainably. These birds have been called juvenile by renowned ornithologist, Anwaruddin Choudhury and the species affected include tiger bittern, black bittern, little egret, pond heron, Indian pitta, and kingfishers as well as hill partridge, green pigeon, emerald dove, necklaced laughingthrush, black drongo.

This mystery remains unravelled and more has been explained about it in the book The Birds of Assam by Anwaruddin Choudhury. After reading about it, would you visit this Valley yourself?

Curated by: Shivangi