Flora and FaunaWildlife


Green Minute News:

Scientific observations on tagged Bar Headed Geese is being done in the wetlands of Karnataka. The collars or tags on these migratory birds at Magadikere Bird Conservation Reserve reveal a fascinating story about their personal and travel history.

The record of collar tagged Bar Headed Geese at Magadikere is the highest in India compared to other wetlands.

The collared geese have unique numbers or codes through which the release date and locations can be traced and this is an important exercise worldwide to observe the bird’s unique migration patterns. The Bar Headed geese are one among the long-distance migratory birds and so, researchers often choose them for ringing or collaring.


In fact, Somappa Pashupatihal, Forest Watcher at Magadikere CR has religiously kept the geese count as well as the collar tagged or radio collard ones since 2012. The Karnataka Forest Department has so far recorded 160+ collar tagged and a radio collared geese arrival twice in Magadikere tank.

All the collared birds were from Mongolia which were tagged by Dr Martin Gilbert, Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society and his team.

The migration of Bar Headed Geese to Magadikere wetlands in Gadag district in the winter months has attracted a lot of studies and observations. Every year, these high-flying birds arrive for roosting and wintering in suitable places in India and then return during March-April to their homelands in Tibet, Mongolia, Russia, and other countries.

Observations have revealed that geese with green collar tags – P79 and P71 have visited Magadikere for five years while the ones with tags P71 and F71 have visited for four years regularly. It is evident that Magadikere wetland has a very healthy and safe environment. So, a maximum number of Geese including tagged ones have been migrating from Mongolia every winter to this wetland.

The observations of collared geese at Magadikere wetlands in Shirhatti taluk is being done on a regular basis by Karnataka Forest Department (KFD) and as also by a committed group of wildlife researchers, naturalists, and birders. Most collared geese with their numbered tags have been found to be from Mongolia and observers have contacted the concerned scientists to elicit the travel data and history about these migratory birds which crosses the mighty Himalayan range to come to India.

The Karnataka Forest Department team which has observed and maintained data of these birds include Suma Hireholi, Range Forest Officer (RFO), Shirhatti Range, Sangamesh Neeralgai, Dy RFO, S L Vibhuti, Dy RFO, Laxmeshwar Range, Ramanagouda Goudra, Hallikeri, Prakash Ganager, Mahesh, Basanagoud Marigoudra Somappa Pashupatihal, Forest Watcher, Magadikere. Apart from this, the Bar Headed Geese observation team included Manjunath S Nayak, Biodiversity Researcher, Ron, Sangamesh S Kadagad, naturalist, Jakkali, and Harish N, Birder, Kanakpur.

Once again, this year, the collared geese were spotted at Magadikere much to the delight of bird watchers. Most tagged birds had the green coloured collar which showed that the birds were from Mongolia. A bird with P 91 number on its band around its neck has been coming to Magadikere wetland in consecutive years since 2019.

Further, nine more geese with collars have been recorded this year. “The bird with P 91 collar was spotted on 8 Dec, 2019 while this time, it was spotted on 10 Dec, 2022. The arrival of this goose – all the way from Mongolia has been recorded often,” said a forest official at Magadikere Bird Conservation Reserve. 

The Karnataka Forest Department officials at Magadikere have been maintaining a list of collared birds visiting this tank since 2014. The collated data is then sent to the higher officials for further studies while the information is also shared with birding groups who keep a track of the same.

Manjunath Nayak adds, “Tagging birds with rings is a way of examining the migratory movements of birds across countries. This has been done for several species which provides many valuable information such as identity, age, travel pattern, causes of death, composition, etc. Birders from different parts of India visit this place and if any tagged/radio collared geese is sighted, the information is passed and entered in the KFD’s register.”

The Bar Headed Geese are usually collared with a tag containing an alphanumeric notation on the band which is bound either around the neck or legs. The purpose of marking, banding, or tagging any bird is to study the species.

By recording all sightings of a given bird after it is captured and marked, scientists can at least form a rough picture of where a bird travels, it rests and breeds, and so on. The larger and more conspicuous the markings, the more likely – the bird is noticed, recorded, and reported.

Scientific studies were conducted by Yashpal Kshirsagar, DCF, Sonal Vrishni, DCF, Anil Kumar Ratan, APCCF and S L Vibhuti, Dy RFO from KFD at Magadikere between 2015-2020 which was published in the Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies.

These studies have revealed that the Bar-headed geese followed a fixed migration pattern with the peak season starting from October-November, reaching the highest count in Jan-Feb, and finally subsiding in March-April every year.

The study also discerned that the feeding pattern of aquatic birds coincided with the local crops grown in the vicinity which are at the harvesting stage during the peak season of migration.