Nature is filled with perplexing mysteries that even science has failed to explain. The unending quest to solve these puzzling phenomena only leads to even more questions. One of the most mind-boggling mysteries to have ever surfaced takes place in the small and unassuming village of Jatinga. Each year, different species of birds fly to the area only to meet a violent death of their own doing. The mass bird suicide has led to this question: why is this happening in the first place?
Jatinga Village: The Mysterious Valley of Bird Suicide
In the northeastern Indian state of Assam lies the scenic village of Jatinga. Located just over a ridge, it is filled with lush green forestry and is surrounded by nearby mountains. But the beautiful scenery is often overshadowed by the mass bird suicide that happens each year.
The annual phenomenon typically occurs at Jatinga between the late monsoon months of September and November. As soon as the darkness transcends over the village, hundreds of birds start to fly at an alarmingly high speed. They crash into the trees, buildings, and even the ridge itself. The scene the next day is grisly, hundreds of dead birds lie scattered across the fog-filled valley.
What is most interesting about this phenomenon is that birds are not known for having suicidal tendencies. Local villagers have come to believe that evil spirits could be causing this tragic event. But scientists have sought for more concrete answers for the mass suicide. Interestingly enough, the deaths only occur on 1.5 km long strip of the ridge, not toward the whole ridge.
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The suicides are not confined to a single bird species, everything from the little egret, pond heron, tiger bittern, Indian pitta, and kingfishers are some of the few types of birds that have been found dead in Jatinga. So far, a total of 44 species have died from this phenomenon. Scientists also discovered that a majority of the dead birds recorded are actually juvenile.
The running theory is that the bird suicide could be the result of these three elements: fog, cloud, and mist. The monsoon fog disorients the migratory birds, so they end up being drawn by the village lights and fly toward them. As soon as they start to descend, a majority of the birds end up hitting hard edges and wind up either dead or grievously injured.
But still, there is one more mystery that remains to be answered here. If birds are diurnal, then why would they be migrating at 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.? Turns out, scientists have yet to fill in this missing piece of the puzzle. Theories have suggested that it could be the result of constant flooding in Assam, forcing the birds to seek new habitat as quickly as possible. But even this theory has yet to be confirmed.
News of a mass bird suicide only garnered worldwide attention during the 1960s, though it remains unclear as to when it actually started. Nonetheless, the phenomenon has put the village of Jatinga on the map. The birds alone have boosted tourism in the area during the monsoon months, prompting the village to host its own Bird Suicide Festival. Some villagers have even gone as far as cooking the dead birds to make exotic delicacies. If you are interested in seeing this phenomenon unfold yourself, the nearest airport at the city of Guwahati is approximately 350 km away from the village.