Source: Nature: "Extraordinary Birds"
Major corporate support for the Nature collection was provided by Canon U.S.A. and SC Johnson. Additional support was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the nation’s public television stations.
In the small Indian village of Kundha Kulam, birds are inextricably linked to life and death. During monsoon season, masses of birds descend on the village just before the rains arrive. If the birds don't appear, the townspeople know the storms have changed course, leaving crops to die. In this video segment from Nature, learn about the role of birds in the culture and agriculture of Kundha Kulam.
As hummingbirds and other bird species evolved over time, they developed a variety of traits and skills beneficial to both the birds themselves and to the continuation of their species. The vast array of hummingbird species is an example of the result of these evolutionary processes. Certain birds have developed beaks allowing them to feed at particular flowers, others have cultivated brightly colored plumage, and yet others are known for the exceptional skills at navigation. Many highly skilled bird behaviors are innate - certain bird species are born with these abilities, as is the case of the homing pigeon’s innate homing ability. Scientists often do not know how these skills have been acquired in the population, except to note that these traits became advantageous for the birds as their populations evolved in their respective environments.
Here in south India, it’s the painful height of the dry season.
In the small town of Kundha Kulam, the time has come for birds to bring rain. Cattle, crops – the livelihood of the village depends on it. But this year, there has been no rain. The great flocks haven’t come to the village, and Kundha Kulam is facing its worst enemy – drought.
Flower Lady- Last year there were many colorful birds that looked like flowers on a tree. But this year, I don’t see any birds on the trees. Usually before January, they’ll start circling the trees, and when the people of the village see them, they know it’s time for the seeds to be sown and they know they’ll have a good harvest.
Reddiar – If the birds come we know we will be prosperous. If they don’t come, there will be trouble. The elders say that as gospel truth and we follow that literally.
But Kundha Kulam is a town of faith.
Here, children are taught early about what birds mean to their village. They are told of how generations ago when the farmers were desperate for rain, the birds answered their prayers.
Even now at the village shrine, people are praying – asking the gods to have mercy, to send help.
The prayers rise up … into the empty skies …
At last, a month overdue, the birds arrive, riding the winds of the monsoon.
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