Demoiselle cranes come to Khichan village in Rajasthan, India
© Pinkesh Bhati/Shutterstoc
The demoiselle cranes of Khichan. Demoiselle cranes
Around 150-kilometres north of Jodhpur, the dusty town of Khichan emerges through a dusty haze. At first glance, there’s nothing extraordinary about this small village in India’s Thar Desert. It’s an unlikely place for a wildlife spectacle. But for one bird species – the elegant demoiselle crane – the place is a paradise worth migrating across a continent for.
In Khichan, these birds are treated like royalty. On every day of their stay between September and March, visitors can witness the noisy, feathery spectacle of thousands of cranes – each with a wingspan of up to 1.8-metres – descending on the feeding area to feast on hundreds of kilos of grain left by the residents.
Demoiselle cranes are found in 47 countries around the world, and although they are not endangered, they face threats from habitat loss. They feed on plants, insects, grains, and small mammals. This village is ideal habitat, with its matrix of wetlands, cultivated lands, ponds, and food provisioning grounds.