Kite flying: Impact on birds

Kite Flying: Impact on birds

I was taking my morning walk in the park when I saw a group of people excitedly crowding around. When I came closer I could see that there was a kite string on two trees and a crow is hanging upside down on the string. The crow’s wings had got entangled on the string. Two of them were trying to pick up a stick and hit at the string to break it. Finally the string was broken and the entangled crow and string fell on the ground. The people were not sure how to rescue the crow.

I moved in to help. one person gently held the crow and I slowly removed the knotted string. The string had got entangled in its wings and pulling it would have further damaged the wings. It took me several minutes to carefully remove the string.

All this while the crow was quiet. It didn’t even get scared and peck at us. Intelligent bird that it is, the crow simply waited for us to remove the string. However, not all was well with the crow. When we threw the crow up hoping that it will fly, it flapped its wings and landed on the ground and hopped on and hid below the hedge. Clearly the crow had some internal damage to either the nerves or wings and it was not capable of flying.

The people were happy that the crow got extricated and they left. I stood there for a while to watch it. I knew that it won’t be easy for the crow as there are feral dogs around. However, the crow was well hidden in the hedge.

Next day while I was on my walk, I found black feathers of the crow nearby. The crow had met its end. One of the dogs had got an easy meal.

Since I was on my morning walk, I could not click an image. However, the sight of an intelligent bird like the crow hanging on the kite string was disturbing. It reminded me of my childhood days when I used to fly kites and painstakingly do maanja by grinding tube light glass, use gum and then use it to cut other kites. It was an elaborate procedure with five kids involved in the entire process. Little did I realise the impact on birds.

These white kite strings are very fine and it is difficult for the birds to see and avoid it. Even if they don’t get hit when the kite is flying, it has a long lasting impact as seen in the entangled crow. The strings of kites get entangled in trees and it impacts many birds.

Kites entangled in Electric wires

Kites entangled in Electric wires


The common house crow is an intelligent bird and can make many fine acrobatic moves. If such a bird gets entangled in the thread, then one can imagine the impact on other birds, especially endangered birds like vultures etc.

There has been no systematic study to quantify the impact of bird kills due to kite flying. However, every year we get some sporadic reporting of impacts on birds, especially during the kite flying festivals in Gujarat during Uttarayan in the month of January. It is estimated that every year about 2500 birds get impacted In Gujarat alone. There are reports of bird deaths from many other states as well.

One easy way to reduce the problem is not to fly kites in early mornings and late evenings so that direct bird hits don’t happen during kite flying. However, birds will continue to get killed and maimed by strings entangled in trees.

Making manja for flying kites

Making manja for flying kites

Asking people not to use maanja (broken glass and gum) in their threads will also help. However, even a normal thread rubbing on your body is sufficient to cut your skin.Like catapult, which is a seemingly harmless toy but is used by many to kill lot of birds, the impact of kite flying on birds is not yet properly acknowledged. Limiting the kite flying only to designated open spaces will help so that the chances of kites and strings getting entangled in trees decrease.

Kites flying

Kites flying

When our population was small these festivals had negligible impact. However, with millions of people flying kites, the impact on our avian population is huge. I hope all of you can share this with others so that we can spread the awareness among people and save our winged friends.

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