The State of Odisha is home to 552 species of birds, spread across the length and breadth of the state, the majestic Indian roller being the State bird of Odisha. The sheer beauty of some of them have captured the imagination of wildlife lovers, poets and general public at large since time immemorial for their recreational values while adding to the income of thousands of families through eco-tourism. However, Chilika lagoon situated on the eastern coast is the largest wintering ground of the migratory birds in the Indian Sub-continent. Often, the water birds occur in amazing number in this wetland and is the most prominent factor in attracting tourist to Chilika. To create a niche in the tourist map of the world, Forest and Environment Department, Odisha Tourism Development Corporation and Chilika Development Authority is organizing the first National Chilika Bird Festival at Mangalajodi on 27th & 28th of January,2018.

    Chilika has emerged as the most spectacular winter migratory area for the ducks and breeds. Not only the diversity, but also the sheer abundance of waterbirds makes Chilika a unique wetland in the entire country. Studies between 2001 to 2017 in association with BNHS reveals that the lake supports between 7,00,000 – 9,50,000 waterbirds annually. Majorities of these birds are migratory in nature, breeding outside the Indian sub-continent in the palearctic region and covering many national and international boundaries during their long annual migration to the lagoon in well-defined flyways. 228 species of birds have been recorded in Chilika through a long term study in association with Bombay Natural History Society. 129 among them are waterbirds, while few others are wetland dependent. The lagoon acts as a staging, molting, wintering grounds for migration species while breeding ground for residence species.

    Nalabana Bird Sanctuary (15.53 sq.km.) situated in the central part of the lake attracts more than 30% of total bird population of the lake. Mangalajodi is primarily a fresh water zone in the northern sector of the lake over 58 sq.K.M. with marshes emergent vegetation are reed-base is the second largest congregation for the birds. The other important congregation sites for birds in Chilika are Parikuda, Barunakuda, Kansari, Badagotha, Bhusandpur, Rambha and Tinimuhana.

    The two days festival will be held at Manglajodi. On the first day, there will be workshop to disseminate to the public at large, the diversity of Chilika bird along with film shows. A photography and painting competition will be organsied before the festival and winning entries will be displayed at the site. One Group/individual will be rewarded for their contribution to the conservation of avifauna in and around Chilika. Stalls of BNHS and other allied organizations will display the method of ringing of birds at the venue.

    On the second day, the festival will conclude with delegates being taken around in five different routes to explore the rich biodiversity of Chilika, birds in particular.