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Jatinga , a place of mesmerizing natural beauty situated in the North-Eastern region of India is a village on a ridge, is located in the North Cachar Hills district, Assam State in India. It is 330km south of Guwahati. This small place of beauty is mainly inhabited by about 2,500 Jaintia tribal people.

Haflong (Assam),The tranquillity of Jatinga, a scenic village nestling among the Borail Hills range, is shattered every night by a disturbing occurrence - the 'mass suicide' of hundreds of birds.

Locals have been witnessing the eerie phenomenon from September to November for the last couple of years. As the sun sets, hundreds of birds descend on the village and fly full speed towards buildings and trees, crashing to their deaths. The repeated episodes are confined to a 1.5 km strip of the village.

With lush greenery and plentiful freshwater, Jatinga, the headquarters of the Dima Hasao district, some eight kilometres from here, is a resting place for many migratory birds. Haflong is 350 km from Guwahati.

Birds that have been sighted here over the years include the kingfisher, Indian pitta, green breasted pitta, green pigeon, black drongo, racket tailed drongo, whistling ducks, spotted doves, emerald doves, and grey heron.

But come September, and the locals brace for the ghastly sight.

Is it really suicide, or something else?

"It is not a suicide, to be precise. But the fact remains that birds are attracted by light and fly towards any object with a light source. This phenomenon still puzzles bird specialists," said Anwaruddin Choudhury, a well-known ornithologist in Assam, on the sidelines of the First International Jatinga Festival here.

B. Brahma, conservator of forests, Hills Circle, Haflong, also echoes the view.

"From past and present observations and experiences, it can be said that birds don't commit suicide," Brahma said.

The 'suicide', however, is just a part of the mystery. The more baffling question is why birds fly after sunset at all, as...
jatingavalley - Animals/Nature

Many ornithologists have studied about this mystic phenomenon of Jatinga, but no single hypothesis could give a comprehensive explanation about this mystery. One hypothesis is that this strange phenomenon is attributed to the electro-magnetic characteristics of the Jatinga ridge. The ridge is bounded nearly on all sides by fault planes. This combined with the mineral content of the valley with its high magnetic properties could be responsible for certain geo-physical changes in the atmosphere here. These are enhanced during the monsoon months of September and October when the ground water comes up almost to the ridge top of Jatinga. All these are believed to cause certain unusual changes in the gravitational pull around the region. It is possible that these affect the nervous system of the birds making them completely disoriented and confused when they happen to fly over the Jatinga ridge.

picture by fantafabulous
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