The phenomenon occurs every year just after monsoon season in the months of September and October. During this time, just after sunset and typically on dark, moonless nights between the hours of 6:30 and 10 o’clock, flocks of birds representing numerous different species mysteriously congregate here in large numbers and plummet to their deaths. The birds circle spasmodically and violently crash into the ground, trees, and buildings, littering the ground with hundreds of smashed, broken bodies in a frenzy of flapping wings and death. Some of the dazed birds who survive crashing will get back up and promptly dash themselves against something again. Mostly the birds seem to fixate and hone in on light sources, such as house lights and torches, before crashing to their doom.
For years the mass bird deaths at Jatinga have baffled both villagers and ornithologists alike, and a variety of theories have been put forth in an effort to try and figure out what is going on here. One idea is that monsoon fog, combined with high altitudes and strong winds, disorients the birds and leads them to hone in on light sources in an effort to stabilize their flight, causing them to crash into various obstacles in the process. Another theory is that weather changes during the season are having some effect on the magnetic fields of the area, making the birds’ instinctive navigational abilities go haywire. In addition, at least for the migratory species represented among the dead, it has been shown that these birds often lose their habitats due to monsoon flooding and then make a mad beeline past Jatinga in their efforts to escape.