Over the past 50 winters the visiting Demoiselle cranes have been increasing in number with around 30,000 demoiselle cranes now overwintering.
The cranes assemble en masse just before dawn in the desert surrounding the village
As one they lift up from the desert to make the short flight into the centre of the village, into the chugga ghar to feed.
The story began in 1968 when a local man named Maloo was feeding his chickens and he noticed two strange creatures on the periphery vying for the food. Enraptured by the birds Maloo began to feed them. Since then word has spread about Khichan’s hospitality and the cranes have returned every year in increasing numbers.
After the feeding frenzy comes to an end village elders repeat the daily ritual of scattering 2 tonnes of grain throughout the fenced off area for the next morning's feed.
For the village residents life goes on as usual, the period of September to March means noisier mornings with the presence of the cranes but not much else is different.
The local children are still expected at school, the cranes providing little distraction, it is more the visits of tourists which the cranes attract that cause excitement amongst them.
The noisy neighbours are embraced, in fact lawsuits have been brought by the villagers against local electricity companies whose overhead wires cause injury to any unlucky cranes.
Named by Queen Marie Antoinette of France for their delicate appearance, and known locally as Kurja, the demoiselle is the smallest of the world’s crane species and despite their loud trumpeting call they move in a balletic synchrony that is hypnotic to watch.
The birds circle above whilst others feed, awaiting their turn to land in the chugga ghar to feed.
The grain is stored within the Chugga ghar feed house and the surrounding area is fenced to protect the birds from any attacks from the local feral dog population.
Lost in the Crowd
With the thousands of birds, it truly is one of India's greatest natural spectacles, at the same time perhaps one of the least known.