Some time before 1984, in my childhood, I read a science fiction story about a crew that was assigned a peacekeeping mission to a planet whose inhabitants were at war. Apparently, they were killing each other over the rights to a migratory bird. This bird would migrate from one hemisphere to another with the seasons, and the inhabitants of the hemisphere where the birds were not located would all go into psychosis until the birds returned.

However, a segment of the population was not affected by the birds' disappearance, and it was this portion who cared for the afflicted, and pursued the war against the others. I think that they had three 'genders' for lack of a better term: men, women, and eunuchs. One gender was called "merldives" I think.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F! Nicely detailed question, but you might still be able to improve it. Check out the suggestions for asking good story-id questions to see if they help you recall anything else to edit into your question. Like when was "years ago?"
    – DavidW
    Jun 3 '20 at 1:16

Someone on another forum I frequent asked a question with a very similar description. It was identified as Bibblings (1979) by Barbara Paul.

The person who identified it uses the name MEBuckner. Credit to him.

I've not read it myself, I can't give you any details about the book, but I pass on the name that he supplied.

Lodon-Kamaria, a planet in a perpetual state of war. No one in the Federation of United worlds knew what the Lodonites and Kamarians were fighting about, nor, in the normal course of events, would anyone have cared. But this was a world rich in alphidium, the most precious substance in the galaxy - and so, Lodon-Kamaria would have to become a member of the Federation. And it was up to the Diplomatic Corps team, nicknamed the Anglo-Saxo Invaders, to do the recruiting.

It should have been an easy assignment: Either make peace between the Lodonites and the Kamarians, or figure out which side would be easier to deal with and see that it won the war. That would have been the reasonable, rational approach. But on a world where everyone is insane, reason just doesn't apply...!

One of the reviews mentions:

Emissaries land on a planet and contact both societies on a world where a flock of birds that migrate from one side to the other once a year either cause stability and warfare (when they're there) or stupefied entropy and chaos (when they're not).

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