Visa and other travel document are a prerequisite for humans, but not for our winged friends who can cross borders without a qualm. Birds have varied migration patterns and many exquisite birds make their way to India. The nation plays host to a number of migratory birds, especially during winters. These migratory birds fly to India in search of lush feeding grounds, and also to escape the extreme winter in their native habitat.
As birds are vital to biodiversity and environment, many events take place to focus on the conservation of bird species.
One such significant effort was the annual four-day birdathon named Great Backyard Bird Count carried out in February across the world. In India, the birdathon is organized every year by a not-for-profit organization eBird. This year it was held from February 17-20 as part of an on-campus event and 289 campuses across 23 states took part in the census. In the Delhi-NCR region, 13 campuses participated in the birdathon to document bird species of their campuses.
“Documentation work within each campus is done by following a protocol of collecting as many as 15 checklists of species and uploading the list of all birds seen,” says Soma Ateesh, Volunteer, Delhi-NCR, eBird, speaking with G’nY correspondent.
The campuses that were covered in Delhi birdathon were Aryabhatta College (Delhi University), Ram Lal Anand College (DU), DU South Campus, Holy Family Hospital, Ambedkar University, Shiv Nadar University, Amity University (Haryana), Shikshantar Public School, DU North Campus, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Teri University and RK Puram Sector 3 .
JNU with 82 winged species marked the highest diversity amongst of all campuses. The birds spotted in its campus included:
- Oriental honey buzzard – a winter migrant to India;
- Booted eagle – a migratory bird of prey that travels to India during winter;
- Eurasian sparrowhawk – a small bird of prey with short, broad wings and long tail both adapted for maneuvering through trees, and;
- Chestnut-breasted bunting also known as white capped bunting a winter visitor in India.
While speaking to G’nY correspondent, Professor Surya Prakash, a zoologist from Jawaharlal Nehru University said that “JNU has close to 200 species of birds, nearly 90 species of butterflies, dozen mammals, two dozen snakes and over 10 species of lizards endemic to native Aravali flora. Isn’t it amazing to have such rich biodiversity in the heart of the city? It is, of course, an achievement for us.”
Also stressing on the need for conservation of biodiversity he further added, “we are keen to conserve the rich biodiversity of the campus through coexistence and helping them live in harmony with the human population.”
All the participant campuses of this birdathon took up different ways to engage more students to participate in the event. While the Centre for Urban Ecology and Sustainability department of Ambedkar University focused on conducting an orientation session for students followed by the birding activity in all the campus locations, Amity University, Haryana held a special technical session on the ‘art of bird watching’ conducted in collaboration with the Bombay Natural History Society followed by a campus visit for students.
It is important to note that different species of birds have different life patterns, which include behavioral, nesting, breeding; feeding patterns. Thus counting of birds in form of birdathon not only helps scientists and conversationalists to understand the distribution of birds around the country but also helps in measuring the effect of change in climate and habitat on different bird species.