In a major effort to map 18 common bird species in the Indian sub-continent, the Nature Forever Society, an NGO involved in conservation of sparrows, launched a Common Bird Monitoring Programme.

In a major effort to map 18 common bird species in the Indian sub-continent, the Nature Forever Society, an NGO involved in conservation of sparrows, launched a Common Bird Monitoring Programme, on the World Sparrow Day on Tuesday.

As part of the project, which was unique as it involved people from all walks of life, vital data of population and distribution of these common birds across the country such as House Sparrows, House Crow, Rock Pigeon, Rose-ringed Parakeets, as well as the lesser known ones as Ashy Prinia and Hoopoe would be gathered.

Mohammed Dilawar of the NFS said the data would help map the presence/absence and the population/distribution of these common birds. Currently there was no scientific data on these species. “The project will help fill critical gaps and generate interesting data over a period of time, which can be statistically analysed for launching conservation efforts that could save these birds from extinction.”

The project, supported by Jaypee Group, would map the common bird species not only in India but in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The Jaypee Group's IT arm was taking care of the technology and designing aspects of the mapping.

Mr. Dilawar said most Western countries had such programmes involving citizens dating back to 100 years, with the oldest being the Christmas Bird Count in the U.S., which has been running since 1900. “Bird monitoring acts as an early warning system to initiate remedial measures to save species from extinction before it is too late.” A case in point is the critically endangered status of the vulture, which was a common raptor in the country once upon a time. A detailed monitoring system would have helped in examining the status of the vulture and prevented its drastic decline.

“In India, there is a lack of data on bird population. Although it is common knowledge that the population of House Sparrow is declining, there is no percentage or figure to map the exact decline. This is because of the lack of area-wise data on common birds,” he said. The format of the programme was simple, and the selection of the birds had been done keeping in mind the ability of the common man to identify these species. “Our goal is to bring people closer to nature, help make conservation a practical and do-able task and break the myth that conservation or research is the domain of scientists and researchers”, he added.