Steep decline in bird count worries birders

Black tailed godwit spotted during the Asian Waterbird Census  

Birders of Kochi could count less number of birds this year during the annual water bird count.

It was six days ago that bird enthusiasts of Kochi fanned out to 10 wetland locations to count birds as part of the Asian Waterbird Census 2021. The event was organised by Cochin Natural History Society in association with eBird, Birdcount India, and Wetlands International.

While there has been a spike in the number of bird species encountered this time when compared to those in the previous years, the number of birds has nosedived this year, says the report.

As many as 108 species, including Curlew Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Pallas’s Gull, Spot-billed Pelican, and Eurasian Spoonbill were spotted in the 10 locations.

Though birders would count 6,445 individuals in 2019, it dropped by half last year to 3,087. The total count for the current year was 4,763, which is slightly higher than that of 2020, but significantly lower that the 2019 figures, said a report prepared by K. Vishnupriyan Kartha, secretary of the Society.

The fall in numbers calls for a long-term study and analysis, the report said.

Flooding, siltation, and change in weather patterns might have also influenced the bird population. Wetland sites visited by birds were almost flooded, which restricts feeding of birds belonging to the category of Waders or shore birds.

The birds of the category, which are found along shorelines, look for food such as insects or crustaceans in mud or sand. During tilling and sowing, large congregations of birds are often seen along shorelines, the report said.

Though birders did not encounter any case of bird flu at the surveyed sites, heavy pollution caused by plastic refuse was visible, it added.

Lesser Whistling Duck was the most recorded species, as 924 individuals were counted on the day followed by Whiskered Tern (363).

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 12:00:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/steep-decline-in-bird-count-worries-birders/article33596320.ece

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