Safety net to be readied for wild birds

A bare tree at the city zoo, near the aviary housing pelicans, has become the focus of birdwatchers of late.

Assistant Conservator of Forests P.K. Jayakumar Sharma says it is the only identified nesting place in the city so far of the Oriental Darter, a “near endangered” waterbird soon to be designated as the “flagship species” for imminent wild bird conservation activities in the capital.

Nine nests

M. Ramesh, 40-year-old English teacher and member of the Travancore Natural History Society (TNHS), says he has spotted at least nine Oriental darter nests on the tree.

Characterised by its long slender neck and sharp bill, it is commonly known as the snake bird. Birdwatchers often spot it “spear diving” for fish at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple pond.


However, Punchakkari, the vast expanse of wetlands bordering the Vellayani freshwater lake, is its favoured hunting ground. The snake bird population in the city is estimated to be fewer than 50. On May 22, equipped with cameras and binoculars, a team of forest officials and TNHS members surveyed the wetlands for birds, spiders, odonates, and ants ahead of launching an action plan for conserving its wild bird population and biodiversity.

They recorded 36 species of birds, 42 types of butterflies, 12 different dragon and damsel flies, 15 species of ants, 25 kinds of spiders, 100 types of plants, and several varieties of water snakes and frogs. The birds face threats from poaching (often using air guns and nets spread over their foraging grounds), electric lines, plastic contamination, pollution, use of pesticides, loss of habitat, and climate change.

Mr. Sharma says motivating residents to plant fruit trees at homes and set up bird baths will be the focus of the drive. He says preserving the biodiversity of wetlands at Vellayani, Veli, and Akkulam will be accorded top priority.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 1:08:34 AM |

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