Follow the flock this Pongal

Ashy Drongo

Ashy Drongo   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Pongal Bird Count, conducted for the third consecutive year has redefined the relationship between people and the common neighbourhood birds

Have you ever stopped by the roadside neem tree to listen to the mynahs talk or the koyals sing? Ever wondered how many varieties of birds share the space in your backyard? Here’s an opportunity for all of us to know our avian neighbours better. The Pongal Bird Count (PBC-2017), an annual birding event is set to happen across all districts in the State during the festival holidays (January 15 to 18).

This Pongal, just spare 15 minutes to scan the skyline for a pair of wings flapping across. “There are no hard-and-fast rules for Pongal birding, as we are involving amateur birders and anyone interested in birds. One can even count the crow seen,” says Ganeshwar SV, one of the coordinators.

“Earlier, people had a meaningful relationship with neighbourhood birds. I remember women placing food on a banana leaf on the roof daily to attract crows. Though a religious belief, the practise was part of our relationship with nature. People hardly have the time for all this nowadays and to most of us the significant decrease in the crow population does not even strike,” says Kumaresan Chandrabose, a regular participant. The idea of PBC is to familiarise oneself with the birds that live nearby our homes. The participants may choose any area or region for birding – it could be even one’s backyard or office premises, both urban and rural residential pockets and other places.

This year the Madurai Nature Forum has roped in students from interested colleges and schools for the event. Students of The American College, Lady Doak College, Yadava and Meenakshi College among others will be taking out birding events and uploading the list on the ebird online portal. “We have been taking part for two years and the students enjoy birding. Many have learnt to identify the common birds. Sometimes, we also end up discovering rare and new birds in the areas,” says M.Rajesh, Assistant Professor at The American College. “Participants are briefed and given a list containing names of common birds along with a pictorial thumbnail before they go out birding. That way, it helps even beginners to compare, identify and count what they see.”

Priya Rajendran, Assistant Professor of Zoology at the Lady Doak College, says that over 100 students are set to participate this year. “We have divided them into groups to conduct birding at different places. Two groups are doing it in our college campus in Chokkikulam and the extension campus in Velichanatham village. Others have chosen Avaniyapuram, Samanatham and pockets around the city, so that we get to list a variety of water and land birds.”

“PBC was started by Tamil Birders Network on the lines of Onam Bird Count that happens in Kerala. From just a few districts in the first year, now we have enthusiastic volunteers participating from across the State,” says Ganeshwar. “The event has helped us study bird migration and behaviour in our immediate surroundings.”

For more details visit http://www.birdcount.in/events/pongal-bird-count/pongal-bird-count-2017/ or call 9849830630. Lists can be uploaded on ebird.org/India.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 3:46:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/Follow-the-flock-this-Pongal/article17022718.ece

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