Among the 338 bird species studied in India, 60% have shown long-term decline. Out of 359 species evaluated for current annual trend, 40% have shown declined, find second edition of the State of Indian Birds (SoIB) report released on Friday.
For the second edition of the report, a mammoth 30 million field observations from over 30,000 birdwatchers spanning across the country have collected and compiled the data.
The bird assessment report, released for the second time after 2020, says generalist species like shy Prinia, Rock Pigeon, Asian Koel, and Indian Peafowl have increased dramatically. Other common species like the Baya Weaver and Pied Bushchat are relatively stable, according to the report prepared using the data uploaded to the online platform eBird.
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The report stressed the urgent need for the conservation of the most critically threatened bird species in India which includes Jerdon’s Courser, Great Indian Bustard, White-bellied Heron, Bengal Florican, and Finn’s Weaver.
Habitat specialists — particularly birds of grasslands and other open habitats, wetlands, and woodlands — are declining rapidly. Among the most declining birds were the Raptors, migratory shorebirds and ducks.
In terms of diet, carnivores, insectivores, and granivores are declining more rapidly than omnivores or fruit- and nectar-eaters.
Separately, migratory species appear to be under greater threat than non-migrants. And species endemic to the Western Ghats–Sri Lanka region are faring worse than others.
Certain groups of birds are faring particularly poorly, including open habitat species like bustards and coursers, riverine sandbar-nesting birds like skimmers and some terns, coastal shorebirds, open-country raptors, and a number of ducks. The finding that a large number of common species are in trouble is a cause for concern. Equally worrying is that a considerable number of species lack the data to be assessed, the report concluded.
To mention, the SoIB 2023 is a first-of-its-kind collaborative effort of 13 government and non-government organisations, including the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), and Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), Worldwide Fund for Nature–India (WWF–India) among others, which evaluates the overall conservation status of the most regularly occurring bird species in India.
In the report, a total of 942 species of Indian birds were accessed for conservation priority by the experts and bird watchers among which 217 species were found to be stable or increasing in the last eight years. Also, 204 bird species shown decline in the past three decades.
“Out of total 942, 178 species have been classified as High Conservation Priority which includes Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Common Teal, Tufted Duck, Greater Flamingo, Sarus Crane, Indian Courser and Andaman Serpent Eagle,” the report said.
It further pointed out that out of 178 high conservation priority list, 94 were classified in this category based on both abundance trends and range, 45 based on range being Very Restricted, and an additional 39 based on a combination of their range and IUCN Red List status. Also, 14 species, including Indian Roller, recommended for IUCN Red List reassessment.
The abundance trend refers to change over 30 years while the current annual trend refers to change in over the past seven years.