KERALA

One-year bird monitoring programme

KOZHIKODE, JULY 24. A comprehensive data on over 40 listed bird species of Kerala, `Common bird monitoring programme of Kerala', is in the process of being compiled.

Though the monitoring programme is spread over a year (June 2004 to June 2005), it is likely to be extended. Review meetings will be held every two months.

Talking to The Hindu , the all-India coordinator, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore, P. Pramod said the survey would be extended to the four southern States. In Kerala, the programme is being coordinated by the Kozhikode-based Malabar Natural History Society. E. Sasi Kumar is the coordinator of the programme in Kerala. In Kerala, it is being conducted with the assistance of environmentalists, social activists and bird lovers.

Basis of the programme

The basis of the programme is a survey of 14 select most common bird species conducted by 500 school students in Tamil Nadu last year. The main objective is to monitor the population of the common bird species of the State.

The programme was launched in Kozhikode on World Environment Day on June 6. Detailed datasheets are being distributed through the coordinators in all the districts in the State.

Some of the birds listed in the datasheet include the house sparrow, house crow, jungle crow, common myna, black kite, brahminy kite, shikara, Asian koel, crow pheasant, peacock, red-whiskered bulbul, spotted dove, blue rock pigeon and white-breasted kingfisher.

The Malabar society secretary, Jafer Pallot, said birdwatchers and institutions besides school students of nature/eco clubs are welcome to join the endeavour.

Sathyan, Malabar society member, said the monitoring programme is being carried out in the backdrop of a survey conducted in wildlife sanctuaries which recorded a dwindling count of some common bird species such as crow pheasant. On the other hand, there is a rise in the population of cormorants.

Reasons

The monitoring programme is expected to throw light on the reasons for the fall or rise in the population of specific bird species. Kerala, for instance, accounts for 10 to 12 globally threatened species endemic to the Western Ghats. Disappearance of sholas is reportedly one of the reasons for this.

A study by the ornithologist, Salim Ali, had highlighted the reason for the dwindling population of the baya sparrow that fed on low-yielding paddy varieties. The disappearance of these paddy varieties in Kerala had resulted in this bird species disappearing.

Urbanisation, resulting in the destruction of bird habitats, is traced as the reason for the decline in the population of yellow-wattled lapwing.

The presence of the house sparrow to rural areas is because of the introduction of retail grain business in rural pockets.

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