New sparrow species sighted in Kutch

New sparrow species sighted in Kutch


It is a new addition to the list of the country’s birds. A Rajasthan-based bird expert, Jugal Tiwari, has recorded and photographed Pale Rock Sparrow or Pale Rockfinch in the Rann of Kutch.

Pale Rock Sparrow

The tiny bird Pale Rockfinch or sparrow (Carpospiza brachydactyla) is a native of Middle East and central Asia and has been sighted in Iran, and the Baluchistan region in Pakistan along with Turkey, Israel and other countries in Europe.

It has been recorded for the first time in the Indian subcontinent, that too in good numbers.

The bird which prefers its natural habitat of subtropical and tropical dry shrub and temperate grasslands, was discovered by four bird experts, including Jugal Tiwari on January 27.

“I came across two flocks, and my estimate is that there were not less than 250 in number. The flock landed 20 metres away from me. They were vocal, emitting double musical call notes. As I approached them they vanished into the nearby juliflora bushes. Many birds were feeding in rocky areas, so it was difficult to locate them on the ground,” said Tiwari.

Tiwari works with the Centre for Desert and Ocean at Kutch, which promotes ecotourism, nature education and wildlife conservation in Gujarat.

He says he sighted the birds five times after January 27 in isolated parts of the Rann of Kutch.

“Even today (February 20) I saw a flock numbering above 200. Initially, when I saw them, I mistook them to be Trumpeter Finch juv's. I sent the images to some of the experts like Rob Tizard, a Myanmar-based ornithologist, who confirmed it was Pale Rock Sparrow. I also consulted  Krys Kazmierczak from Yugoslavia and US-based ornithologist Pamela Rasmusseen, who agreed with Tizard’s opinion and said that they are new species to the subcontinent,” Tiwari told Deccan Herald.

Tiwari, who earlier worked with Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Bird Migration and Grassland Ecology Projects, says that the bird is much larger than the Greater Short-toed Lark.

It has a stout beak and finch-like appearance and remains in flock. Shy in nature, the bird feeds mainly on grass seeds.

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