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India's backyard bird count yields 62,000 sightings

India stood third in terms of the number of species observed (1,037) during the exercise as the country trailed Colombia (1,367) and Ecuador (1,129).
Last Updated 04 March 2024, 23:55 IST

Bengaluru: The number of Indians taking to birding is seeing a steady increase as the number of checklists (unique submissions of bird sightings) in India has gone up by nearly 7,000 during the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).

The GBBC 2024, a four-day exercise held across the country between February 16 and 19, saw participation of about 2,000 to 3,000 observers each day. A total of 62,287 checklists were submitted, up from about 55,000 checklists submitted last year.

“This was the first GBBC where all states and union territories of India were covered. In many of the states and union territories, birdwatchers were able to cover all of their districts,” Bird Count India said, listing Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra among such states.

India stood third in terms of the number of species observed (1,037) during the exercise as the country trailed Colombia (1,367) and Ecuador (1,129).

In the US, observers had made 1.72 lakh submissions, but the country stood in the 9th position when it comes to the number of species.

The annual bird count organised by the Cornell University and Audubon Society, the USA and coordinated by Bird Count India aims to pool the data from birdwatchers to monitor the status of birds.

Experts from eminent universities will assess the data and release the state of India’s birds report next month.

As many as 204 bird species were found to be on the decline during the exercise last year with the report recommending 14 birds, including Karnataka state bird Indian Roller (Neelakanta), to be added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.

Praveen J, scientist at Nature Conservation Foundation, said some of the recommendations were yet to be evaluated by the IUCN.

“Our recommendations are based on state of India’s birds data. The IUCN looks at the data from other countries. We believe high priority should be given to assess the status of forest wagtail and spot-winged starling,” he said, referring to the 44 per cent decline of the two birds in 10 years.

Near-threatened status was recommended for Indian Roller, whose abundance was found to be down by 30 per cent in 12 years. The IUCN will evaluate the status after assessing the data from other habitats of the bird. 

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(Published 04 March 2024, 23:55 IST)

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