Avian enthusiasts have called for retaining open natural spaces for preserving the birds’ population.
Mumbai: At least 234 bird species were sighted during the Bird Race 2019 campaign held this Sunday, which is around the average of sightings during the past years. It remains less than the sightings recorded a decade ago in 2008 i.e. 261. Even as 86 species of aquatic birds were seen, participants were shocked to see many freshwater wetlands being diminished to garbage pools. Avian enthusiasts have called for retaining open natural spaces for preserving the birds’ population.
The participants recorded 75 species of birds in the forest and its edge along with 64 species in grasslands and scrubs. More than 90 species of birds were seen in urban areas. The sightings during the bird race had hit an all-time low in 2016 (215), after which, they increased slightly in 2017 (239) and 2018 (235).
Among the rare sightings was the black-naped Oriole, which was declared the bird of the day during the 2019 Bird Race. The groups also spotted Black Eagle and Indian Blue Robin. There was also a reported sighting from Tungareshwar of an Indian yellow tit, a species that has not been previously reported from this north Konkan region.
However, participants claimed an unabated decline in regular bird habitats like freshwater wetlands and grasslands and scrubs, which could hinder the growth of the species. “Numerous freshwater bodies are either on the verge of total disappearance or have been turned into virtual garbage pools. It could turn detrimental for the birds leading to their displacement,” said Sunjoy Monga, ornithologist who organised the bird race with the support of HSBC and Tata Chemicals.
Experts also highlighted that there was a general drop in overall sightings of raptors (birds of prey) and with lesser frequency of most species across the region.