India’s Bird Population Going Down Sharply

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India’s Bird Population Going Down Sharply

Much of India’s bird population has sharply declined in the past few decades, according to a major study.

The State of India’s Birds report relied on the observations of more than 15,000 birdwatchers who helped assess the status of 867 birds.

It found the greatest decline in the numbers of eagles, vultures, warblers and migrating shorebirds.

But the population of peafowl, the national bird, has increased significantly.

Hunting and habitat loss are the two main reasons behind the decline. “Collision” with electricity lines, according to the study, is a “prime current threat” to birds.

The report, the first comprehensive study of its kind, made two assessments: the drop in bird population over the last 25 years, and over the last five years.

“In the long-term trend assessment, there was appropriate data available only for 261 species, of which 52% had declined [in numbers]. For current trends, there was data only for 146 species, of which [numbers of] nearly 80% were declining,” said MD Madhusudan, co-founder of Nature Conservation Foundation.

It’s based on more than 10 million observations, drawn from sightings and meticulous notes made by professional birdwatchers.

The data was then collated on eBird, a global crowdsourced database that has real-time data on the distribution and abundance of birds.

Species that have suffered the highest declines

  • White-rumped Vulture
  • Richard’s Pipit
  • Indian Vulture
  • Large-billed Leaf Warbler
  • Pacific Golden Plover
  • Curlew Sandpiper

Species whose numbers have increased

  • Rosy Starling
  • Feral Pigeon
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Ashy Prinia

(Source: State of India’s Birds report)

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The local sparrow population was found to be roughly stable across the country as a whole, although it has fallen in the major cities.

The population of migratory birds – both long distance and within the subcontinent – also showed a “steep decline”.

The report says that since the 1990s, the numbers of several species of vultures, bustards and other specialist grassland birds have also drastically dropped.

India’s Bird Population Going Down Sharply

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