45% of India’s bird species in HP : Great Backyard Bird Count —

White-eared Bulbul - 9; pix SShukla; Chandigarh; March 2011About 45 per cent of India’s total bird spices were reported in the state of Himachal Pradesh (HP) during Great Backyard Bird Count (GGBC) 2017 in the State.

As per eBird data, as many as 564 bird species, nearly 45 per cent of the 1,263 Indian bird species, were reported from Himachal during the 4-day bird count from February 17 to 20 (2017).

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) S K Sharma said till 5 March, a total of 2,833 bird check lists have been uploaded to eBird from all districts of HP, with highest number 453 species reported from Kangra district.

During four days of GBBC-2017, 319 species were reported from across 8 districts of Himachal, 83 bird check lists were uploaded to eBird and over 16000 birds were counted, said Sharma.

The data was contributed by nearly 50 bird watchers including staff of the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department and volunteers, he said.

A detailed report on various bird species spotted during the event is being prepared and would be published shortly, said Sharma.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is the first online citizen-science project aimed at collecting data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

It was launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, a powerful source of information on birds, he explained.

Sharma said the Department’s Wildlife Wing intends to carry out such exercises in future and participate in global events, especially citizen-science projects, which will help in understanding bird populations and its distribution across the state.

Himachal Forest Department has been participating in GGBC since 2013 with the GBBC-India coordinating the bird count in India with several Indian groups and organisation interested in birds. Participation in GBBC is open to all.

It is simple and involves birding for at least 15 minutes, listing and counting all the species during the GBBC days and the birds listed are uploaded to eBird, a website for recording and maintaining the bird sighting data, based at the Cornell University s Laboratory of Ornithology.

The annual snapshots of birds populations obtained during GBBC help scientists in answering several questions like how bird population is distributed across the country, how they are affected by habitat changes and whether population and distribution are changing.

The event is termed as a Citizen-science initiative as it engages and allows the general public to collect scientific data useful for nature conservation, Sharma said.

The Wildlife Wing of Himachal Forest Department took a pioneering initiative to participate in the GBBC in 2017 with Sharma spearheading the initiative with zoo biologist Lakshminarasimha R and Wildlife Guard Santosh Thakur coordinating the entire exercise by collating and analyzing the data. (PTI)

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