Conserving bird species

Saturday, March 29, 2014
By Gayatri Sahasrabuddhe

Nature Forever Society launches initiative for citizens to track 18 common birds and then save them from extinction 

There are a number of birds existing in India, but no scientific data is available regarding the numbers of common bird species. We are already suffering the repercussions of the ignorance towards their conservation and this is prevalent in the dwindling numbers of many bird species like the vulture and sparrow.

It is only when scientific data and figures will be collated and made available that proper action can be taken to safeguard and protect them. Thanks to an initiative by the Nature Forever Society, everyone including you can take part in this first of its kind national Citizen Science Program – Common Bird Monitoring of India (CBMI). Launched in 2012, 18 common birds in India are being tracked and a lot more still needs to be done. It is with the participation of every citizen that these birds can be tracked effectively and then safeguarded before we lose them.

Arpita Bhagat, Project Manager, CBMI (Common Bird Monitoring of India) said, “There are about 1,310 species of birds found in India. In CBMI, we have selected 18 of the commonly seen birds across the Indian sub-continent. We have selected the birds which are one – clearly identifiable (so people do not need experience or education to participate) by all without any difference between the male and female of the species; two – which are found across the Indian sub-continent and are not restricted or seasonal or migratory in nature.”

All you need to do is spend around 15 minutes observing birds and their numbers from your preferred location and at your convenience. You then need to log on to www.cbmi.in and register. After geo-tagging your location, enter the numbers of birds spotted including the absence of any species. Very simply put all you need to do is take some time out from your busy schedule to note down the numbers of birds you spot and the absence of any birds too. You can do this at any time and any number of times from any location like your window/ office/ school etc. as long as you add and mark the location. Also remember that morning and evening are the best time to spot birds. You can do this from multiple locations too. Noting down the absence of any bird is as important as noting down the presence. The more frequent your entries the better, with the minimum being once a month.

The birds being tracked include the House Sparrow, Indian Robin, Black Kite, Common Myna, White throated Kingfisher among others. Images and other details of the birds being tracked can be downloaded from www.cbmi.in/Downloads.html “There isn't any monitoring initiative or conservation campaigns on common birds in the country, CBMI is thus a crucial platform. It bridges the gap between lacking scientific data or evidence which would go a long way to make policy changes once the people's participation takes weight. Since our program is simplistic in its essence, anyone can get involved and it is not limited to birders or professional bird-watchers to be successful unlike other such bird monitoring programs. Some years down the line, we hope to have increased people's participation and come out with scientific reports that can initiate dialogue with policy-makers for positive change. As they say, change begins at home, so does conservation,” added Bhagat.

A mobile application that facilitates participation is also on the anvil to target the youth and, of course, busy citizens who don't have the time to log on and enter data. For more information visit: www.natureforever.org/www.worldsparrowday.org/www.cbmi.in

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