Where did the birds go?

Published on May 6, 2022 by

Ornithologists say that over the years, Bengaluru has noticed a decline in the number of migratory birds.

May 7, 2022

Shubhangi Mishra

Bengaluru: Ashwin Viswanathan, an ornithologist at Bird Count of India, believe due to change in habitat, lake encroachments, hunting, and a global decline in bird species, most migratory birds choose to migrate to places other than Bengaluru. Over the last few decades, seasoned birdwatchers noticed a drop in the population of migratory birds in the city.

According to the State of India’s Birds 2020 report, migratory shorebirds, gulls and terns showed a 50 percent decline in the long term. Mr. Viswanathan added that, “Nowadays one does not see bar-headed goose in the city. That is very likely because these bar-headed goose need agricultural fields to feed in. In a city like Bangalore you don’t have that kind of agricultural habitat which is a nesting place for migratory birds. That is the why such species will not come to the city.”

Another ornithologist M.B. Krishna informed that water birds have declined by around 80 percent over the past couple of decades. He said, “The species hit the most are perhaps the ones which live on the shorelines of water bodies.”

Birdwatchers in the city also expressed concern on how India falls behind many other countries in monitoring and tracking the range of bird species. They said that this makes it difficult to figure out the early warnings of a species’ decline in the country.

Environmentalists explained the decline of birds in the city causes an ecological imbalance. Without a large number of birds coming to the city, insects and pests cannot be controlled naturally. Sandeep Anirudhan, an environmentalist, said that as the city grew, the government started to encroach all the wetlands. He added that wetlands are the most common place for migratory birds to nest. With the city concretizing all its wetlands, it is sending away all the migratory birds away. However, birdwatchers said that, in order to bring migratory birds back to the city, the government should work towards increasing the number of wetlands, re-develop lakes so that these migratory birds return to the city.

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