BNHS to tag 2,000 birds to study migratory route
Mumbai Close to 2,000 birds, including migratory and resident species, will be tagged by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) in Maharashtra, as part of an exercise to study avian movements along important wetlands of the state. The study was commissioned by the state forest department in July 2021.
The project has been approved by the Maharashtra government at a cost of ₹2.77 crore, and is an extension of the already ongoing BNHS research under the banner of ‘Elucidating the status of migratory waterbirds in ornithologically important wetlands of Maharashtra; Central Asian Flyway perspective.’
Researchers involved with the study confirmed that about 200 birds of 23 different species have already been tagged with aluminium rings across six ornithologically important wetlands, including the Nandur-Madhmeshwar Sanctuary, Gangapur Dam, Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary, Hatnur Dam, Ujjani Reservoir and Visapur Dam.
“For the past couple of years, we have been monitoring birds at the coastal wetlands of the state. Now, we are taking that work forward and turning our attention to important wetlands in the interior regions,” said Virendra Tiwari, additional principal chief conservator of forests (APCCF), mangrove cell.
Migratory birds, who fly to Maharashtra, mainly use the Central Asian Flyway (CAF), which is one of the major migratory routes for birds visiting the Indian Subcontinent from Asia. This study will help understand the population dynamics, movement and dispersal patterns, and threats to various migratory birds.
P Sathiyaselvam, a researcher with BNHS who is leading the exercise, said, “We have set up a field station in Nashik, from where our team members are carrying out monthly bird monitoring trips to each of the shortlisted sites. We have also done a training session for the forest department, to convey the importance of the CAF and to help them understand the state government’s commitments towards the Centre’s Central Asian Flyway National Action Plan. Of the 2,000 birds, 200 have already been tagged and the remaining will be tagged by September, once these birds return to these wetlands.”
“We are not just tagging migratory birds, but also some resident species. Common crows have been known to fly distances of more than 200 km in India, and house sparrows have been known to travel across international borders. So, we may see some interesting findings about how domestic birds are also using these interior wetlands,” Sathiyaselvam added.