The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) is hoping to engage people across India to observe and document the birds in their localities as part of Bird Count India, which is a consortium that studies bird distribution. This will be part of the Great Backyard Bird Count, a four-day global event taking place from February 13 to 16.
The aim of the event, which is open to everybody, is to collate information about birds across the world by engaging as many people as possible.
In the process, the initiative hopes to help people reconnect with nature and make them aware of the need for conversation. The documentation exercise is also meant to help plan the long-term conservation of the birds and to monitor their population trends.
“To participate, all you need to do is to observe the birds in your locality over a stretch of at least 15 minutes,” says Atul Sathe, Manager-Communications, BNHS-India. “Note down the name of the bird species you see and their number. Then upload the information on the global bird listing platform, www.ebird.org,” he says.
During these four days, you can upload your observations about the birds you have seen in the same or different locations multiple times. The idea is to get as much information as possible and actively engage people, says Sathe.
Over one lakh people across the word are expected to similarly document the bird presence in their localities. According to BNHS-India, last year, over 1,000 bird watchers recorded over 800 species in India – more than in any other country.
The organisation says that while common species such as the house crow, common myna and blue rock pigeon were the most frequently reported, the presence of rare species such as the Baikal teal and blue-naped pitta were also recorded.
For novices, identifying the rare birds they might spot can be a challenge. “You could come across an unfamiliar bird species in the area you’ve chosen to observe,” says Sathe. “Therefore, it is best to carry a bird field guide book to help you in your observations.” Binoculars are also helpful in identifying the birds better.
According to BNHS-India, bird watchers are also planning local events around the Great Backyard Bird Count. Over 30 educational institutes across India have signed up for Campus Bird Count, while some groups have planned local bird walks. India has been participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count since 2013. Last year, the youngest participant was a 13-year-old boy.
For more information on Great Backyard Bird Count, Campus Bird Count and other associated events, log on to www.birdcount.in