Delhi’s first bird census to start from February-end; to be held every 3 months | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Delhi’s first bird census to start from February-end; to be held every 3 months

Feb 19, 2024 05:46 AM IST

A census is planned to be carried out once every three months, which will provide the government adequate data on both resident and migratory birds

Delhi’s forest and wildlife department is planning to create a “bird atlas” for the Capital, which will have details of the city’s bird diversity in terms of species and their distribution across the city. The department is planning to create the atlas by the end of the year by conducting a series of bird census, beginning this month-end, officials aware of the matter said on Sunday.

A bird atlas helps the states to look at the change in bird diversity and density over the years. (HT Archive)
A bird atlas helps the states to look at the change in bird diversity and density over the years. (HT Archive)

A bird atlas helps the states to look at the change in bird diversity and density over the years. It also uses maps to help identify important bird habitats.

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A census is planned to be carried out once every three months, which will provide the government adequate data on both resident and migratory birds across different seasons, they added.

Forest officials said this will be the first time the department will carry out bird census in the city, which will eventually provide the data to create Delhi’s first bird atlas.

Suneesh Buxy, Delhi’s chief wildlife warden, said to gather data and conduct census across the city, the department will seek assistance from Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA’s) Biodiversity Parks Programme and Delhi University students. A date to start the first such census is still being finalised. Birders have also been approached by the department to cover different wetlands and bird-rich areas of the Capital, he added.

“The plan is to carry out a bird census every three months, which will be able to look at the changes in bird density over different seasons. We will start the first census of this year in February-end, which will represent the winter season. The goal is to track migratory birds too and the different species that are reaching the Capital each year, which will lead to us creating a detailed bird atlas,” Buxy told HT, stating this will be an annual publication released by the department.

“We looked at states like Kerala and Goa, which have their own bird atlas. We also spoke to birders, who suggested the same. Delhi needs to have its own atlas,” he said.

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So far, the department has shortlisted over 10 locations at the moment for the February census, with more to be added, depending on the number of volunteers, it said.

These include Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, Najafgarh Jheel, the entire stretch of the Yamuna floodplains from Palla till Okhla, Delhi Zoo, Bhalswa Lake and Sanjay Lake.

“By covering the floodplains, we will also be able to cover locations such as Baansera, Asita, Kalindi Aviral, Garhi Mandu and Yamuna Biodiversity Park, which are all on the floodplains,” Buxy added.

Though bird counts are held in Delhi-NCR annually, these are normally held by birders at an informal level, with its data uploaded on the website, eBird. Delhi has never had a formal bird atlas prepared.

On February 4, birders had taken part in the Big Bird Count 2024, which was held over 30 different locations spread out across Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR), finding 237 species in total.

Faiyaz Khudsar, scientist-in-charge of DDA’s biodiversity parks programme, who will be assisting the department with the first census this month, said this was a welcome move and will provide Delhi with its own data of Delhi’s rich bird diversity.

“A bird atlas will require long-term planning. First, the number of locations being covered will have to be fixed, which includes forests, water bodies and the Yamuna. Then, we will have to fix permanent points at each of these spots, which will have to be covered every time a census is conducted. Over different season, data has to be gathered from all these points in order to gauge and understand the change in bird diversity and numbers over the years,” said Khudsar.

Nikhil Devasar, a birder and one of the organisers of the Big Bird Count in NCR, said a bird atlas would be extremely helpful for Delhi, however, it will require extensive data collection, beyond the census planned every three months. “We have told the forest department ideally, we will need to collect data every other week and bird data needs to be collated for at least 1.5 years, before the first bird atlas can come out. We have also suggested them to make the eBird portal as the baseline, as that has extensive data collated by birders over the last several years,” he said.

Delhi is supposed to have a rich bird biodiversity, a comprehensive assessment of which has been presented in the book, “Birds of Delhi area”, by birder Sudhir Vyas. He has listed 470 different species that have been sighted in the Capital in the past.

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