In this essay we will discuss about the wild birds found in different parts of the world.
The birds are a beautiful creature which attracts our mind near homes or near the pasture land. Their sweet chirping, laughing and tweeting make us happy and delightful. The birds – big or small always recreates our mind into a very fascinating way whether they are catching insects or taking food grains from the ground they always impresses us from their acts of moving or flying here and there on the earth.
Take the small pretty bird Sparrow (Passer Passer domestics), it has been vanished away from the villages of northern India. Three decades back, every house was full of noise of sparrow songs. The people were happy enough to see the bird chirping here and there in the houses.
Sometime they fly into groups to the fields of wheat or paddy, picking up their share of first crop in the agricultural fields and then again flying away to distant villages and then returning back to see their counterparts happy and safe. The domestic birds have suffered the worst in the last three decades because of global warming and pollution.
In the last three decades, several birds have been vanished away from the forests, pastures, valleys, wetlands and patch lands (small scattered forest in a rural area). Some bird species here disappeared or have become endangered in the last one century in the Indian Himalayas.
Particularly, the Central Himalayas and Shivalik hills, the population of wild birds has disappeared continuously. Changing climate, low rainfall and continuously growing global warming, increasing pollution, receding wetlands, reduction in the area of heathlands and open barren lands have caused the extinction of beautiful birds from the Himalayan States of India.
In the desert land of Rajasthan, the desert quail had disappeared in 1889. Since then, no species of this bird has been spotted in Rajasthan and adjoining areas. This was a big loss for the bird lovers and ornithologists all over the world. It was like a world of birds is gone. The naturologists and ornithologists also believe that this bird may still exist in some parts of Rajasthan deserts. Unfortunately, nobody has noticed its presence in the deserts, forests or agriculture lands by now.
Some beautiful wildfowls and waterfowls of Gujarat have been disappeared in the last one century. The continuous felling of forests, scratching the grass of barren lands and encroachment of mangroves has made it uneasy for some wild birds to survive in a changed environment or emigrate to somewhere else to other places.
The ornithologists in Gujarat explain into a dreary mood:
“During our student days we had spotted from kingfisher and hornbill quite easily but it becomes very difficult to find out the birds like turtle dove, hupoe, bulbul and skylark. We are quite disappointed now as these creatures were our great recreation in free time.”
The black prey bird in the Shivalik hills is no more visible as it was spotted commonly in the valleys three decades ago. Dhainchoo, Kaljeenth or black prey bird as it is known in the Shivalik hills is quite rare now. The bifurcated tailed bird is visible only after a big effort. The valleys popular for some pheasants and small birds are quite silent and without the songs of birds.
This is the dreariest situation for a bird lover who is not capable to locate the beautiful birds of his school days when he passed through scenic valleys and spotted several birds during his taking rest in the open valleys and pastures. “When we pass through these valleys it becomes quite difficult to locate the birds like turtle dove, Skylark. Karaoon, Saraoon, Kaljeenth, Bulbul, Huppoe, Tailorbird, red finch, black finch teetar, chakore, mouse birds, Neelkanth, Peet Pakshi, Himalayan wildfowls, waterfowls, and cheer Pheasant have become quite rare. Some of the birds of the warm valleys have been migrated to the far off forests and wildlands,” said Dr. K.S. Saroj, an expert on wild birds and their habitats.
“A large population of chanchur” (fuleira birds), one large species and other small species, have been vanished away. Once, there was a heavy noise in these traditional village forests but now there are only a few to be spotted. Where all the birds have gone, explains a village woman whose life is spent from village to forest and forest to village just to collect fuel wood and grass for the catties.
“It is quite sad and some time, when we do not see the birds in forests, I do not feel well at all. It is quite disappointing…As far as the question is to maintain the forests; they are in good state now. The plants and trees in the valleys are in the same form and now the growth of the trees is making good progress. The berries and wild fruits have grown again… Then why the birds are not returning in these forests and valleys are quite surprising,” she exclaimed.
Chakor is a bird which comes out of the bushes in moonlit nights and moves here and there in open pastures and valleys in search of food is also not visible. A very few population in the valleys is seen in the morning and evening but in a few numbers. Three decades back, there used to be 20, 15, 10 chakor in groups and used to fly from one place to another in search of food and habitation.
Three and half decade back I was in “Ghora Dhunghee” a wildland and pasture in Simtoli, Pauri Hills in Garhwal Himalayas and noticed there a large population of skylark making nests on the rock cavities raised from the ground. It was a nice experience to face them. The colour of skylark is just like common sparrow (Passes Passer Domestics) but the tail/and head is quite long. In those days, the whole pasture was a barren land and there was no growth of forests in the valleys and mountains.
Fortunately common sparrow and skylarks both of them like the open pastures without forests and trees. Yes, they like small bushes in the open pastures. At the base of a bush skylark make their nests. Common sparrows make their nests in the traditional houses and in the walls of villages. The food habits of both are the same.
In 1970-1976 the population of Skylark in Ghora Dhunghee pastures was thriving and the sparrow at villages was increasing in a large number. At that time, the mountain agriculture was also in good proportion and the farmers were happy. After 1976, there was no monsoon rain and the whole crop dried up. The farmers started to migrate to cities in search of good jobs and well-being. The villages remained deserted and isolated.
After 1976 the Ghora Dhunghee pastures developed a new growth of pine trees and the whole pasture was covered with pine forests, new native plants and local bushes. As soon as the pine forest came into existence, the skylark disappeared from the pasture as it had migrated to nearby pastures and open heathlands – a barren wideland with some thorny bushes.
The habitats of skylark are always in open pastures, as they can watch their enemies i.e., snakes, small cat, fox and prey birds from the wide open lands. These animals are always harmful to skylark and its nests.
The eagles sometime penetrate into its nests and eat eggs and baby birds. Seeing the danger of prey birds, the skylarks make their nests into a narrow land wall cavity which externally remains covered with green bushes so that no animal and bird can locate the nests. In this way, skylarks are an expert in making nests. A survey was conducted on the position of land and the location of nests under the green bushes. It was noticed that Skylark makes their nests after observing safety rules of their own.
It is a beautiful black bird of the Shivalik hills which makes its nests near the river banks in bushes, trees, tall trees and sometime in the branches of bamboo trees. There are some traditional trees and bushes where we have seen its nests. The trees are Khareek (celtis….), Khinna, Sullu (Surai), Pine tree branches, Hissaloo bushes, bamboo tree, and several other trees and bushes. In terai area we have seen its nests on the branches of mango tree after a long span of time.
The bird is seen in the branches of tall trees and in the valleys near river banks. It is an amazing bird which struggles very hard to fight against common crow, eagle and other birds of prey and chase, them far away to protect its nest from the invaders.
Dhainchoo has become rare and almost endangered in the Shivalik hills.
The reason is clear:
1. There is continuous global warming in the last four decades. The monsoon rain is not sufficient in the hills and remains almost dry.
2. The continuous deforestation of trees and bushes. The forests remain only one third now. The traditional fruit trees, bushes of berries and mangroves have been vanished away from the river banks, wetlands and small ponds.
3. Almost all the wetlands have receded or dried up in the last four decades. The new invading plants are growing up there which are harmful to native plants and herbs.
4. Increasing Pollution:
The Valleys, rivers and sweet water sources are being polluted by local population and tourists coming from far and away. It is a matter of great concern to all those who love these natural places and want to see them fresh and pollution free.
5. Loss of Original Habitats:
It is worth to mention here that most of the habitats, traditional bushes, rock cavities, and wildlands have been developed into houses, roads and agricultural lands. This has badly disturbed the breeding areas of wild animals and birds. The habitat loss is considered the worst and most devastating for the population of wild birds.
6. Moisture and Wetness of Land is Gone:
In the last 40 years, there was no substantive rainfall in the Shivalik hills as a result, the trees, bushes and herbs did not grow at the proper speed. The whole area was turned into a dry zone with a very few grass cover on it.
7. Small rivers, brooklets, rivulets were completely dried up and the aquatic plants and mangroves vanished away from the river banks. The native plants and grasses are being replaced by an invading species of Kala Bansha (black bush) and Lantana Bush (Lantern flower); a thorny bush has come into existence. The whole river belt is badly attacked by these plants and the native vegetation is disappearing away.
8. The river birds and animals like Pankauwa, Bagula, and Kingfisher, white paradise, river crow and sand birds have either been migrated to somewhere else or vanished away completely.
9. Some species of waterfowls, wildfowls and mountain pheasants have been disappeared in the last one century.
The ancient bird Dodo had disappeared from the earth some thousands year ago.
It is learnt that since 1600,115 species of birds have gone extinct, mostly because of human interference in the forests or hunting them for food. There was a largest bird on earth Dromornis stirtoni from Australia has been disappeared long ago. The bird lived between one million and 15 million years ago. Its wingspan was 3 meters and weight 500 kg.
The tallest bird was from New Zealand as Dinornus maximus, a giant moa from New Zealand wetlands. It was 3.7 meters. Another extinct bird was South America’s the Giant Teraton (Argentavis magnificens) had a wingspan of 6 meters and as large as 7.5 meters.
At present the largest living bird is Ostrich (Struthio Camelus). This ever popular bird stands a magnificent 2.74 meters high and can weigh 160 kg. The heaviest flying bird is Kori Bustard of Africa (Ardeotis Kori) whose weight is 19 kg. The Eurasian Bustard (Otis tarda) and Mute swan have been recorded at 18 kg.
The wing span is also considered an important object seeing the flying importance of the bird – Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) with wing span of 3 meters and Maribou Stork (Leptoptilus crumeniferous) with a wing span of 2.87 meters.
The Birds of Sea:
The Royal Albatross (Diomedea epomophora) has a wingspan of 3.5 meters. However, the Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) has a wing span of 3.63 meters.
There is a vast majority of bird lovers all over the world. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has more than 1.5 million members. The number is increasing every year. The National Audubon Society of America (USA) has 55,000 members worldwide. The Wild Bird Society of Japan has a great numbers of bird lovers in Japan.
There are 9703 species of birds in the world divided into 23 orders, 142 families and 2057 genera. Birds can be found in every part of the world. From desert to snow land, the birds are a great source of human recreation.
The Sudanese Red Cliff Swallow (Hirundo perdita) was last seen in 1984 and the orange-Necked Partridge (Arborophila davidi) was last seen in 1927.
The Mauritius Kestrel (Falco puntatus) once was left 4 last seen in nature but the number now has reached to 300. In the same way the Californian Condor (Gymnogyps California nus) was left 9 to 27 individuals in nature. Now, this has reached to 150. The captive breeding for such birds and animals is quite fruitful. Even a large number of Ostrich birds are being bred in Captivity and are left in the forests of Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Northern and Southern American forests and deserts.
In many countries, the tigers, lions, eagles, vultures and birds of paradise are being captive bred just to increase their population in the wild. After the session of their captive breeding is over they are taught natural instincts of hunting and left in the wild forever.
The corncrakes are the most threatened bird globally. In UK, it became extinct one century ago. It was mainly because of intensive farming. Just to make it alive and rejuvenate in nature. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Zoological Society of London and English Nature are combined launching project to re-establish corncrake population in England.
Nearly 100 corncrakes had been released in 2005 by The RSPB, Nonewashes resevere in Cambindgeshire eastern England, and the scheme received a boost when a family of corncrake chicks was seen at the reserve.
Unfortunately, there is continuous hunting of common Quail (Coturnix coturnix) and turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur) in the name of organized hunting tourism in Serbia and Montenegro.
Under the Serbian law, these species can be hunted from August to 30 September. Most of the species are declining in most of Europe and are being offered as game birds to visiting foreign hunters, particularly from Italy. There is widespread use of illegal methods of killing, such as the use of pump action guns which allow a single hunter to kill 300 quails in a morning. These are wide spread methods in the northern Vojvodina province and there in concern that protected species such as corncrakes are also falling victim to hunters.
The Bird Protection and Study Society of Vojvodina and League of Ornithologists Action on Serbia and Montenegro have proposed a permanent ban on hunting two target species as well as their removal from the country’s game birds list and inclusion on the list of Natural Rarities.
It was more interesting to learn that 20 red kites were released near the Gateshead of northern England as part of the Northern Kites initiative in 2005. According to the fourth and final phase of the English Red Kite Reintroduction Programme, the birds have not been recorded from Northern England in the last 150 years. This is thought to be the first attempt to introduce the red kite into a semi-urban environment.
The birds have their own freedom to sing in the pastures, forests and valleys. But their songs are affected by habitat fragmentation. This has been proved by analysis of the song of the nearly threatened Dupont’s lark (Cherophilus dupontii). It has revealed that neighbouring larks in fragment at habitats mimic each other’s songs more closely than in non-fragmented habitats.
Song mimicry is a common occurrence among birds appears to act as a threat signal between males. It is thought that male larks in fragmented habitats only perceive close neighbours with which they engage in counter singing as rivals.
The Bald Ibis is found in Northern Africa, Turky, Jordan and neighbouring countries. This wonder bird is on the verge of extinction because of global warming, climate change and increasing pollution near its habitats. The wetland and marshes where it is found are disappearing away gradually.
The bird is critically endangered. Bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) was the subject of an exhibition of photograph in the old town of Damascas in February 2006. It was seen as an attempt to create mass awareness to promote conservation of this species. It is believed that there are only 20-50 birds surviving in this peculiar environment of the world.
The Indian vultures are on the verge of extinction. The main reason of the declining of Indian vulture species is the use of various insecticides by the farmers for their crops. Some insecticides are responsible for the deaths of vulture community.
The experiments on captive vultures have shown that the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug Meloxicam has no side effects on the birds unlike the NSAID Diclofenac. The Meloxicam was tested in a number of vulture species and found that it has no side effects at all.
The discovery of 70 white shouldered Ibis (Pseudibis davisoni) at Cambodias Western Siem Pang IBA in November 2005 is an exciting experience. Now the population of this critically endangered bird has reached to 250. The previous highest count was 33 birds in November 2004.
The Ibis decline has been linked to habitat loss, mainly through logging and drainage of wetlands for agriculture. Western Siem Pang IBA is one of the most important sites for birds in Cambodia.
It is also a matter of fact that the ocean wanderers are killing millions of birds every year. According to a satellite tracking data 16 species of albatrosses and three species of petrel are all time threatened by commercial and private long time fishing.
In the waters of New Zealand, Southeast Australia, the South West Indian ocean, South Atlantic and North Pacific, more than 300,000 seabirds including 100,000 albatrosses die is by catch from long time fleets every year.
In the year of 2006, Bird of Paradise (Berlepsch six wired bird) was found in the Foya mountain forests of Western New Guinea.
The Raptors of Estonia:
A study in Estonia has found that forest dwelling raptors prefer to nest in natural forests as opposed to managed forests.
It was seen that the raptors mostly made their nests on the tall trees of ancient forests. In Lebanon, two reserve areas have been established in the area of high biodiversity, Ebel es Saqui, a potential bird area and raptor flying bottleneck and the Kfarzabad Marshlands.
The research on rainforests of South West Sri Lanka has revealed that endemic forest dwelling birds and small mammals find it harder to adjust to modified landscapes other than taxa.
In several studies, it has been noticed that the endemic animal species are none detrimental rather than non-endemic species because most of the natural landscapes and eco system is modified according to the needs and nature of the endemic species.
The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, a partnership of organization working to protect shorebirds and their habitats the rough Network across the Americas. The Panama Bay IBA has joined the network to protect its shorebirds and their habitats.
Every year the Upper Panama is visited by 2 million shore birds travelling between North and South America via the Isthmus of Panama. Counts of shorebirds along Panama coast at times exceed 10,000 per km. The site is used by more than 30 percent of the world female population of Western Sand piper (Calidris mauri) and is globally important for at least six Shorebird species.
The Saker falkons area highly prized birds are traded for falconry in former Russian block countries and Arabia. A large number of such birds are smuggled from the wild of these countries on high prices. These are the prey birds and are used in hunting of wild fowls, rabbits and other birds. In the Arabia, the birds are used for hunting wild birds and hares for food from the very ancient time.
From time to time, Sri Lankan birds have been described with great importance. The last new bird was added was in 1868. A new bird, Serendipscopsow (otusthilo hoffmanni was recently described from the island. About this owl was first heard in 1995 but it was until February 2001 that the first picture was obtained.
The species was captured and released in August 2001 and a voucher specimen was obtained in November 2002. In a survey in 2004, it was noticed that there are 45 individuals in the lowland rainforests of Kitugala; Kannelia and Eratna Gilimale in the South West of Island.
In the Island of Calayan in the northern most part of Philippines, a new species of bird has been discovered. In May 2004, a new species of “flightless rail” named Calayan Rail (Galliralius Calayanensis). Its closest relatives are Okinawa rail (Gallirallus okinawae) in the Ryukyu Archipelago off Japan, 100 km, of North.
The new species appears to be almost flightless and restricted to forests on coralline limestone areas, which probably make up more than 50% of the islands surface.
A liquid natural gas company Chevron—Texaco has received authorisation from Mexican Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources to build, natural gas importation plant off the coast of Tijuana in the lee of the Los Coronados Islands.
The plant will threaten at least 10 sea bird species that nest on islands. The main concern is Xantus murrelet, an endemic species that is found only on far Islands.
There is a vast world of birds existing in Arctic, Antarctic, deserts, islands, lakes and in the river banks. In colour, varieties, shape and size these are amazing and are a great source of recreation.
The climatic influence, ecological variations, adaptable ecosystem and the types of forests also make a sense in a variety of bio-diversity. The ecological variations in Tibetan Plateaus, the Western Himalaya, Central Himalaya and Eastern Himalayas have a great difference in the growth and evolution of wildlife. These geographical parts have a different rain fall, snowfall and their typical ecosystems. In true geographical sense, climate varies from place to place.
For example, Sahara Desert, Indian Thar Desert, Govi Desert, Namib Desert, Atacama and Patagonia Deserts have different geographical formation as well as ecological variations.
The Western Palearctic Zoo-geographical region includes whole of Europe, North Africa Southwards to the central Sahara including the Hoggar and Tibesti, the Middle East wards to the border of Iran (but excluding most of the Arabian Peninsula the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, the Islands of Banc d’ Arguin off Mauritania and the Cape Verde Islands. This is the sky way of the sea birds and shore birds that migrate during winter.
Almost, there are some 900 species recorded from Western Palaearctic region. The Western Palaerctic is more natural faunal unit than Europe alone. Since, it is the Sahara and Arabian deserts, not the Mediterranean, that are the true Southern boundaries of Europe.
To the east the Ural’s and the Caspian form a geographically convenient boundary (but one largely recognised by birds) between the western and eastern Sub-divisions of the vast Palaerctic region that extends to the east across the whole of Asia north of the Himalayas and the mountains of Central China.
The Western Palaearctic Region is important one for the migration of birds during snowfall or winter. This is the traditional Sky fly way of migrating birds.
1. Bank d’ Arguin
7. Czech Republic
13. Bosnia Herzegovina
14. Serbia Montenegro
17. Balearic Islands
The coastal nations of Mediterranean are a haven for seabirds and shore birds and the coastal wetlands are the largest breeding centres of migrating birds from Europe and Central Asia.
Some of the birds of the World are shown here with their families and some of them are on the verge of extinction. Some of the birds have been left in the wild after captive breeding. Such birds are increasing their population in the wetlands and the moistures forests.
The Protection of Wild Birds:
The Hinduism and Buddhism are called the religion of protection and conservation in the world. The enlightened and benevolent attitudes towards wildlife conservation helped in the conservation of wildlife in Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka. The birds are facing many threats all over the world.
1. The Main Threats
2. Deforestation Activities
3. Receding Wetlands
6. Agricultural Habitats
7. Other Threats
Main Conservation organizations are supporting the protection of birds:
1. Wild Bird Society of India
2. Wild Bird Society of Japan
3. Birdlife International, UK
4. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, UK
5. Wetlands International—Asia Pacific
6. World Pheasant Association South Asia
7. Worldwide Fund for Nature
8. World Wide Fund for Nepal
9. World Wide Fund for Bhutan
10. Oriental Bird Club, UK
11. Mountain Research Foundation, Dehradun, India
12. Fauna & Flora International, UK
13. Wild Fowl and Wild Land Trust, UK
14. Wild Bird Trust, UK
15. National Society for Clean Air and Environment Protection, UK
16. National Association for Outdoor Education, UK
17. National Association for Environmental Education, UK
18. Marine Conservation Society, UK
19. Living Earth, UK
20. International Centre for Conservation Education, UK
21. Institute for Earth Education, UK
22. Friends of Earth, UK
23. Green Peace, UK
24. Environmental Council UK
25. Council for Environmental Education, UK
26. The Asiatic Society, Bombay
27. Institute of Wildlife Study
28. Peoples Initiative for Environment, Himachal, India
29. Hornbill Research Foundation, Thailand
30. Scottish Natural Heritage, UK
31. Bird Protection & Study Society of Vojvodina
32. League for Ornithological Action, Serbia & Montenegro
33. The Hans Foundation, India – Environment, education and lifestyle, health, hygiene and peoples action.
34. The Hans Foundation – Environmental Awareness, Conservation, Reforestation, Wetlands conservation, wildlife and Eco-tourism studies
35. Vulture conservation and Breeding Centre, Pinjore, Haryana
36. Ostrich Research Centre, Australia
37. Wildlife Captive Breeding Centre, Kruger National Park, South Africa
38. International Society for Mountains Study and Research, Dehradun, India
39. Orangutan Research Centre, Borneo
40. Milky Stock Research Centre, Philippines
41. Tsomoriri Conservation Trust, Leh, Ladakh, India.