Survey reveals avian paradise in Assam capital - Student members of WildRoots spot 155 bird species in Nabagraha hills, Kharguli hill and Luitnagar

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 10.03.14
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Guwahati, March 9: A trip in the city has turned out to be an enriching experience for some wildlife lovers who have managed to spot 155 bird species in three areas of Assam’s capital.

Somlee Gupta, a zoology student of Arya Vidyapeeth College, and other student members of a local organisation named WildRoots took part in a winter survey of birds in three areas —Nabagraha hills, Kharguli hills and Luitnagar here — and found many avian species.

Birds like the golden-fronted leaf bird, blue whistling thrush, greater racket-tailed drongo, black-crested bulbul, common hawk cuckoo, chestnut-headed bee-eater, lesser and greater necklaced laughing thrushes, streak-throated woodpecker, ashy woodswallow were some of the species spotted within the city along with common ones like the blue-throated barbet, lesser golden back woodpecker, black-hooded oriole, sunbirds, among others.

The students carried field guides, binoculars and basic point and shoot cameras during the survey.

“Avian survey was not conducted for a long time here and it is essential to find out the current status of birds within the urban space. The city has more birds than meets the eye. It is interesting to find so many birds near human habitat and observe how they are struggling for survival with the rapid habitat loss mainly on the hills,” Biswajit De, founder-president of WildRoots, said. Assam is estimated to have 900-1,000 of around 1,300 species of birds in India. The survey reports have been sent to eBird, a real-time, global online checklist programme. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the website provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Its goal is to maximise the utility and accessibility of the vast numbers of bird observations made each year by recreational and professional bird watchers.

Gupta feels WildRoots is taking learning beyond what is taught in a zoology course. “It is enriching learning beyond books,” she said. De said the organisation encourages and guides school and college students to venture out, observe, document and conduct surveys at the grassroots level and strive to preserve them for the future generation.

“Bird surveys have given me a new opportunity to find out the variety of bird species found within the city,” Sayanti Basak of B. Borooah College said.

“Students from various colleges and institutions are already conducting avian surveys within the urban and semi-urban habitats and regular survey reports are being submitted to various national and international organisations that are helping to create awareness about the number of species that exist within the urban space, preservation of their habitat and making the general community aware about the ecological importance of some avian species. Simple bird identification guides in the form of comic books, charts and posters are also distributed to the children to spread awareness,” De said.