Bird Sanctuaries in India
Among the most famous bird sanctuaries in India
are, the Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Bharatpur,
the Corbett National Park and the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary,
part of Project Tiger. These sanctuaries offer wide
variety of bird species. Here one can watch countless
birds in their natural habitat and take pleasure in
their charming habits.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park is one of India's pioneer
wildlife conservation centers. Considered to be the
best sites for bird watching in the world, the sanctuary
annually hosts thousands of visitors who come to view
the spectacular wildlife
Spread over an area of 30 square km of marshy swamp,
kadam forests, woodland and shallow lakes, the sanctuary
offers habitat to both nesting indigenous birds as well
as migratory water birds. An amazing number of more
than 330 species of birds have been spotted and identified
in the sanctuary. The Siberian Crane, the finest and
rarest of migratory birds, are the cynosure this sanctuary
and are regular visitors. Sometimes called 'The Lily
Bird' in India and the 'Snow Wreath' in Russia, the
Siberian Crane is believed to have existed in this world
for over one million years. However it is of great concern
that only 125 pairs of these pure white, crimson-billed
cranes estimated to survive worldwide. Profusion of
marine vegetation, frogs, fish, insects and mollusks,
as well fine setting for migratory birds go a long way
to make Keoladeo Ghana National Park an ideal place
for pelicans, storks, herons, egrets and kingfishers.
Breeding females stay in peaceful co-existence and it
is of no surprise that one tree can have nests of different
birds. The sanctuary is know to have been the best breeding
ground for more than a thousand species of birds. Migratory
birds start arriving in the month of October. They include
a variety of Geese, Ducks, Raptors, Geese, Warblers
Extending over an area of 800 sq km, the Sariska Wildlife
Sanctuary is located in the forest hills of the Aravalli
ranges in the state of Rajasthan. It provides habitat
to more than 200 species of birds including the Gray
Hornbill, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black/Red Headed Bunting,
Wryneck Woodpecker Babbler, White Breasted Kingfisher,
Little Brown Dove, Small Minivet, Golden Oriole, Great
Gray Shrike, Pale Harrier and Tailor Bird. The list
goes on. An example of typical dry deciduous forest,
the sanctuary remains lush and green during the monsoons
and dry during the rest of the seasons.
Other place is the Pong Dam reservoir is 65 km Pathankot
and 115 km from Dharamsala. Nestled in the sylvan surroundings
of the Kangra valley, the sprawling Pong Dam wetland
has emerged as a major habitat for migratory birds in
the country as also an attraction for bird watchers.
The most common bird species that have arrived and
often visit this lake every year include ruddy-shell
ducks (surkhab), bar-headed geese, mallards, coots,
pochards and pintails besides rare red-necked grebe
and gulls. These species come from as far as China,
Siberia, Central Asia, Pakistan and Ladakh. According
to a census, more than one lakh migratory birds visited
the lake last year.
Apart from being home to the tiger, Corbett National
Park is also noted for the bird watching. Considered
to be one of the best bird watching sites in the world,
the park is home to some 600 species of birds. This
number exceeds the total number of bird species found
in Europe and is about one fourth of the diversity found
in India. A case in point is that out of the 69 species
of raptors found in India, 49 can be seen in Corbett.
Spreading out on an area of 520 sq km, the Corbett National
Park is a hot destination for bird-watchers. Bird-watchers
from across the world make a beeline to this park during
winters when the bird diversity is at its zenith.
Problems being faced by bird sanctuaries in India
The main problem faced by Bharatpur Bird Sanctury is
Water problem . In the past few years farmers have
diverted two of three rivers which once flooded the
wetlands, leading to a drop of more than 50 percent
in the number of birds arriving from northern climates
each winter. The consecutive droughts have dried up
the water table in Bharatpur bird Sanctury. The state
of Rajasthan is facing draught problem for the last
2- 3 years. And this time rains were less. There is
a huge water problem. Every year, around 400 species
of birds used to fly in from various destinations of
like China, Europe, Siberia, Russia and Sri Lanka to
the sanctuary. Only 5,700 of the 15-17,000 migratory
water birds that regularly visit the park arrived this
year, according to wildlife officials. The problems
confronting Bharatpur are being mirrored across a range
of wetlands in India as urbanisation, growing pollution
and demands to feed India's billion-plus population
place massive demands on water supplies. The shrinking
water supply to Bharatpur meant that the migratory birds
where flying to other wetlands in India, where hunters
could stalk them as they lacked the same degree of protection.
Even the alternative homes for the birds are dwindling
Around 38 percent of the wetlands in the country have
disappeared over a 10-year-period between 1991 to 2001,
according to the results of a survey based on satellite
imagery conducted by the Space Application Centre in
Ahmedabad (news - web sites).
Municipal wastes are being dumped into them, wetlands
are being converted into farmland and entire housing
colonies are being built on them. The trend is dangerous
because it rewards short-term economic gain at the cost
of ignoring irreparable damage for recharging groundwater.
"The ecosystem service value of wetlands is 20 times
that of forests for the same unit area. Wetlands should
not be treated as wastelands. They are the most productive
units. We need a national policy for conserving them.
Problems faced by birds
Of the challenges faced by bird populations, the
majority are related to human activities. Some of the
most significant threats of the past century have been
overcome due to increased advocacy for wildlife and
the passage of numerous laws protecting birds and their
habitats. However, major threats persist, putting numerous
species at risk and requiring our attention and action.
The fact is that despite the areas set aside for wildlife,
some bird populations are still at risk from habitat
loss. Much of the landscape continues to undergo degradation
and conversion due to human development and disturbance..
In addition, growing numbers of birds are killed due
to collisions with human structures and equipment, including
power lines, communication towers, wind turbines, glass
windows, and automobiles.
Some species of birds are still threatened by commercial
exploitation; most notably, parrots targeted for the
exotic pet bird trade. Trade in wild-caught parrots,
coupled with habitat loss, has resulted in the parrot
family having more globally threatened species than
any other family of birds. The U.S. used to be the largest
consumer of parrots, legally importing 250,000 mostly
wild-caught parrots a year. This changed with the passage
of the U.S. Wild Bird Conservation Act, which controls
trade in parrots listed under the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species, and with Mexico’s ban on
exporting parrots. The Act also helped reduce smuggling,
but illegally-caught parrots still flow across the border.
The black market and the legal trade still occurring
in many countries are cause for great concern. Consumers
should take care to never buy a wild caught parrot:
for every one that reaches a store, four will have died
along the way. Birds are still victims of pesticide
exposure. An estimated 7 million bird deaths are attributed
to homeowner use of pesticides. These figures do not
include birds that perish after a period of illness,
that die after feeding on poisoned insects, rodents,
or other prey, or losses due to failed reproduction
(eggs left unhatched or nestlings left to starve).
Rapid Transit: the ins and outs of bird migration
Let's face it--when it comes to dealing with winter,
most birds seem an awful lot smarter than humans. Instead
of griping about the weather, they simply head for a
warmer climate. Let's look at a few facts on bird migration:
The arctic tern flies a phenomenal round trip that
can be as long as 20,000 miles per year, from the Arctic
to the Antarctic and back. Other sea birds also make
astounding journeys: the long-tailed jaeger flies 5,000
to 9,000 miles in each direction.
Arctic terns can migrate as far as 20,000 miles per
The sandhill and whooping cranes are both capable of
migrating as far as 2.500 miles per year, and the barn
swallow more than 6,000 miles. For the last word on
bird migration, see the Atlas of Bird Migration.
Why do about 520 of the 650 bird species that nest
in the United States migrate south to spend the winter
Because they get bored shivering in the dark. And
because it's bleak in the winter. And because there's
nothing to eat. And because their ancestors did it.
Why do some birds go north for the summer ?
Because there's more to eat. The 24-hour days near
the Arctic Circle produces a fantastic flowering of
life. This brief, but abundant, source of food attracts
many birds (and mammals such as the caribou) to the
Arctic for breeding purposes.
What influences migration patterns over the long
Changes in climate (particularly ice ages), and shifts
in the positions of islands and continents as a result
of tectonic drift.
How do they keep going ?
Some birds store a special, high-energy fat before
the trip. Soaring raptors, for example, may not eat
for several weeks as they migrate. Other species eat
along their migration routes.
How high can they fly ?
Higher than Mt. Everest. Bar-headed geese have been
recorded flying across the Himalayas at 29,000 feet.
Other species seen above 20,000 feet include the whooper
swan, the bar-tailed godwit, and the mallard duck.