By Shravan Regret Iyer
Bengaluru: Only a few species of migratory birds from Eurasia have managed to break through barriers to spend winter in Bengaluru, a city that has lost 74 per cent of water bodies and 66 per cent of vegetation.
Each year many species such as the Bar-headed goose; Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler; Common Pochard; Yellow Wagtail; Grey Wagtail; Marsh Harrier; Montagu’s Harrier; Pallid Harrier; Common Kestrel and many wanders such as Green Shank; Wood Sandpiper; Green Sandpiper; Green Marsh Sandpiper come to the city from Eurasian region. But the large-scale destruction of their natural habitat has reduced the number of avian visitors.
“So far we have been able to sight only a few varieties of migratory birds. These birds have managed to reach the city from Eurasia, surprisingly, considering the fact that there is an increase in the number of high-rise buildings and other such hurdles on their migratory route, says Manjunath Prabhakar, a wildlife photographer.
“Since the last two years, we have found that the number of duck species visiting the city has gone down. This is due to the habitat destruction. The lakes have been polluted and is unfit for migratory species to survive. We find more pelicans, storks and other native varieties in Hebbal Lake as compared to other international migratory birds,” he added.
There are a few reasons ecologists and ornithologists cite for the decline in the avian visitors to the city. “Some species such as the sandpiper breed between the Artic circle and travel a distance of more than 12, 000 kilometres. Similarly, many other species migrate long distance and need staging grounds, a place where they can put on weight and continue flying. But, many of these grounds are destroyed, says M.B. Krishna, a bird expert.
Only a few staging grounds such as the Jim Corbett, Jamnagar, Delhi and Bharatpur in Rajasthan are protected.
Some species such as the sandpiper breed between the Artic circle and travel a distance of more than 12, 000 kilometres. Similarly, many other species migrate long distance and need staging grounds, a place where they can put on weight and continue flying. But, many of these grounds are destroyed.
A recent study conducted by Prof T. V Ramachandra of IISc shows that the city has lost 74 per cent of its water bodies and 66 per cent of vegetation. This is a major reason for the decline in the number of migratory birds in the city.
At present, migratory birds are seen in Hessarghatta, Bannerghatta, Nandi hills and on the outskirts of the city. Some of the important water bodies that attract them are Hebbal Lake, Jakkur Lake, Madiwala Lake, Puttenhalli Lake, Sankey Tank and Agara Lake. Many other lakes are encroached upon lack of protection. “Policies are often made to preserve and protect the habitat, but rules are broken and there is a negative influence on the migratory species of birds,” said the expert.
Indian Pittas’ call for help
Avian Dilemma: High rises, destruction of natural habitat are major deterrents. Photo by Parithimathi
Indian Pittas, locally known as Navarangas, come to the city from the Himalayas and need help continuing their journey towards Sri Lanka. These birds are falling prey to predators like Crows, Kites and domesticated cats. The BBMP forest cell managed to rescue one such bird that was found dehydrated in Hennur. “Each year we rescue many exhausted birds. The decline in the availability of water and roosting spots have in turn led to the increase in the number of cases. Many of these birds are also found dead due to collision with glass planes on buildings,” says Rajesh from the BBMP Forest Cell.
This story was originally published in Deccan Chronicle October 12, 2014, edition.