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| Last Updated:: 11/02/2015

Head out for the great backyard bird count


It’s that time of year again when birders the world over head out — binoculars and notebooks in hand and citizen scientist in their heart — to their backyard. The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is back, from February 13 to 16, beckoning amateurs and experts alike to add to a global online database of birds recorded around their place of stay, study or work.


Among the Indian participants this year, there will be around 60 school and college campuses, which are often the last urban refuges for wildlife. “Many of our campuses are large and treed and have become important spots for urban ecology and birds,” P. Jeganathan, scientist with Nature Conservation Foundation, which is part of Bird Count India, a consortium of conservation organisations organising the GBBC in India.


For instance, IIT-Madras, which is now entangled in a legal battle over tree-felling to expand infrastructure, has already recorded 117 species of birds. So far, 14 campuses in Chennai will be participating in the count, including Women’s Christian College, Anna University and Sishya School. From other parts of the country, Indian Institute of Science (Bengaluru), Jawaharlal Nehru University (Delhi) and Pondicherry University campus have signed up.


The brief is fairly simple for campuses and individuals:  Go birding for at least 15 minutes, listing and counting all the species you see,” and submit your species list


The GBBC aims, with these annual snapshots of bird populations, “to increase our collective knowledge about bird distributions and to monitor how changes in habitat and weather may be impacting the species.


India has been participating in the GBBC since 2013 and last year bird enthusiasts recorded over 800 species, which was more species than any of the other 134 participating country.


While the most common were the House Crow, Common Myna and Rock Pigeon, some rare species such as the Baikal Teal and the Blue-naped Pitta were also spotted.