Bird watching has more than meets the eye. Birders do a silent service to the environment and for the conservation of biodiversity by watching birds, their movements and habitats. But due to demanding academic obligations, the new generation of the bird watching community has been shrinking which has resulted in a failure to record important developments in the conservation of bio-diversity—this was the opinion aired by participants at the first ‘birders convention’ of Malnad and Coastal Birders held in Karkala on Sunday.
But there is hope as ornithologists are trying to put together a directory of birders and spread the spirit of bird watching among the youth through interactive sessions to be organised across the state and in Kerala.
It was a confluence three types of ornithologists—e-bird watchers, a community of bird watchers who exchange views on conservation on cyberspace, field workers, who document and photograph birds and experts who use ornithology to study parameters of bio-diversity.
“Ornithology was not bird watching alone. It was one of the methods available to science to study ecological imbalances, destruction of habitats of birds and other organisms, destruction of wetlands and many other indicators,” said senior ornithologist and zoologist NA Madhyastha.
Referring to a few instances where birds have indicated degeneration of soil, contamination of water and changes in the entomological profile of a place, Madhyastha said: “Many migratory and transitory birds are known for by-passing nestling, resting and breeding places due to pesticide and chemical contamination of soil due to salt water incursion for prawn culture. The classic examples are found in areas around Gangolli river in Kundapur taluk. Many birds that were found there for ages have been evading these areas.”
TV Ramachandran, senior scientist at Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, said: “We need to create a natural environment for birds and insects for nestling and breeding. At IISc, we have created a mini ecosystem of western ghats with water bodies and planted trees with thick and large canopies and allowed climbers and creepers to spread out their vines during the last 10 years. This has become a natural habitat for many birds and insects that have made their home on these trees and vines. We bring many young children from schools to study this mini ecosystem. The model we have created can be easily created anywhere.”
Even in the highly commercial areas like ports where one can see only heavy machines and trucks loaded with ore and coal, it is possible to create safe havens for birds. “When I started a greening movement at the 400 acres of New Mangalore Port area as a social corporate responsibility programme, many eyebrows went up. What business did trees and birds have in a place of imports, exports and profits? But the many areas inside the port have been converted into a green belt.
The port has received recognition as one of the ecologically certified ports among the eleven major ports in the country. As a result of the green belt, many types of birds and butterflies have started arriving,” said deputy chairman of New Mangalore Port TSN Murthy.