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State of India Birds 2023

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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

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The “State of India’s Birds, 2023″ report reveals a widespread decline in most bird species across the country, with some currently declining and others projected to decline in the future.

Key Findings

  • Raptors, migratory shorebirds, and ducks have experienced the most significant declines.
  • However, several species like the Indian Peafowl, Rock Pigeon, Asian Koel, and House Crow are thriving and increasing in both abundance and distribution.
  • The assessments, based on data from around 30,000 birdwatchers, indicate that 60% of the 338 species with identifiable long-term trends have declined, while 36 species have increased.
  • Specialist bird species, which inhabit specific habitats like wetlands and rainforests, are facing rapid declines, while generalist species capable of adapting to various habitats are faring better.
  • Long-distance migratory birds, such as those from Eurasia and the Arctic, have suffered significant declines, while resident species remain more stable.
  • Birds with diets focused on vertebrates and carrion have seen notable declines, potentially due to harmful pollutants present in these food resources.
  • The report emphasizes the decline of species endemic to the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspots.

What are the Key Highlights of the Report?

  • Status:
    • For the 338 species with identified long-term trends, 60% have experienced declines, 29% are stable, and 11% have shown increases.
    • Among the 359 species with determined current annual trends, 39% are declining, 18% are rapidly declining, 53% are stable, and 8% are increasing.
  • Positive Trends: Increasing Bird Species:
    • Despite the general decline, there are some positive trends among certain bird species.
      • The Indian Peafowl, for instance, the national bird of India, is showing a remarkable increase in both abundance and distribution.
        • This species has expanded its range into new habitats, including high-altitude Himalayan regions and rainforests in the Western Ghats.
      • The Asian Koel, House Crow, Rock Pigeon, and Alexandrine Parakeet are also highlighted as species that have demonstrated a notable increase in abundance since the year 2000.
  • Specialist Birds:
    • Bird species that are “specialists’’ – restricted to narrow habitats like wetlands, rainforests, and grasslands, as opposed to species that can inhabit a wide range of habitats such as plantations and agricultural fields – are rapidly declining.
    • The “generalist’’ birds that can live in multiple habitat types are doing well as a group.
  • “Specialists, however, are more threatened than generalists.
  • Grassland specialists have declined by more than 50%.
  • Birds that are woodland specialists (forests or plantations) have also declined more than generalists, indicating a need to conserve natural forest habitats so that they provide habitat to specialists.
  • Migrant and Resident Birds:
    • Migratory Birds, especially long-distance migrants from Eurasia and the Arctic, have experienced significant declines by more than 50% – followed by short-distance migrants.
    • Shorebirds that breed in the Arctic have been particularly affected, declining by close to 80%.
    • By contrast, resident species as a group have remained much more stable..
  • Diet and Decline Patterns:
    • Dietary requirements of birds have also shown up in abundance trends. Birds that feed on vertebrates and carrion have declined the most.
      • Vultures were nearly driven to extinction by consuming carcasses contaminated with diclofenac.
    • White-rumped Vultures, Indian Vultures, and Red-headed Vultures have suffered the maximum long-term declines (98%, 95%, and 91%, respectively).
  • Endemic and Waterbird Declines:
    • Endemic species, unique to the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot, have experienced rapid declines.
      • Of India’s 232 endemic species, many are inhabitants of rainforests, and their decline raises concerns about habitat preservation.
    • Ducks, both resident and migratory, are declining, with certain species like the Baer’s Pochard, Common Pochard, and Andaman Teal being particularly vulnerable.
    • Riverine sandbar-nesting birds are also declining due to multiple pressures on rivers.
  • Major Threats:
    • The report highlighted several major threats – including Forest Degradation, urbanization, and energy infrastructure – that bird species face across the country.
    • Environmental pollutants including veterinary drugs such as nimesulide still threaten vulture populations in India.
    • Impacts of Climate Change (such as on migratory species), avian disease, and illegal hunting and trade are also among the major threats.
  • Other Species:
    • Sarus Crane has rapidly declined over the long term and continues to do so.
    • Of the 11 species of woodpeckers for which clear long-term trends could be obtained, seven appear stable, two are declining, and two are in rapid decline.
      • The Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, inhabiting widespread thorn and scrub forests, has declined by more than 70% in the past three decades.
    • While half of all bustards worldwide are threatened, the three species that breed in India – the Great Indian Bustard, the Lesser Florican, and the Bengal Florican – have been found to be most vulnerable.


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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

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