Birds banded in India spotted in China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan
Study reveals fascinating information about their ability to fly thousands of miles
A northern shoveler, a medium-sized bird, which flew to Lake Chilika from Odisha to winter in February 2018 was spotted in Yazyavan in Uzbekistan in April 2021. Three years after a terek sandpiper was tagged in the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, it was spotted at Jandola in Khyber in Pakistan in May.
Likewise, a curlew sandpiper spotted and tagged in March 2019 in Navi Mumbai was sighted in the Tangu salt marshes in Tainjin, China, in May.
The mysterious ability to fly thousands of miles across international borders was recently documented by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), one of the oldest wildlife research organizations in India.
The BNHS, a veteran of the study of banding, started the study in 1927 and since 1959 has conducted systematic and large-scale studies.
Need for international collaboration
The recent study reveals fascinating information about migratory birds. According to the BNHS, the Indian Skimmer is a striking black and white bird with a bright orange beak. “The known breeding population is in India, which makes India’s conservation efforts crucial for the survival of this species. The labeling of the Indian Skimmer revealed the movement between India and Bangladesh, highlighting the need for international collaboration, ”he said.
Based on these recoveries, breeding areas, migration routes and stopover sites of more than 40 species have been well documented. The information gained from these intensive studies has been essential in delineating the boundaries of the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) and the overlapping East Asian, Australasian (EAAF) and Eastern Flyways (EAAF) flyways. ‘Africa-Eurasia with CAF, BNHS said in a statement.
“With an increased interest in birds among the general public, coupled with some of the very popular citizen science programs and judicious use of social media, we expect to get more and more records of these tagged birds,” said Dr Bivash Pandav, Director of BNHS.
Dr Pandav said BNHS looked forward to the active participation of its members to report more of these marked birds from different parts of India.
BNHS scientist Mrugank Prabhu and his team have been studying birds and their routes through rings and colorful flags in Mumbai since 2018 and have so far tagged 10,000 birds of 36 species.
The research organization says bird banding is a conventional study involving the banding of a bird with a light metal ring, with a unique alphanumeric code.
International flyway protocols
The BNHS also uses colored flags, colored bands and collars on some species. These color combinations comply with international flyway protocols. Most of the tagged individuals are identified through high resolution photographs.
Chilika is one of the oldest ring study sites where it has been taking place for 30 years. India is the current chair of the Convention on Migratory Species.
Each year, around 50 billion birds undertake such migrations across the world. It is fascinating to know the route, timing and ecology of bird migration. The banding-recapture or re-sighting method of birds is the reliable way to study them, according to the BNHS.