Birdwatchers pooling information for research and conservation
Birdwatching as a hobby has been growing rapidly in our country and there are more birdwatchers today than ever before. Can the information collected on birdwatching trips be harnessed for better documentation and monitoring of India's birds? The Bird Count India partnership is an attempt to do so.
The Bird Count India partnership seeks to increase our collective knowledge of bird distribution and populations. Through the collation of information on bird occurrence, we attempt to arrive at a better understanding of seasonality as well as changes over years and decades. To facilitate this, we bring appropriate tools to the birding community, conduct bird events and activities, and provide support to birding groups to conduct their own events. More information is here.
A large number of groups and organizations make up the partnership. These include 'real', on-ground organizations, as well as virtual groups (eg Facebook discussion groups). Partners support the goals of Bird Count India by encouraging their members/subscribers to take part in events and projects. Several partners run their own events and projects, with support from Bird Count India. Any group is welcome to join the partnership. More details are here.
Bird listing and eBird
A common activity of birdwatchers is to visit a location and make a list of all species seen. This simple activity, when pooled across many birdwatchers and visits, and collated in the same place, can yield a large amount of valuable information about the distribution and abundance of birds. The Bird Count India partnership works with the global platform eBird to facilitate the collection & collation of birding lists, and to summarise and display the results in meaningful ways. The result has been a sharp increase in the amount of information from India in the eBird database. Since 2014, around 20 thousand birdwatchers have uploaded more than 15 million observations, covering all states and union territories from more than 600 districts, with over 150,000 new observations added every month. This inflow of data has allowed the creation of fairly detailed, interactive maps of bird distributions, better understanding of the seasonality of migration, and much more.
The first comprehensive assessment of the distribution range, trends in abundance, and conservation status of most of the bird species that regularly occur in India was published as a report State of India's birds in February, 2020.
The primary data used in this report is the 10+ million observations uploaded by Indian birdwatchers to eBird. Data on eBird are freely available for research, education and conservation.
Events & Projects
The Bird Count India partnership runs, or helps facilitate a number of bird-related events across the country. These include:
The global Great Backyard Bird Count
The India-wide Endemic Bird Day
The Big Bird Day across India
The Onam Bird Count in Kerala
The Pongal Bird Count in Tamil Nadu
The Bihu Bird Count in Assam
.. and more.
These events have helped spread the idea of 'birding to make a difference' and have contributed to the emergence of structured and systematic projects, including: