Conservation of migratory birds

Synopsis- Migratory birds are important for ecological balance. However, they are facing several threats, leading to their extinction.

What are migratory birds?

  • Bird migration is their regular seasonal movement. Birds fly hundreds and thousands of KMs to find the best habitats for feeding, breeding, and raising their young ones.
  • Migratory birds come to India from about 29 countries between September and October during the winter migration season. For example, Pallikaranai in Chennai attracts many flamingoes, ducks, and waders.
  • However, India witnessed a decrease in the number of migratory birds.

Threats to Migratory Birds in India

Migratory birds are under threat from the following factors:

  1. Loss of biodiversity- Overexploitation, unsustainable use of natural resources, population explosion along with increased weather variabilities, and climate change has resulted in the loss of biodiversity.
  2. Declining water sources
  3. Illegal killing – Hunting along migration routes threatens some migratory bird species.
  4. Stopover habitat loss – Migratory birds use stopover sites to feed, rest and reenergize during their migration period. But many stopover sites are threatened due to increased urbanization and overexploitation.
  5. Collision – Structures such as power lines, windmills, and offshore oil-rigs have also affect migratory birds.
  6. Poisoning by pesticides– Pesticides has an adverse effect on migratory birds as they can directly kill some birds.
  7. Increasing illumination – The artificial light at night adversely affects migration by confusing the birds.
  8. Increasing encroachment and human interferences, lack of food become a challenge, and birds can die of starvation.

Importance of migratory birds

  1. Migratory birds play a critical role in the ecosystem by maintaining balance. They are helpful in pollinating plants, dispersing seeds, act as pest control agents, and consuming insects and small mammals.
  2. The absence of these birds from an area can result in disasters like a Locust attack.
  3. Duck helps in the transportation of fish eggs in their guts to other water bodies. Bird droppings are a rich source of Nitrogen and Organic fertilizers.

What are the measures required to address the issues?

  • Long-term monitoring programs to assess the migration trends in birds, diseases monitoring and enumeration
  • Educating people about bird migrations and their impacts. Seeking local support for nesting and conservation of migratory birds
  • Fishing operation to be minimized/abandoned/banned during the migration season.
  • Need to create Bird-friendly landscaping and maintain natural habitat to help birds roost and build their nests.
  • Banning single-use plastics and avoiding dumping of single-use plastics in water bodies.
  • Strict law enforcement is required to support the conservation of migratory birds.
  • Modern technologies like drones can be used to track poachers in areas where birds converge
  • Minimizing night illumination along the migration paths.
  • Promote awareness regarding the conservation and protection of migratory birds and their natural habitats.
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