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:
- 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.
- Declining water sources
- Illegal killing – Hunting along migration routes threatens some migratory bird species.
- 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.
- Collision – Structures such as power lines, windmills, and offshore oil-rigs have also affect migratory birds.
- Poisoning by pesticides– Pesticides has an adverse effect on migratory birds as they can directly kill some birds.
- Increasing illumination – The artificial light at night adversely affects migration by confusing the birds.
- Increasing encroachment and human interferences, lack of food become a challenge, and birds can die of starvation.
Importance of migratory birds
- 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.
- The absence of these birds from an area can result in disasters like a Locust attack.
- 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.