Monday, August 02, 2010

Growing Bengaluru has no room for winged beauties

Growing Bengaluru has no room for winged beauties

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Increased pollution and loss of trees and lakes in the city are forcing birds to nest on the outskirts. As birds are known as `indicator species' their disappearance reveals drastic changes in Bengaluru's weather. Experts warn that if concerted efforts are not made to bring the winged guests back, Bengaluru may have to say goodbye to them permanently, reports Amit S. Upadhye.

The familiar chirp of birds, which is now barely audible in the city, may soon die down completely. Rapid growth and increasing pollution has led to a loss of habitat especially nectar yielding and fruit bearing trees, forcing these winged beauties to take refuge on the outskirts of the city.
Since birds are known as `indicator species' their disappearance shows that the microclimate of the city is dying fast.
Most birds of prey such as the falcons, shikras and Egyptian vultures are not being spotted in the city areas anymore. One has to travel either to Hesarghatta, Ramanagara or Bannerghatta to spot them. The number of sparrows and crows have also fallen at alarming rates.

"Trees such as Ficus, which act as home for hundreds of birds, have become fewer in number. Several fruit bearing trees were cut down for infrastructure projects and alternation in the landscape. Dying water bodies and dry land has made it difficult to spot birds in Bengaluru," points out Harish R. Bhat, a biodiversity expert.

Over the last few years, efforts were made at many levels to bring the birds back to Bengaluru, but in vain. BBMP, in 2006, decided to plant fruit bearing trees to attract the winged guests, but the initiative could not be taken up. Later, BBMP with participation from local NGOs, placed wooden boxes for birds to come and nest. But bird experts are not sure if the artificial homes will actually attract them.

Bird experts suggest that the forest department must encourage bird conservation and protect some pockets of Bengaluru as bird watching destinations. Several green pockets in the city such as the IISc campus, Bangalore University, Lalbagh, Cubbon Park, Palace Grounds, Bannerghatta forests, Tataguni Estate surroundings and dozens of water bodies are good bird watching destinations and they can be developed as bird watching centres.

"This will not only help birds to survive, but also help restore the lakes or green pockets. For instance, shore waters are the best habitats for certain birds such as waders. After the shores were laid with concrete several birds moved away from the city's water bodies," said a bird expert.


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