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“Did you know that we can easily spot a common tailorbird at most places around the city, even in your backyard?” asks Vidit Gholam, a student of Malad. In KJ Somaiya College, Vidyavihar, Nikhil Sathe, an MSc student can now tell the difference between the wader group of birds and the coastal birds. “While coastal birds are the ones found roosting on seashores or in wetlands, the wader group of birds including herons is known to be constantly eating,” said Sathe. Gholam and Sathe were among a group of students who participated in the Global Backyard Bird Count, a project held under the Bird Count India project. Between February 17 and 21, students of several schools and colleges attempted to spot birds in their respective campuses.
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The birds spotted were then added to a global list through a platform called ebird. “The data collected will be analysed globally,” said Saurabh Sawant, the Maharashtra coordinator of the project.
“There are many species of birds found in urban settlements but they are either neglected or not understood well,” said Sawant. The global count helps track the species and find the trends of the species in urban spaces. “Anybody, be it students, teachers, office-goers, can participate in the watch. They have to spend at least 15 minutes a day for four days in their backyards or nearby school campuses to spot birds,” said Sawant.
For students, particularly those from schools, it is a unique experience. “Students find it amusing to be able to spot birds in their surroundings — something that students don’t bother to do usually. It is a more exciting experience to be able to identify each species,” said Nikita Pimple, principal of Rishi Valmiki Eco school in Goregaon, a school for the underprivileged.
The students spotted more than 10 species including Purple-rumped Sunbird and Asian Koel. “Students also spotted Blyth’s Reed Warbler [a migrating winter bird] for the first time on the campus,” said Pimple.The activity helped students feel closer to the environment. “I could learn about the bird diversity around me that I was unaware of before,” said Sathe.
“Students also learn to conserve the environment. When they know that so many birds and animals are dependent on trees, they wouldn’t want to cut trees,” said Pimple.