Bird ringing forms a crucial aspect of studying birds by helping scientists understand details, such as the routes birds use, their migration patterns and resting sites. In a landmark decision to further bird ringing studies, the Maharashtra Forest Department has designated the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) as the state nodal agency for establishing a coordinated approach in bird ringing and record-keeping.
BNHS has been ringing birds since 1926 in various parts of the country. With this move, BNHS has become the lead agency to coordinate bird ringing and migration studies. It will provide assistance to NGOs and educational institutions to undertake such studies, and will also draft the protocol for bird ringing. All the proposed bird ringing projects shall be scrutinised by BNHS for further clearance by the authorities concerned.
Dr Deepak Apte, director, BNHS said, “Such decisions will go a long way in assisting the forest department in developing strategies for recording and managing migratory species. This kind of coordinated work will allow BNHS to compile data in a systematic manner and eventually share it with forest department in administratively useable format. Also, BNHS aims to develop national flyway maps. We believe we are the best suited to do this as we have data about bird migration collected over the past 70 years.”
BNHS has ringed over a million birds at different places in the Indian subcontinent, with the initiation of bird ringing study in India in 1959 funded by the World Health Organisation.
Further on, BNHS carried out numerous long-term projects, such as the Avifauna Project and Bird Migration Project focusing on the movement of population structure of the Indian avifauna, and migration pattern of Indian birds and making its data bank respectively.
All of these studies were undertaken with the continuous support and cooperation from the state forest department. “We hope the Government of India will also accept our request to make BNHS the nodal agency for bird migration studies at national level,” added Apte.