In a first-of-its-kind project in Maharashtra, various birds in Pune such as the rose ringed parakeets, red-vented bulbuls, and the rare Indian grey hornbill are being documented for the Pune Bird Atlas (PBA).
A global biodiversity hotspot and a UNESCO World Heritage Region, Pune is a city that is also continuously changing, said Siddharth Biniwale, who is a naturalist and a core member of PBA, according to The Indian Express.
"We need to see if, with this changing habitat, there are species that are altering their preferences and behaviour in the Indian city area. What has been the impact on breeding now that several parks have come up where some of the species have started roosting? We are trying to address the question of which species occur in Pune and in which areas," he added.
PBA operates under the aegis of Bird Count India. The data is uploaded in e-bird, a project of Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology, and is aimed at helping scientists explore a broader picture of the environment and local migratory patterns.
"In 1998-2000, the city's biodiversity was surveyed and monitored, including birds. It is after 20 years that another big initiative is taking place. There are birding hotspots such as the tekdis and Pashan lake as well as the Mulla Mutha. These areas have developed a lot of data over the last 10-20 years but there are huge gaps in between," Sanjeev Nalavade, retired professor and former HOD of the Geography department of Fergusson College.
"We would like to have continuous data available for every ward of the city. This will be a database that will be used as a reference point for any conservation activity related to biodiversity," added Nalavade, who is also a birder with 40 years of experience.
The idea of PBA took shape in January 2020 and the data collection started the following month. The participants were at the peak of data collection and were surveying rivers, drains, streams and sewage drainage as well as quarries on Vetal tekdi and other places, when the lockdown was announced and they had to shut down.
A citizen science initiative, PBA has over 100 volunteers and will be continued for three or more years to analyse the data accurately. The team has so far recorded over 170 species.