Waking up to the singing of birds in the morning is a rare thing now. Almost half of our birds are endangered today because our reckless actions have destroyed their habitats and food driving them towards extinction. There are a lot of different species of birds found in India, and we can feel the presence of them as they fill our surroundings with their colors and songs. These birds have an important role in our ecosystem. But due to environmental degradation, a lot of our birds are now classified as endangered. The populations of many birds have declined at alarming rates. Some of them are near threatened, some are significantly threatened, and some have already become extinct.
White Rumped Vulture
The White-rumped Vulture is critically endangered in India and worldwide. This bird is right on the verge of extinction. Flocks of cultures roaming our villages are now a thing of the past. Lack of suitable food and habitats and the use of chemicals like ‘Diclofenac’ to treat farm animals are some of the main factors of their decline.
Pallas’s Fish Eagle
The Pallas’s Fish Eagle is also one of the most endangered bird of prey. They are large sized dark brown birds, and they inhabit our wetlands. These fish hunters live in India from October to February, which is their breeding season. They build nests on tall trees by the waterside using branches and leaves. This important species is currently considered endangered worldwide.
Spoon Billed Sandpiper
The Spoon-billed Sandpiper was also another bird on the verge of extinction. Currently, there are only 200 living members of this species worldwide. This extremely rare bird can be found in our coastal regions. Indian Skimmers are native to our coastal areas. This orange-yellow beaked bird can be found in large rivers and deltas.
Masked Finfoots are one of our endangered aquatic birds and classified vulnerable worldwide. This yellow beaked shy bird is the resident of our deep forests, and their favorite resting spots are trees hanging over the water. Thy builds their nests on trees just a little above the ground or water. There are only three species in this family of birds.
Lesser Adjutant is another endangered bird found in coastal areas of the country. This shiny black bird is more than a meter tall and looks for food in grassy areas by the riverside or soft muddy areas. They can be seen alone, in pairs or flocks and hunt frogs, fishes, crabs and other reptiles. A lot of forest dwelling birds are endangered now. Some of these are horn-bill, grey peacock pheasant, Kalij pheasant, black francolin, Great Slaty Woodpecker, dollar bird and hill myna. Hornbills are large thick beaked birds that live in deep forests, and the presence of these birds indicate a healthy forest. This withdrawn bird is endangered in India but not worldwide. Grey Slaty Woodpeckers are another endangered species that reside in deep forests. They are large sized woodpeckers and have a mutually beneficial relationship with the forests ecosystem. It is an evergreen forest bird that is vulnerable worldwide. Hill Mynas are only found in our hilly forests. These medium sized mynas are exclusively forest dwellers and have very attractive yellow spots around their heads and beaks. Some other forest dwelling species of Parakeets, owls and kingfishers are also endangered in India. The biggest threat to these birds is the lack of food and habitats. Our forests and wetlands are the most important habitats for birds, and we have destroyed them. Additionally, illegal trafficking and hunting businesses are a huge threat to these species. This is only pushing these birds further towards extinction.
The reasons for the extinction of these birds are both humanly and natural. Cattle are treated with the help of some chemical medicines used by vets in India, and the problem is that this chemical remains in the cow’s body even after death. Then when the vultures eat this dead meat, the chemical kills them. Most of the threatened birds are migratory birds, and these birds are dependent on several different countries. Landfills are being used to cover muddy coastal regions for industrial development between China and Korea. A lot of migratory birds stop over there on the way south from Russia, and they rest & eat in these stops on their long southern migrations. So, when they don’t have these suitable stops, a lot of birds are dying amidst the migration. This is why a lot of migratory birds can be found in the Endangered Species list. More ports are being built at different seashores and as a result, other than spoon-billed sandpipers, a lot of other animals like sea turtles, etc. will be destroyed. We need to realize that without the birds, our living places will be nothing but garbage areas. Without vultures, a lot of dead animals just rot on the streets. Basically, in rural areas and villages, there is no one to get rid of carcasses, but if vultures are there, they would also prevent any diseases spreading from those rotting bodies.
There is another thing that we don’t think about in this case. There is an economic value of these birds. The bird watching industry in North America earns almost 25 billion dollars every year, and around 60000 people are working in this sector. The endangered species we have in India are unique because they are rarely found in other parts of the world. Spoon-billed sandpiper and masked finfoot can only be seen here and Bangladesh. If we can market this, we can attract a lot of tourists for bird watching. This will also help the locals in those areas drastically. However, nothing significant has been done by the government in this area yet. In Nepal, they have something called, “Vulture Restaurants” where they feed vultures with fresh meat every week so that they avoid eating the chemical-filled dead animals. We seriously need to educate the next generations of our endangered species and our ecosystem. This will open a new world for them. Other measures include captive breeding, reintroduction, translocations and habitat protection.