Bird Watching

Citizen Science Initiatives & You

Citizen Science Initiatives & You
-Ajay Gadikar

Now a days we are hearing  more and more about  climate change around us.    Recently, much is being discussed about it and its impact on various eco systems of world.   The question that arises is what is the impact the climate change may have on birds in India?

When it comes to study the effects of climate change and what impacts it can have on birds of India, very little is known to us and really we do not have any answer to it, as we do not have enough quality data about the occurrence and seasonality of birds across India.

The citizen science initiatives where in a large number of bird watchers contribute in documentation of birds can bring some quality data about bird and then probably we can find answers to know the impacts of climate change on birds.   It encourages every casual to serious birder to record and upload his observations on the electronic platform, so that the information gathered can be used for scientific and research purposes.
India is lacking behind in the quality data on the abundance, seasonality and movements of birds,  but slowly we are picking up, initiatives taken by organization such as Bird Count India under whose umbrella many of the birding groups and NGOs have joined,  is constantly encouraging birders across the country to report their sightings and upload on the website.

Over a period a huge database will be created from which many findings about the birds can be revealed.
In Kerala for example, volunteers have made significant contributions in state wide collaborative surveys.  Such surveys and the data collected from that are already yielding valuable information.
Earlier a program called Migrant Watch monitored the arrival and overwintering of nine common migrants to India. The project was contributed by hundreds of volunteers.   The data collected from such projects is accessible to all participants and anyone who want to see.

A major advantage of such state level data will be to unify efforts made by individuals,  nature clubs and bird watching groups into a project of great importance.
Recently such a project has been kick started for collecting such data from the central India (Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh).   Through this project the old information will also be collected apart from that workshops will be undertaken to encourage birders to record and share their sightings on website.
In the series of workshops across M.P. one such workshop was organized in Indore to make birders aware about this project and the ebird tool.   A poster for an upcoming workshop in Indore is attached below.

BNHS is also collecting data under the Common Bird Monitoring Program (CBMP) on the same lines. By sharing our data on such platforms we can contribute to the growth of Indian ornithology in some way.
When such data is collected and analyzed we can get to know the effects the climate change and its impacts on birds so that we can prepare ourselves to address future issues.

(Ajay Gadikar is a bird watcher from Indore)

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