• Sunday, 18 August 2019

Roosting sites of waterbirds not always near wetlands: Study (Feb 2 is World Wetlands Day)

New Delhi, Feb 2 : Roosting sites are not always near or in wetlands, as is often speculated for waterbirds. This is true both in rural and urban settings and there is a huge human tolerance, a yet-to-be published study with focus mainly on Rajasthan says.

And this is so despite massive 'disturbance' around urban roost sites.

"This underscores the high value of the human attitude in Rajasthan, and indeed many locations in India, in not deliberately disturbing birds and tolerating waterbird aggregations, Mysuru-based Nature Conservation Foundation scientist K.S. Gopi Sundar told IANS.

"This toleration is not trivial since these aggregations are noisy, smelly and can wake you up very early in the morning," he pointed out.

Sundar conducted this first-of-its-kind study with Udaipur-based Sukhadia University's Vijay Koli and researcher Sunil Chaudhury.

The study is likely to be published in Waterbirds journal later this year.

Sundar said given that nothing is known of roosting of large waterbirds, the work set out to explore where the black-headed ibis roosts for the night.

Anecdotal observations had made it clear that unlike some waterbirds, the ibis roosts not in wetlands but on trees.

The surveys included both rural and urban areas -- a first for ornithology in this part of the world.

"We usually focus either on urban areas, or on rural and wilder areas for bird work. The surveys included information not only on where the birds roosted, but also where they nested, and included information from waterbird roosts near ibis roosts that did not have ibises roosting," co-researcher Koli said.

According to Sundar, many more birds were counted in roosts compared to in nesting sites. This was quite a surprise, but on hindsight, was logical since roosts would include non-breeding birds as well.

The kinds of waterbirds in roosts with the ibis and in roosts without the ibis were different.

"Clearly, roost sites form a previously ignored component of the birds' life history and population that need to be paid attention to if we are to conserve these species over the long run," Sundar said.

(Vishal Gulati can be reached at vishal.g@ians.in)

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Roosting sites of waterbirds not always near wetlands: Study (Feb 2 is World Wetlands Day)

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