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Andhra’s first comprehensive atlas on birds of Tirupati released

Andhra Pradesh's first ever atlas on birds has found yellow throated bulbuls, listed as Vulnerable by IUCN, exclusively in the slopes of Tirumala hill (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@Anant_Shuklas)

Andhra Pradesh’s first-of-its-kind research on birds was released by the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Tirupati. Titled “Tirupati Bird Atlas” it is a comprehensive work on bird distribution in the area which takes into account several critical factors including their numbers, species diversity, behavioural patterns and habitats.

The survey for this Atlas covered a wide range of habitats which include urban zones, agricultural areas, industrial regions as well as forests in Tirupati. More than 60 volunteers were involved and they counted a total of 27,230 birds from 219 different species. This data was gathered in two seasons which spanned from October to November and then January.

Interestingly the survey found that species richness was most pronounced in mixed habitats and there were lesser species in core urban environments. It was also observed that there were significant changes in the number and distribution of birds between seasons for various bird species.

Talking about specific species, the survey found that the Indian spot-billed duck was absent in urban water bodies, while the Indian pond heron were widespread in varied habitats. Likewise, Asian koel was observed in different types of habitats, the common myna was missing in Tirumala hills.

Red vented bulbul
The Red Vented bulbuls were found in all the Tirupati habitats during the survey (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@atulMbhatnagar)

In the wetlands, white-throated kingfishers were frequently seen but white-breasted waterhens were missing in urban wetlands. All Tirupati habitats had Red-vented bulbuls including Tirumala hills though house sparrows appeared selectively in urban and semi-urban areas. Similarly, Ashy prinias were widespread while yellow-browed bulbuls are found exclusively in Tirumala’s moist habitats.

Seasonal variations also came to the fore during the survey. There was an increase in abundance of Cattle egrets during winters while there were significant shifts in Baya weavers from breeding (pre-monsoon) to winter.

Red necked falcon
Listed as Near Threatened by IUCN, the Red necked falcon was spotted during winter in open areas of rural TIrupati (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@sahil_choksi)

The study also highlighted the importance of conservation as it found the yellow-throated bulbul exclusively in the slopes of Tirumala hill and the red-necked falcon during the winter in open areas of rural Tirupati. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the former bird species is Vulnerable while the latter are Near Threatened.

The Andhra Pradesh State Forest Department conceived the atlas project and it was supported by the National Geographic Society and Duleep Matthai Nature Conservation Trust.