Bird Watching

Bird Diversity in the city in turmoil.

Bird Diversity in the city in turmoil.
-Ajay Gadikar

The avifauna diversity in the city is rapidly unbalancing, with some species gaining advantage on other species.
We have seen fast diminishing of the house sparrow population in the city, like wise once the commonly found crow is losing its place from city areas.  Many bird species which feed upon insects are also affected, but the ones which seem to be omnipresent and gaining numbers are the Rock Pigeons.

The city has seen number of skyscrapers and residential complexes constructed in last few years and many more are coming up.  With the rise in number of buildings, the pigeon population is also increasing as they find more places to make their nest in the buildings.  The bird species which live and lay eggs on ground have suffered the most due to their habitat loss.

Almost all metro cities of India are facing this imbalance. The pigeon population has risen to levels that has started to create a menace for the public. They are unwanted guests now in any area of the city.

This grey colour bird adapts easily to humans.  If one looks out of the window at any time of the day it seems to be the only bird species present in the city today.

Pigeons are synonymous in birds what rats are in mammals.  They are prolific breeders.   Their population in our city is multiplying exponentially.  You can see them at every possible nook and corner of a building.  I have seen them taking over the nesting places of  laughing doves  that were present in my township some time ago.   

Once a rock pigeon comes in any area,  it nests at all possible places like inside hoarding boards, AC ducts, etc.  depriving all other birds from nesting at those places.

Pigeon poop contains ammonia and salt.  Combined with water, it becomes acidic and can rust metal.  Generally they are most responsible for desecrating almost all statues present in the city,  building tops, dish antennas and towers.  The bird droppings make the entire place filthy, ones budget of cleaning and maintenance also increases.

Apart from this, Pigeon droppings emit a stench which also leads to health issues.  Dried up droppings of pigeon cause a lot respiratory illness in cities. These birds also carry parasites and bacteria.  Pigeons nest on top of Air conditioners and they have a type of fungus that can cause Lung diseases.  People living in close proximity of birds have a higher risk of suffering from skin allergy, cough, bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory disorders as their feathers are present in the vicinity.

The unregulated practice of feeding is one of the main reasons for population explosion. At many places in cities we see people feeding grains to these birds without knowing the repercussions it will cause later to all of us. 
Absence of natural predators is also responsible for their rapid growth.

Ajay Gadikar is a bird watcher from Indore.

( Photgraphs-Kabootharkhana, Dadar West, Mumbai by Susan Sharma; Blue Rock Pigeon by Ragoo Rao)

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