Guwahati: Praveen J, IIT Guwahati alumnus, was in Mauritius during the Kati Bihu festival this time. A keen birder, he was super excited to join the Kati Bihu Bird count.

The Assam Bird Monitoring Network, the organisers of the Bihu Bird Count – a bird monitoring program – say not only people from the state, but people from outside the state and country are participating.

“Having participated actively in Rongali Bihu count from the Karimganj district, I was super keen to join the Kati Bihu count as well. Thanks to the organisers for allowing me to join the count while I was on a vacation in the Maldives. We did Bihu count as a family watching the local subspecies of Striated Herons,” Praveen told EastMojo.

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Birders have to send the species details, which they spotted in the country during the specified time of the event, in a checklist. 

Birders from 11 states outside Assam participated in the Kati Bihu bird count from October 15- 18.

The Kati Bihu Bird Count this year saw 28 districts participating from Assam. Eleven states, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Gujrat, Tamil Nadu and Delhi (UT) also took part in the state-held Bihu Bird Count. Additionally, checklists were submitted from Kaafu and Maldives. However, the observation records shared by people from outside Assam were not considered for analysis.

The Kati Bihu Bird Count recorded 285 species through 300 checklists. Spotted Dove was the most frequently sighted species. It was followed by Common Myna and Red-vented Bulbul. Some rare sightings included Ashy-headed Green-Pigeon, Bay Woodpecker, Bengal Florican, Black-breasted Parrotbill, Black-faced Bunting, Black-tailed Crake, Cachar Bulbul etc.

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Jugal Borah from North Lakhimpur told EastMojo, “I used to do bird watching now and then, but this is my first time counting birds. During the time, we witnessed how some birds adjusted themselves to live alongside humans, how some birds helped the farmers; these are some invaluable lessons I learned in the event.

“I hope Assam Bird Monitoring Network will inspire and motivate us by arranging more programs like Kati Bihu Bird Count in the future,” he said.

Parag Patgiri, pursuing a Master’s Degree in Zoology from Bodoland University, has been interested in studying birds. However, he never got a chance to explore it scientifically.

“At Bodoland University, I met my professor Dr Hilloljyoti Singha, an expert ornithologist. After meeting him, I got the opportunity to expand the field of my study.

“He introduced me to Dr Jaydev Mandal, who is also an ornithologist. Mandal skilfully guided me on how to carry out the project of bird count with “eBird”. And with their guidance, I started my birding passionately and on a deeper level” Patgiri told EastMojo.

 “I noticed that the local people are very ignorant about the importance of a bird count. As a result of that ignorance, there is a lack of conventional documentation of birds. This is why we should organise different kinds of programs to make people aware of the importance of birds to form stable biodiversity,” he added.

“This event is expected to deliver a better understanding of the seasonal and temporal distribution of birds in Assam among the common citizens across different terrains as well as imbibe the sense of attachment towards nature within people. The initiative will also try reaching out to people from other parts of the country as well as the globe, for people to participate and document birds during the Bihu Bird Count,” Jaydev Mandal, the co-founder of Assam Bird Monitoring Network, told EastMojo

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