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Booming real estate, drying of water resources reducing population density of birds in Uttarakhand

Nainital: Uttarakhand has always been among the favorite destinations of bird enthusiasts as it houses 693 of about 1,303 bird species found in India. Just about two months ago, a group of 20 birdwatchers, who took part in the  "Great Backyard Bird Count 2022", spotted 201 species of Himalayan birds, including the very rare red crossbill, in the hill state.
However, over the last past decade, amateur bird watchers and ornithologists have been finding it difficult to spot several species of birds in Uttarakhand due to a range of factors, including booming real estate in pristine areas, deforestation and drying of rivers, among others.
Harish Lama, a naturalist and Birdwatcher from Sattal (Nainital), told, "With concrete structures coming up on green patches, the population density of birds has reduced significantly in the hill state."
He added, "Gradual drying of water sources- like streams, ponds, and basins-is also affecting birds adversely. The primary reasons behind loss of crucial water resources are climate change, encroachment, and urbanization."
Speaking on the issue, Neer Bankoti, a young bird enthusiast from Bageshwar said cutting (or pruning) of shrubs is "reducing" the population density of birds in the state. "Shrubs provide indeal conditions for nesting and hatching but expanding real estate has led to a loss of habitats for birds," said Bankoti. Birders also point out that guest houses built in the hills to encourage avian tourism are actually a cause behind a drop in bird sightings in Uttarakhand. Shubham Kumar, a bird watcher from Bharatpur (Rajasthan), said, "It is an irony that structures built for tourists to enjoy bird watching end up clearing their natural habitats. At least reserved forests must not be disturbed to ensure that the state's rich biodiversity is conserved."
When asked about the steps that can be taken to preserve bird species, experts say that Uttarakhand must protect its grasslands and cultivated lands to remain a preferred destination for avians.
In fact, state residents can also contribute to the cause by planting trees, replacing ornamental trees with fruit trees, putting up nestling bird boxes in our gardens and other open areas, and keeping earthen bowls of water on the terrace for birds.
Meanwhile, Prakash Chandra Joshi, range officer, Nainital, told that the state forest department is digging water holes, and planting hedges and fruit trees to preserve the natural habitat of birds and other animals. He added that several measures are also being taken to prevent forest fires that damage bird nests.

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