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State of India’s Birds 2020

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

State of India’s Birds 2020

What to study?

For Prelims: Key findings.

For Mains: Concerns expressed and ways to address them, conventions in this regard.

Context: The research titled ‘State of India’s Birds 2020’ (SoIB), put together by over ten institutions and numerous citizen scientists, was released recently at the ongoing United Nations 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Key findings:

  1. Over 50 per cent of the 867 species studied, exhibit a population decline in the long term while 146 are at great risk in the short term.
  2. The populations of raptors (eagles, hawks, kites, etc.), migratory seabirds and birds that live in specialised habitats were the most affected in the past decades.
  3. The number of birds in the Western Ghats, which is considered one of the world’s foremost biodiversity hotspots, also declined by almost 75 per cent since 2000.
  4. Indian Peafowl, the national bird, has shown a dramatic increase in both abundance and distribution across the country. The number of house sparrows has also stabilised nationwide, although there is still a marked decline in their population in cities.
  5. 126 species, including the peafowl, house sparrow, Asian Koel, rose-ringed parakeet and the common tailorbird, are expected to increase in numbers, primarily due to their ability to survive in human habitats.

How was the study carried out?

The data for these birds was collected through the citizen science app ‘eBird’, which received a record ten million entries by approximately 15,500 citizen scientists.

Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology hosts the app, while its India-specific portal is curated and customised by Bird Count India, an informal group of birdwatching enthusiasts, ornithologists, naturalists and conservationists dedicated to documenting Indian birds.


This assessment makes it very clear that our birds are in overall decline, in some cases catastrophically so.

Several spectacular birds, many of them endemic to the sub-continent, face a growing threat from loss of habitat due to:

  • Human activity.
  • The widespread presence of toxins, including pesticides.
  • Hunting and trapping for the pet trade.


  1. It categorises 101 species as ‘High Conservation Concern for India’.
  2. 319 species are classified under the ‘Moderate Conservation Concern’ These species must be carefully monitored to rapidly detect and act upon signs of continuing decline.

What next?

This information should also translate into many voices being raised for bird conservation, both among conservation bodies, and the general public.

Many urgent policy measures need to be adopted immediately. Conservation action must be taken immediately to identify causes of decline and implement measures to halt and reverse the trend for these species.

Sources: the Hindu.