HYDERABAD: Thanks to the degradation of biodiversity and resultant food scarcity, a whole variety of birds are now looking for alternative food sources, thereby fuelling further man-animal conflicts. Researchers from Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU), who were studying sorghum and sunflower crops in Telangana, found many instances of peacocks, large grey blabbers and the great tit eating sunflower plants.
Peacocks are known to feed on insects and seeds of short variety plants, like grass seeds. However, the researchers found many instances of peacocks trampling on sunflower plants to feed on its seeds, leaving behind a trail of destruction. The blabbers and great tit are known to feed on insects, but they were also seen feeding on sunflower seeds.
This made the researchers curious, for sunflowers are not a natural choice of food source for these birds. They also found a red-breasted parakeet, which is alien to the State and a native of the Himalayan region, feeding on sorghum. Interestingly, these parakeets are frugivorous, known for feeding predominantly on fruits.
There are around 18 species of depredatory birds that are known to cause damage sorghum and sunflower fields. However, this list does not include peacocks, great tit or large grey blabbers. But on the ground, researchers recorded a whopping 971 instances of the blabber feeding on sunflower plants within a 25-day time span.
Similarly, within a 9-day span they found 53 instances of peacocks eating sunflower seeds and in a 20-day span they found 47 instances of the great tit eating the same.
“This indicates that there is a decline in their natural habitats due to human activities. This is affecting their food habits and this is not good news for farmers as they could turn into pests in future. For instance, the rose ringed parakeets used to feed predominantly on fruits. However, over the years they have moved to eating grains for survival due to a dearth in their primary food source. Now, farmers consider these parakeets as pests,” says ornithologist and one of the researchers V Vasudeva Rao, prinicipal scientist at PJTSAU.
Over 20 hectares of Haritha Haaram plantations damaged
Saplings planted over an area of 20 hectares as part of the Telangana ku Haritha Haram programme, were damaged by villagers of Katinagaram and Bavaragonda in Gangaram mandal of Mahbubabad district on Wednesday night. The villagers entered into the plantations and started ploughing the land in 1112 compartment of Kothaguda forest range. The saplings were damaged by spraying chemicals. As per sources in forest department, two persons named M Satthireddy and Kunem Prabhakar are abettors of this incident, who belong to the New Democracy Party.