COIMBATORE: While for some Pongal festival is all about watching new films and visiting tourist spots, apart from taking part in the festivities, there are others who look for something else. For birdwatchers, it is time to take part in the Pongal Bird Count 2020 set to take place between January 16 and 19.
According to sources, birders from all over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will be documenting bird species and count the number of birds for at least 15 minutes each day and upload the observations onto ebird.org/India (an online platform for bird watchers to register their observations in a systematic manner).
The participants are free to choose any site of their interest as well. They can identify and count the birds from a nearby pond, a lake or even from their balcony or terrace.
The event that started in 2015 is part of a worldwide effort to document birds around the globe and to make birdwatching popular and scientific. The event is coordinated by Tamil Birders Network and Bird Count India.
"Birding or birdwatching is beneficial for both birds as well as human beings. Research shows that watching and admiring nature can make us feel better emotionally and contributes to our physical wellbeing. Seasonality, occurrence and distribution of even common birds around us is poorly known. Hence, identifying, counting birds and reporting about them on citizen science platforms can help us understand birds better. It can lead to their conservation as well," said P Rajangam a bird enthusiast who is also a teacher at Panchayat Middle School at Thalavaipatti in Salem.
"Unlike in 2015, the documenting birds has increased since many students have begun taking part in it," says Rajangam who is engaged in documenting birds for the past five years.
Sources added that, out of nearly 525 species likely present in Tamil Nadu, 362 species were reported within four days of the Pongal Bird Count 2019. In total, 209 participants took part in the event last year and spent on an average 7.08 hours birdwatching. Coimbatore and Kancheepuram districts had the highest number of participants at 42 and 27, espectively.
House crow was the most common resident bird appearing in 57.4 percent of all the checklists, followed by Common Myna (48.5 percent), Large-billed Crow (42.8 percent), Black Drongo (39.5 percent) and Rose-ringed Parakeet (36.7 percent).
The most common migrant appearing in 32.9 percent of the checklists was Blyth's Reed Warbler followed by Barn Swallow (24 percent), Blue-tailed Bee-eater (14.1 percent), Wood Sandpiper (10.1 percent) and Common Sandpiper (9.12 percent).