Watching our winged friends
You wake up to the twittering of birds. Your heart is filled with joy. And suddenly you feel you want to know more about our winged friends.
Why don’t you follow up on this sudden urge of yours and go bird watching, or as they say ‘birding’?
Birding involves observing birds in their natural habitat vis-à-vis their physical features, habits, movements, flights and characteristic calls or songs. Apart from deriving pleasure from birding, you can also better your health, come closer to nature, and help conserve the fast dwindling bird species.
You can also check the health of your environment by inspecting the number and variety of birds found in your area. For those seeking a respite from the banal, stressful and claustrophobic city life, birding will be a very alluring outlet.
Though Nepal occupies just a fraction of the world space, it takes pride in housing around 862 different species of birds, comprising about 8 per cent of the world bird species. This includes around 29 globally threatened species, 19 threatened species, and 15 restricted-range species.
Kosi Tapu, Annapurna Region, Langtang region and national parks of Makalu Barun, Bardia, Chitwan, and Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve are among the major birding sites in Nepal. The Kathmandu Valley itself shelters more than 500 species of birds, with Phulchowki, Shivapuri, Nagarjun and Taudaha being the popular sites for birding in and around the Valley.
Not that dear:
And the best part of birding is that you don’t need to have deep pockets.
“However, it is suggested that you carry a pair of binoculars to get a clearer view, a guide book to identify birds (Birds of Nepal by Dr Robert L Fleming, et al recommended), and a notebook and pencil to jot down the bird’s descriptions or draw it,” says Dr Hem Sagar Baral, who heads the Bird Conservation Nepal.
A camera, especially digital one, can come in handy when you come across new species or very rare species of birds.
Later on, when you delve more this activity, a sound recorder can be beneficial “to record the calls of birds, which remain in hiding and can replayed to bring out the bird’s opposite sex into view,” says Rajendra N Suwal, managing director of Nepalnature.com, which promotes birding tourism in Nepal.
Birds around town:
While going birding, try to identify as many birds as you can by referring to the guidebook. You’ll see that your interest and excitement snowballs with every new entry in your notebook.
Around Kathmandu, one would be quite lucky to see Nepal’s own Spiny Babbler, Cutia, hoary-throated Barwing, blue-naped Pitta, grey-sided laughing Thrush, chestnut-headed Tesia, scarlet Finch, and spot-winged Grosbeak. You need not leave out some of the common birds like the Oriental Magpie Robin, Common Tailorbird, Cattle Egrets, White-throated Kingfisher, and Oriental White eye.
“It is better to start by watching wetland birds, as they are easier to see than the forest birds,” says Suwal.
One can go birding all year round except during the rainy season. However, the ideal months to embark on the bird watching trail is from October to March, according to Baral
“At home and at school, bird-watching culture needs to be inculcated in the younger generation to develop a healthy habit and simultaneously spread awareness on the need to protect birds before we’re left with singing praises of a paradise lost,” says Baral.
Everything is right in front of us — why not enjoy their honeyed songs, colourful plumage, vivacious dances and buoyant flights, simultaneously making an effort to ensure their long life by protecting their habitat?
Rare ones: Spiny Babbler, Cutia, hoary-throated Barwing, blue-naped Pitta, grey-sided laughing Thrush, chestnut-headed Tesia, scarlet Finch, and spot-winged Grosbeak
Common ones: Oriental Magpie Robin, Common Tailorbird, Cattle Egrets, White-throated Kingfisher, and Oriental White-eye
The Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) is a prominent birding club established in 1982 by birding enthusiasts. Every first and third Saturday of the month, members of BCN embark on their day’s sojourn with birds. The BCN caters a birding guide to interested non-members. For details, dial 4417805/4439296
A paradise for feathered creatures:
If you are interested in bird watching, you can even do so by making your garden a bird habitat.
Should you have a spacious garden, you can enrich it by planting trees, especially those that bear fruits. Another way to attract birds is to spreading food grains like rice and wheat. Be alert for the quick feline is very fond of birds too!
You can also create a bird bath with a tub of water hung from the branches of a tree or atop a pillar. During summer, birds will come to take a dip in it, or to drink from it.
You can also make artificial nest boxes to shelter your favourite garden bird.