Nepal | July 08, 2020

Five migratory bird species disappear from Nepal

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, May 12

Five migratory bird species that used to be common in Nepal about a decade-and-half ago have now stopped appearing in the country.

Ornithologist Dr Hem Sagar Baral said Baer’s pochard, Eurasian curlew, Eurasian spoonbill, Pallas’s fish eagle, and Caspian tern had not been seen in Nepal since 2000.

Dr Baral said the Baer’s pochard used to be a regular visitor until 1990, when flocks of up to 20 birds were recorded at Koshitappu Wildlife Reserve.

“But after around 2000, this northern migratory bird was never seen in Nepal, and similar is the case with the Eurasian curlew, the Eurasian spoonbill, the Pallas’s fish eagle and the Caspian tern,” he told The Himalayan Times, “Two other resident species of Nepal have now become visitor birds.”

The Eurasian curlew was the most common migratory species in Nepal, with a flock of 750 birds recorded in Koshi in 1980. The Eurasian spoonbill was recorded to come to Nepal in a flock of up to 288 in 1979 in Koshitappu. Likewise, the previously resident species Pallas’s fish eagle have now become a migratory species in Shukla Phanta and began disappearing since around 1990.

The Caspian tern was common until 1989, but became an extremely irregular visitor after the 90’s until it stopped visiting.

Two resident species of Nepal—the Black-necked stork and the Black bellied tern—have now become visitor birds.

Dr Baral said that the causes behind this shift were habitat loss, hunting, trapping and poisoning, and climate change. Dr Baral said ignorance regarding conservation and the issues of migratory birds was also a major reason behind the disappearance of the bird species.

Just two days ago on May 10, the International Migratory Bird Day was celebrated globally, but Nepal remained indifferent completely. There were no conservation or awareness events of any kind held on the occasion of International Migratory Bird Day.

With the beginning of the warm season, northern migratory birds that were living in Nepal for more than six months have returned to their origin. Every year, northern migratory birds arrive in Kathmandu Valley and the wetlands in the southern plains to spend the entire winter season in Nepal.

Every year, nearly 150 regular migratory birds come to Nepal from China, Mongolia, Korea, Siberian region of Russia, and Central Asia.

Similarly, with the starting of the summer, southern migratory birds began arriving to Nepal for breeding and for easy access of food.

Every year, Nepal witnesses two kinds of bird migration—winter migration and summer migration. Almost always, winter migration in Nepal means that birds come from the north, soon after completing their breeding cycle.


A version of this article appears in print on May 13, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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