Lockdown becomes blissful for urban birds

Kathmandu, April 13

The unprecedented reduction of noise and air pollution followed by weeks of lockdown amidst the prime mating season for urban birds, is expected to increase the decreasing population of such birds in Kathmandu Valley.

While the weeks of lockdown has created difficulty in maintaining livelihood for humans, bird conservationists and bird experts have said the lockdown has proved blissful for urban birds that play an important role in maintaining ecological balance.

The spring season is the ideal time for birds to attract their mates and they do this by producing some sound. By doing so, birds defend their territory from other birds in the spring. This spring has been really wonderful for birds as they can easily attract their mates in the absence of vehicular noise during the lockdown.

Reduction in carbon monoxide and other harmful gases emitted by vehicles and industries have improved air quality creating more amiable environment for such birds. Moreover, reduced human interference in the environment has also created better environment for urban birds not only to survive but also to flourish.

Ornithologist Hem Sagar Baral said, “Our studies and experience shows that the number of urban birds will rapidly increase in a few months due to the lockdown that fortunately happened in the prime mating season.”

Some of the common urban birds found inside Kathmandu valley are red-vented bulbul, oriental magpie robin, common tailor bird, house sparrow, tree sparrow, common myna, house crow, oriental white-eye, barn swallow, house swift, rock pigeon, spotted owlet and barn owl.

According to Baral, for birds such as oriental magpie robin, spring is the best season for mating “Since the sky is clear these days and the noise pollution has gone down significantly, a large number of birds will be able to attract their mates,” he added.

Krishna Bhusal, a conservation officer at Bird Conservation Nepal, said that the lockdown had also benefited summer migratory birds that travel from southern Indian territories and Sri Lanka to the forest areas in Kathmandu valley. Bhusal said that the Asian cuckoo, which travel from as far as Sri Lanka often lay eggs in the nests of crows in urban areas.

Bhusal said, “This period is best for breeding for summer migratory birds such as Asian Koel.”

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 14, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.