Tuesday, November 25, 2008

December is Bird Month

I receive several emails from time to time pertaining to various events in Sri Lanka. Some of them are interesting, such as the one I received today about the need to appreciate the birds around us. It is something that can apply to any one of us, irrespective of which country we belong to, and I thought it worthwhile to reproduce some of it. Here goes:
Birds are a common sight in Sri Lanka but many of us fail to appreciate them. To increase the awareness of the public about our feathered friends, the Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGSL) has launched its annual nationwide program to assess and study the distribution and presence of birds in Sri Lanka.
December has been declared Bird Counting Month as migrant birds that arrive from other countries too peak in this month. Participation is simple and one need not be an expert birder to get involved. Those who would like to participate has only to watch birds in as many places as possible - own home gardens, school premises, workplace, lakesides, paddy fields –any place that is frequented by birds. They can make a list of birds that they can identify in a given location and either email it to fogsl@slt.lk or post it in to FOGSL, Department of Zoology, University of Colombo, Colombo 3. The list should include the date, location, weather at the time, the habitat that the bird was observed in, and the name and contact details of the observer. Participants can also enter data directly to http://www.worldbirds.org/srilanka which is part of the international network of databases used to analyze status of birds.
The numbers of birds in various areas are also dwindling due to causes such as deforestation, wetland reclamation and changes in habitat. Even the birds that are common today can be diminished without our knowledge. An example is the House Sparrow decline. A decade ago, most of the houses had nest boxes inviting this cute bird. But they are not to be seen in many areas, where they were previously common. So no species can be labeled as safe no matter what its number is today. It is only when the public become aware of the value of these beautiful creatures, can more be achieved towards protecting them. Creating this awareness is another aim of Bird Month.
The Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka is the national affiliate of Birdlife International (www.birdlife.org). Since its establishment in 1976, FOGSL has worked towards two goals-firstly, to study birds in the wild and determine which ones need protection and in what manner, secondly to increase the understanding of the public so that the threat towards birds would lessen. FOGSL based at University of Colombo and conducts a monthly lecture on birds on last Saturday of every month. Log on to www.fogsl.lk get more information.

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