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J&K’s avian diversity: Study identifies 592 bird species

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Migratory birds fly over wetland Hokersar, 16 kms north of Srinagar November 19, 2013.

Srinagar, Mar 28: Jammu and Kashmir’s rich avifauna has witnessed a notable surge, with the discovery of 592 bird species, according to a recent study published in Indian Birds, a journal of South Asian Ornithology.

The comprehensive analysis led by Wildlife Warden North Intesar Suhail and co-authored by Muzaffar A Kichloo, Neeraj Sharma, Parvaiz Shagoo, and Parmil Kumar highlights a significant improvement from previous reports.

Previously, the last checklist in 2020 listed 555 bird species for Jammu and Kashmir, including Ladakh.

Wildlife Warden North, Intesar Suhial told KNO that the collection of bird images has emerged as a significant and extensive ornithological database for the current checklist. Over the years, bird photography has rapidly evolved in Jammu & Kashmir.

According to the analysis report, 592 species have been reported in 21 orders and 88 families, of which 555 are supported with media documentation, 326 have been either examined in hand or deposited in museums across the world, and six species have been accepted based solely on documentation considered credible.

“586 species have been validated either through specimens or photographs, and 564 species are listed on eBird, accounting for 95% of all the birds reported from Jammu & Kashmir. A summary of the source of records is provided. Out of the total 592 species, 25 are globally threatened. We present our evaluation notes for six species accepted based solely on documentation”, the report said.

The meticulous collation of ornithological literature, specimen collections, and online and published sources, supported by photographic evidence, call recordings, and sight documentation, forms the basis of the report.

The study also sheds light on the global significance of the region’s avian population, with 25 species classified as globally threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Moreover, previously unexplored areas have emerged as top bird-watching destinations, including the north and central Kashmir Valley, the Shiwaliks, parts of the Lesser Himalaya, and the southern plains of Jammu Division.

The report also states that seven species reported from Jammu & Kashmir are endemic to western Himalaya (Praveen & Jayapal 2024). These include Western Tragopan, Cheer Pheasant, White-throated Tit, Kashmir Nuthatch, White-cheeked Nuthatch, Orange Bullfinch, and Spectacled Finch.

Additionally, the Biddulph subspecies of the Tawny Owl Strix aluco, endemic to the western Himalayas, is also found here. Furthermore, the Kashmir Flycatcher Ficedula subrubra, is known to breed only in the Kashmir Valley. (With KNO inputs)