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Indian Birdwatching Jaipur

Birds are indicators of the state of the environment

Studying birds tells us about the habitats on which we all depend. The dramatic decline in Eurasian Skylark numbers in western Europe is indicative of the relentless intensification of agricultural practices and the non-sustainability of the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy.

In Costa Rica, lowland forest birds are extending their ranges up mountain slopes, apparently because the high-altitude cloud-forests are drying out as a result of global warming.

Common Whitethroat numbers in Europe fell sharply in the late 1960s. The cause was traced to the desertification of their wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa, a problem exacerbated from overgrazing by livestock.

In the 1950s and 1960s, a huge drop in the numbers of Peregrines and other birds of prey raptors in Europe and the USA was linked to the build up of DDT in the food chain. Traces of these were increasingly being found in people. Could population crashes of raptors in Asia and elsewhere be indicative of a similar poisoning of the environment?

In general, places that are rich in bird species are also rich for other forms of biodiversity. Birds are thus rightly regarded as an ‘indicator species’.

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