October 17, 2020

Odisha Channel Bureau
Bhubaneswar: While the beauty of birds addresses our aesthetic sensibility and creates love for them, it’s important to love birds for more than just their beauty. Everybody should nurture love for birds as it can go a long way to protect nature and ensure species diversity, said Gargi Mishra, a bird enthusiast from Odisha, who stays in Delhi.

She was in conversation with Ranjan Panda, Convenor of Water Initiatives & Senior Fellow of Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), on the Wild Bird Day today during a webinar titled “Birds of Mahanadi”.

This webinar is second in the “Human & Ecology Conversation Series” being organised by Mahanadi River Waterkeeper, Water Initiatives & FES. Mishra, in conversation with Panda, discussed on the importance of being a bird enthusiast in conservation of rivers and other wetlands and biodiversity.

Keeping in line with the design of this conversation series, Mishra narrated, in a story telling manner, how she developed an interest in birds.

“Being a city-dweller, I never thought of being in an intimate relationship with birds. But, as we have planted as much trees as possible in our balcony garden in Delhi, birds started visiting it. We kept food grains and water for the winged guests and they became our regular visitors. As a baby, my daughter fell in love with them. As she grew up, her love for the species too grew and so did mine,” she said.

“I started reading books of celebrated ornithologist Salim Ali just to reply to my inquisitive daughter’s series of questions and gradually delved deep into the world of avian beauties. Whenever we visit our home at Sonepur, which is on the bank of river Mahanadi, which hosts a wide species of colourful species we explore the birds, their features, names, ecological significance, food, habitat and nature. We started documenting the birds of Mahanadi and discussed with experts for more knowledge,” pointed out Mishra, while describing in detail about many species she and her daughter Athiya have documented from this basin.

Birds are very important in maintaining the health of rivers and other wetlands. While they help keep the water clean, they also keep the crop fields healthy by preying on insects that would otherwise have destroyed the crops. Birds are also scavengers and help our surroundings clean. However, we are exposing them to serious pollution, said Panda while responding to some of the participants’ queries. Our wetlands are shrinking at an alarming rate and that’s not at all a healthy sign, he lamented.

Mishra added, if we wish to protect these avian diversities, we need to protect their habitats. Pollution of rivers, water bodies and other areas is posing a great threat to the survival of these species. Besides industrial pollution and urban wastes, micro-plastic pollution is emerging as a huge problem for our birds, warned Gargi.

She further said, about 150 bird species have gone extinct just in the last decade and that is no good news. All of us, especially the young generation need to develop the hobby of bird watching so that they can explore their values for our own survival further, added Panda.

The webinar series will invite more such guests from different fields and we will have conservation with them in an informal story telling manner to develop the interest of common people, especially the youths, in conservation of nature and developing the human-ecology relationship for building a sustainable world, informed Panda.

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