The heat of the summer across most of India forces many birds to move north to their breeding grounds and many birders also retreat to the shelter of their homes and away from the field. However, May is a fantastic time to see and hear our resident bird species. Amongst these, we also see birds that are found only in South Asia (and no where else in the world!) and thus, are “endemic” to our region.
What is not known to many, however, is that a surprisingly large number of our resident species – even the ones we commonly see around us – are endemic or near-endemic to the Indian Subcontinent. This includes birds often found in urban parks and gardens – such as the Ashy Prinia, Jungle Babbler or the White-browed Wagtail. Overall, these birds combine with the more enigmatic ones such as the Great Indian Bustard or the near-mythical Jerdon’s Courser to complete a list of 226 species that are endemic/near-endemic to the subcontinent.
The Endemic Bird Day is an annual opportunity to go out and document these residents around us. This collective effort would give a snapshot of the distribution and breeding of these endemic species, and will, in the long-term, provide a valuable overall resource. In the process, we will also contribute to the Global Big Day where thousands of birders across the world will participate.
So, let’s get out with our gear on 14 May 2016 and record the birds we see on eBird. It’ll be useful to record all birds (both endemic and non-endemic), while also recording numbers/counts, making separate lists for separate locations and noting down any evidence of breeding. While it’d be great if you could visit an area of high endemism (such as the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Western Ghats) don’t forget that your local neighbourhood park may also hold more endemics than you think!