According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (also known as the IUCN Red List or Red Data List), a total of 144 bird species from India are at risk. Of these, 30 are found in the state, including Mumbai.
"We need to take serious measures to protect habitats which sustain these species," Atul Sathe, public relations officer of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), said.
The report also lists the Great Indian Bustard, which was earlier classified as 'endangered', under the 'critically endangered' species, the highest level of threat according to the IUCN criteria.
Prompted by the alarming trend, naturalists have called for long-term breeding programmes to boost the country's diminishing bird population. "Research has shown that breeding bustards is not very difficult. We need to seriously think about a project that will help conserving the remaining bustard population," director of BNHS Asad Rahmani said.
Besides the Great Indian Bustard,
The IUCN's endangered list includes several bird species found in Mumbai, including the Lesser Flamingo, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Black-headed Ibis, Pallid Harrier, Black-bellied Tern and White-rumped Vulture.
Even the state bird of Maharashtra-the Forest Owlet-has been listed under the "Critically Endangered" category. It is believed to be endemic to Satpuda range which includes states like Maharashtra, Orissa, Gujarat , Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Bird experts state it is another example of how the species has suffered due habitat destruction.
"Encroachment of forest land and indiscriminate felling of trees are responsible for the decline in the Forest Owlet population.
Unfortunately, it is not among the priority species under the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-16)," ornithologist Girish Jathar said. He has closely studied the Forest Owlet in Toranmal Reserve Forest in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra
However, the trend in the bird population is worrying even globally. Experts are worried that almost a whooping 1,253 bird species that amounts to nearly 13% of the total number are threatened. "It is an indication that we need to act now, before they become extinct," said Jathar.
The IUCN Red List evaluation considers 144 bird species across India to be at risk, of which 30 are found in the state including Mumbai. Experts stated that the main threats for the birds in the country include hunting, disturbance, habitat destruction and also fragmentation.
Feathered Friends In Threat Zone
Lesser Flamingo: It's a migratory bird with pink wings and breeds on mudflats, usually far from the shore in large lakes. Every year, it migrates to the mudflats in Mumbai in search of food from Gujarat's Rann of Kutch region. It's listed in the "Near Threatened" category.
Great Indian Bustard: Found in many states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. It has been classified as "Critically Endangered".
Black-headed Ibis: It's not commonly found in the city and has been spotted in Uran, Thane creek and around lake areas. It's listed in the "Near Threatened" category.
Long-billed Vulture: This large, sandy brown bird with a pale underbody has been spotted in Khopoli, Karjat and Murbad. It is listed as "Critically Endangered".
Lesser Florican: Also known as Leekh, this large bird from the bustard family is found in several parts of the country, including Maharashtra. IUCN has listed it under the "Endangered" category.