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482 insectivorous birds identified under agricultural ornithologist project

Shubhadeep Choudhury

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7

A total of 482 insectivorous birds useful in the predation of different crop pests have been identified under the All India Network Project (AINP) on Agricultural Ornithology initiated by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) at five centres.

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The programme, which is now part of the All India Network Project on Vertebrate Pest Management, works on the role of insectivorous birds in suppressing crop pests along with main objective of monitoring of depredatory birds (in relation to crop and the extent of crop damage) and their management in agricultural landscape.

The centres engaged in the programme are: Telangana State Agricultural University, Telangana, Punjab Agricultural University, Punjab, Anand Agricultural University, Gujarat, Assam Agricultural University, Assam and Kerala Agricultural University, Kerala.

Replying to a question asked by Congress member K C Venugopal and Samajwadi Party member Sanjay Seth in the Rajya Sabha, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar also added that study on breeding and biology of 36 insectivorous and seven raptor species was also being conducted under the project. It was found that the identified birds and their nestlings predominantly feed on insects, including crop pests.

Tomar said 15 per cent of Rs 1.15-crore fund allotted to AINP on vertebrate pest management has been allocated to the programme on role of insectivorous birds in suppressing crop pests.

C K Borad, ornithologist on the faculty of Anand Agricultural University, Gujarat, said that most birds survive on insects and only a handful prefer grain. “Even those which eat grain feed insects to their young ones so that the chicks can have a high protein diet. By eating insects harmful for crops or by gorging of crops ndash; either way birds do not make much impact on the yield”, Borad said.

Borad said that focus of agricultural ornithology should be conservation of birds. “Agricultural fields are habitats for many bird species which are endangered. The rampant use of insecticide by farmers and certain other agricultural practices are threatening the existence of these birds”, he said.

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