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Friday, July 15, 2011

Some rare birds on trade

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Some reports regarding increasing bird trade in endangered species that were published recently by the local media are matters of concern not alone for environment and wildlife lovers, but for common public as well. The reports mentioned about trade in some endangered, rare or vulnerable species of birds such as Grey Headed Parakeet, Plum Headed Parakeet, Java sparrow, Common Hill Myna etc. Let me introduce these birds to those who are not well familiar with these birds.

Grey-headed Parakeet
This bird is scientifically known as Psittacula finschii. It is closely related to the Slaty- headed Parakeet. These two together form a super species Psittacula finschii which is named after the German naturalist and explorer Otto Finsch.




This bird is found in North-eastern India, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. This bird is recognised by its grey/ green face and dull green colour of its rest of the body, faint pale green band below cheeks and a short tail.

Plum- headed Parakeet
This bird is taxonomically known as Psittacula cyanocephala. It is a green parrot usually up to 33 cm long and a 22cm long tail. Head of the male bird is red; and crown, nape and cheeks are purple blue. A narrow black neck collar and black chin stripe form principal features for identification of the bird. A red patch is found on the shoulders and rump and tail are bluish- green in colour. The tip of the tail is white. Mandibles are yellowish in colour.

The head of the female bird is grey; its upper mandible is corn –yellow in colour. It lacks the black neck collar, chin stripe and red patch of shoulder. Heads of young birds are green in colour with yellowish mandibles.

This bird is endemic to Indian subcontinent. However, it is a resident breeder in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangla Desh. It is a gregarious and noisy species. It is reported that this bird can learn to mimic beeps and whistles though not a good talker. It nests in holes in tree trunks and lays 4 to 6 white coloured eggs.
This bird is usually found in forests and open woodlands. Its population is being reduced gradually due to trade in urban and heavily inhabited areas. Some countries have issued stamps depicting Plum- headed parakeets. These countries are Bhutan, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka.



Java – sparrow
Java- sparrow is a small passerine bird taxonomically known as Padda oryzivora. It is locally known as Java-finch, Java rice sparrow or Java rice bird. Though it is a resident of Java, Bali, Indonesia etc. it has been introduced in a large number of other countries too.

The length of this bird is up to 17 cm. The under parts and breast of an adult bird is grey in colour. Its belly is pink, head is black, cheeks are white, eye ring is red, feet are pink, and bill is red and thick. The bill of this bird is black and bases are pink.

Song of this bird is rapid series of call notes chipchipchipchipchip …It builds nest in a tree or building and lays up to 8 eggs. It feeds on grains and other seeds. It can be frequently seen in open grassland and cultivation.

Habitat loss and large scale hunting are serious threats to this bird. It is this reason that Java sparrow has become uncommon in its native range. The IUCN red list of threatened species has listed it as vulnerable. It has been placed in Appendix II of CITES. In India, it is found as introduced species but it is not a successful resident of Indian mainland. It has established a breeding population around Colombo, Sri Lanka, several of the Hawaiian Islands etc.



Common Hill Myna
A resident of Hill regions of South Asia, and Southeast Asia, Hill Myna is a member of Starling Family which is taxonomically known as Sturnidae.

It is stocky-jet black bird. It has orange- yellow patches on naked skin and fleshy wattles on the side of its head and nape. Its length ranges from 20 to 29 cm. This bird is taxonomically known as Gracula religiosa.
The plumage of this bird is black purple tinged on head and neck. Large white wing patches on wing are obvious in flight but covered when the bird is sitting. Bill and legs are bright yellow. Yellow wattles are found on the nape and under the eyes.

The Hill Myna is a resident breeder from Kumaun division in India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh, the Lower Himalyas, Terrai and foothills up to 200m ASL. It is reported extinct in Bangladesh due to habitat destruction and over exploitation for the pet trade. In Puerto Rico, Hawaii and in the mainland USA it is found as introduced species (Salim Ali and Sidney Dillon Ripley, 1983).




References
·         Birdlife International (2004). Psittacula cyanocephala. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006.
·         Birds of India by Grimmett, Inskipp, ISBN 0-691-04910-6.
·         Finches and sparrows by Clement, Harris and Davis, ISBN 0 – 7136- 8017-2
·     Arnaiz- Villena A , Ruiz- del – Valle V, Gomez Prieto P, Reguera R, Parga- Lozane, C, Serano- Vela Ji( 2009)Estrildinae Finches(Aves, Passiformes) from Africa, South Asia and Australia: Amolecular Phylogeographic Study. Open Ornithology Journal 2, ISSN: 1874- 4532.
Key Words: endangered, rare, vulnerable, Birdlife International, Ornithology, IUCN, Red List, Appendix, Salim Ali

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