4 rare bird species recorded in Karbi Anglong

GUWAHATI, Feb 21 – In an exciting discovery that testifies to the State’s rich avifauna, distribution of four birds – species one of them probably occurring for the first time in the State – has been recorded from the forests of Karbi Anglong district.

The avian species are the Asian glossy starling (Aplonis panayensis), laced woodpecker (Picus vittatus), mountain hawk-eagle (Nisaetus nipalensis) and grey peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron bicalcaratum).

The birds were recorded in the Dhansiri reserve forest of Karbi Anglong by a team of field biologists led by Bhrigu Prasad Saikia of Gauhati University this month.

“This probably marks the first time that the Asian glossy starling has been recorded in Assam. It was a big flock of 17 birds and we were able to take photographic evidence. Along with this species, new distribution ranges of three more birds – the laced woodpecker, mountain hawk-eagle and grey peacock-pheasant – were also documented,” Saikia told The Assam Tribune.

The habitat where the birds were located forms a contiguous belt with the Intanki Elephant Reserve of the neighbouring State of Nagaland.

Saikia said that the laced woodpecker, mountain hawk-eagle and grey peacock-pheasant were not previously recorded in Karbi Anglong.

Unfortunately, the entire avian community in Karbi Anglong – which falls in the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot — is under severe threat from hunting.

“Large-scale killing of birds using both traditional and modern methods is a big threat to their existence. Conservation of these birds needs urgent attention from all concerned,” Saikia said, adding that generating awareness among the local populace on the need for conservation would be critical to saving the birds which have a significant role in maintaining the ecosystem.

The study was done under the guidance of Abhijit Rabha, Chief Conservator of Forest, Karbi Anglong.

The Asian glossy starling is a species of starling in the Sturnidae family. It is found in Bangladesh, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical mangrove forests.

The laced woodpecker falls under the Picidae family. It is found in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and perhaps Bangladesh. Its natural habitat includes subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical mangrove forests, and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.

The mountain hawk-eagle of the family Accipitridae breeds in southern Asia from Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka to China, Taiwan and Japan.

The common grey peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron bicalcaratum) – also known as the Burmese peacock — is a large South East Asian member of the order Galliformes. The grey peacock-pheasant is distributed in lowland and hill forests of mainland South East Asia, but excluding most of Indo-China as well as the entire Malayan peninsula. Widespread throughout its large range, the grey peacock-pheasant is evaluated as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on CITES-Appendix II, restricting trade in wild-caught birds to preserve its stocks.