Bhubaneswar ,17th July 2018 (By Prasant Kumar Bhuyan) The Odisha Chapter [IBCN Odisha] of Indian Bird Conservation Network, headed by Wild Orissa, involved organisations and volunteers in various parts of Odisha to count 11676 (eleven thousands six and seventy six) birds from weavers family in the state of Odisha during June 2018.This figure is an all time record for the state of Odisha for weaver birds since this annual all India excercise which started a few years ago. 9000 birds were counted in 2016 weaver census in Odisha, which was conducted by Odisha Chapter of IBCN.Selected sites located in districts of Khurda, Cuttack, Nayagarh, Ganjam, Mayurbhanj, Kendrapara, Keonjhar, Nayagarh, Dhenkanal and Puri were visited by volunteers for counting weaver birds.Odisha is home to three species of weaver birds or bayas: Baya Weaver (Common Baya or Indian Weaver), Streaked Weaver and Black-breasted Weaver (or Black-throated Weaver). The count exercise is helpfulto ascertain the current status of weavers in the country. Weavers are highly gregarious, sparrow sized and popularly known for excellent nest-weaving skills, and have been residents of India since long. Among three species of weaver birds or bayas in Odisha, the‘Indian’ Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus is one of the most familiar and common birds in the country. These birds seem to be facing population decline due to the growing human population and development. All Indian weaver bird species are protected and listed in Schedule IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Weaver birds were once common all across India, however most of the country is witnessing a slow population decline with the increasing loss and modification of the grasslands into human-dominated landscape like agriculture farms, orchards, factories, canals, roads, and rapid increase in human population. There is an urgent need to monitor this once common species so as to gather information on their population in India. The census figures will help in devising strategies and inputs for policy formulation which may answer the reasons for fall in numbers of weaver birds. There is an urgent need to provide safe habitat for weaver birds and also ensure their conservation.Wild Orissa, Sri Sri Mahavir Pakshi Surakshya Samiti (Mangalajodi), Blackbuck Conservation Society (Bhetnoi), Sri Sri Baba Muktesar Deva Pakshi Surakshya Samiti (Sundarpur) and a host of volunteers participated in the counting exercise in 10 (ten) districts in Odisha. Eminent wildlife conservationist Shri Nanda Kishore Bhujabal from Wild Orissa coordinated the counting in districts of Nayagarh, Ganjam and Khurda. Shri Sulabha Sethi from Wild Orissa coordinated for Kendrapada, Dhenkanal, Cuttack, Jajpur districts in Odisha.Weaver nests were found on palm, date palm, banyan, etc, trees during the census.During the census 852 nests of weavers were also counted. The maximum number of nests are from Baya Weaver. It was observed that due to late rains in the state of Odisha, nest building activity by weavers was also late.The important findings from the month long census are:Urban and semi-urban areas in Odisha, like Bhubaneswar and surrounding areas, are becoming devoid of weavers
- Rural and areas where much development has not taken place still have good number of weavers
- Excavation of fish ponds in Chilka Lake is adversely affecting weaver nesting
- Loss of palm and date palm trees is a serious concern, as they the most favoured for Baya Weavers The findings from Odisha will be communicated to the Government of Odisha, Government of India, Bombay Natural History Society, Birdlife International.