Two more species added to Sikkim checklist of birds

Two more species added to Sikkim checklist of birds

A group of researchers has added two species of migratory birds in Sikkim expanding checklist. The new species such as Brown-headed Gull and Ferruginous Duck was first time encountered from High altitude wetlands of East Sikkim, Indian Himalaya. A team of researcher cum scientist, Mr. Prem Kumar Chhetri (Sikkim Forest & Environment Department), Kusal Gurung (Deputy Director, Rongli Sub-Division, East Sikkim), Thinlay Namgyal Lepcha (Assistant Director, HRDD, Govt. of Sikkim), and Mr. Bijoy Chhetri (Assistant Professor, SRM-University), has recently published their findings in the Journal of Threatened Taxa.

The species encountered from the High altitude wetland of East Sikkim at altitude 4,237m m asl. So far many wetland migratory birds are reported from Sikkim Himalaya viz.: Osprey Pandion haliaetus (Linnaeus, 1758), Little Grebe Podiceps ruficollis (Pallas, 1764), Common Coot Fulica atra (Linnaeus, 1758), Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus (Latham, 1790), Northern Pintail Anas acuta (Linnaeus, 1758), Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (Linnaeus, 1758), Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri (Radde, 1863), Tufted Duck  Aythya ferina (Linnaeus, 1758) Pallas’s Gull Larus ichthyaetus (Pallas, 1773) Common Pochard Aythya ferina (Linnaeus, 1758), Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax  carbo (Linnaeus, 1758); Goosander Mergus merganser (Linnaeus, 1758), and Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis (Brehm, 1831).

According to the author's many migratory birds have been recorded from the Sikkim Himalaya indicating that the Sikkim HAWs offer potential suitable breeding and winter grounds. Brown-headed Gull and Ferruginous Duck first reported from the high altitude wetlands is a new record to the state. Worldwide, most migratory birds are threatened by wetland habitat loss on their breeding and winter grounds.

Appreciating the importance of globally threatened birds found in the Eastern Himalaya, 11 Important Birds Area or IBAs across the Sikkim Himalaya have been recognized by the government of Sikkim in 2003 for the conservation initiative. Such actions will help to conserve the high altitude wetlands of Sikkim Himalaya and migrating birds as well.

By Prem Baniya Chettri

                                                                            Pic credit: Kushal Gurung