The Indian Himalayas are critical habitats for a variety of bird species, including ground-nesting birds such as the ibisbill. These birds construct their nests on the ground, typically near water sources such as rivers or streams.
The changing climatic patterns in the Indian Himalayas can have a significant impact on the ibisbill and other ground-nesting bird populations. For example, increasing temperatures can cause the timing of snowmelt and the availability of water to shift, which can affect the timing of breeding and chick-rearing for these birds.
Changes in precipitation patterns can also affect the availability of food sources for these birds, which can impact their ability to successfully raise young.
Threats to species in Kashmir
The study published in 2022 has identified several threats to the species in six sites along the high-altitude Sindh River in Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir. Sand and boulder mining were found to be the most prevalent disturbance, accounting for 38% of the disturbances observed.
Human presence was the second most common disturbance, accounting for 37% of the disturbances. Livestock grazing accounted for 12% of the disturbances, while disturbances caused by birds such as black kites, jackdaws, and yellow-billed blue magpies accounted for 4% of the total disturbances observed.
The study also found that the level of disturbances varied across the different sites, with Kijpora experiencing the highest level of disturbances (2.61 disturbances per hour) and Sonamarg experiencing the least amount of disturbances (0.29 disturbances per hour).
The disturbances at Kijpora were mostly caused by human activities such as mining, fishing, and tourism.
These findings highlight the various human activities that can impact the species and their habitat, particularly sand and boulder mining, human presence, and livestock grazing. These disturbances can have significant impacts on the survival and reproduction of the species.
The study emphasizes the need for conservation measures and management practices that can reduce the impact of these disturbances and protect the species and their habitat.
Ibisbill bird species
The ibisbill is a bird species found in the Kashmir Himalayas, with a range that extends from eastern Kazakhstan to northeast China, Tibet, and northern parts of the Indian subcontinent.
According to research conducted by Iqram ul Haq, the lead author of a study on the ibisbill in the Kashmir Himalayas, the bird is sparsely distributed along the Sindh river in India, occupying shingle river bed areas with small pebbles, cobbles, boulders, and moderate water flow.
The ibisbill was sighted at several sites along the Sindh river, including Wayul, Wussan, Kijpora, Sonmarg, Nilgrath, and Baltal.
During the non-breeding season, group size is primarily two to five individuals, except for autumn when the bird shows altitudinal movement and a group of 28 individuals were sighted together, which is the highest number recorded to date. Outside Sindh, the ibisbill was also found in Lidder and Kishanganga rivers with few sightings.
During the non-breeding season, group size is primarily two to five individuals, except for autumn when the bird shows altitudinal movement and a group of 28 individuals were sighted together, which is the highest number recorded to date.
“The ibisbill is also found in Lidder and Kishanganga rivers with few sightings outside Sindh” Mongabay India reported.
Climate change and ibisbill birds
Climate change is a significant threat to the habitat and survival of many bird species, including the ibisbill in India. Rising temperatures and changing weather patterns can affect the availability of food, breeding and nesting sites, and water quality, which are all critical for the survival of the ibisbill.
Dr. Asad Rahmani, a renowned ornithologist and former Director of the Bombay Natural History Society, “climate change is a real and growing threat to the ibisbill and other bird species in India”.
He added, “the bird’s habitat, which includes shingle river beds and fast-flowing rivers and streams, is highly sensitive to changes in water levels, temperature, and weather patterns. Changes in the timing of monsoons and snowmelt, as well as alterations in rainfall patterns and intensity, can have profound effects on the availability and quality of habitat for the ibisbill and other bird species.”
Dr. Rahmani warns that the decline of the ibisbill and other bird species due to climate change could have far-reaching consequences for India’s ecosystems and biodiversity. Birds play critical roles in pollination, seed dispersal, and pest control, which are essential for the functioning of ecosystems and the provision of ecosystem services to humans.
Importance of ibisbill birds for climate
The Ibisbill bird is a small, unique bird species found in the Himalayan region. While the bird may not seem to have a direct impact on the climate, it does play an important role in the ecosystem, which can indirectly impact the climate.
- Indicators of environmental health: Birds like the Ibisbill are often used as indicators of environmental health. The presence, absence, or abundance of the bird can provide information on the overall health and functioning of the ecosystem. A healthy ecosystem can contribute to climate regulation by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and producing oxygen. Thus, the presence of the Ibisbill in its habitat can indicate that the ecosystem is healthy, which can indirectly contribute to climate regulation.
- Insect control: The Ibisbill feeds on insects and other small invertebrates, which can help to control their populations. This can prevent insect outbreaks, which can have a negative impact on plant growth and contribute to climate change. By controlling insect populations, the Ibisbill indirectly contributes to maintaining a healthy ecosystem, which in turn helps to regulate the climate.
- Nutrient cycling: Birds like the Ibisbill can help to cycle nutrients throughout the ecosystem by consuming and excreting organic matter. This can help to maintain soil fertility and promote plant growth, which can contribute to climate regulation. Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produce oxygen, which helps to regulate the climate.
- Seed dispersal: Many bird species, including the Ibisbill, help to disperse seeds of plants throughout their habitat. This helps to maintain and enhance biodiversity in the ecosystem, which can contribute to climate regulation. Biodiversity is important for the health of the ecosystem as it allows for the absorption of carbon dioxide and the production of oxygen.
- Madhya Pradesh Sindh River: Is Sand Mining Killing Our Rivers?
- How retreat of Machoi glacier impacting lives in Kashmir?
- Walking in the shadow of Madhya Pradesh’s devastating floods
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