‘Baya’ Birds’ Population Rises In Odisha

Bhubaneswar : The population of chirpy pint-sized baya weaver birds, conferred protected status and listed in schedule IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, has registered an upswing in Odisha, according to a synchronized headcount of these feathered species undertaken by Odisha chapter of the Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN).

As against 14,193 weaver birds spotted last year, 17,228 species were enumerated this year across the State, thus marking an impressive rise in their numbers. Despite cyclone Fani battering the coastal State triggering loss of life and property on May 3 last, the endangered baya weaver birds withstood the calamitous hour and displayed survival instinct. The census findings have brought to the fore this trend much to joy of bird lovers, said IBCN-Odisha coordinator Monalisha Bhujabal.

Three weaver bird species – Baya weaver (common Baya or Indian weaver), streaked weaver and black-breasted weaver (black-throated weaver) were sighted by enumerators. Over the years, these winged species were disappearing fast and its sighting had become rare. It’s indeed a positive development, she said.

The enumeration exercise covered 18 of the 30 districts spread across Odisha. Lack of manpower forced us to skip enumeration exercise in 12 districts, she said.

The weaver birds prefer to nest on large and tall trees like coconut and palm. As there has been decimation of these trees due to cyclonic windstorm, the habitation corridors of baya birds have gone down. The birds used to throng the countryside marked by standing tall trees. The increasing use of pesticides in agriculture fields mainly had spelt doom. These birds steadily perished as grain-feeding birds failed to withstand toxicity. Urbanization and fast disappearing of trees have contributed to the shrinkage of their habitat. Despite nature-induced and man-made hurdles, there has been a rise in their numbers. The government needs to undertake measures for their conservation, she said.

Baya birds permeated into socio-cultural life in Odisha inspiring many folk songs. Their seasonal movements are largely determined by paddy and cereal cultivation which provides nesting materials and food. They also eat insects. The nesting season of this bird is from May to September coinciding with the monsoon and paddy cultivation, she said.

“We are glad to know that IBCN Odisha chapter has conducted a survey and has found increase in the sighting of ‘baya’ birds in Odisha. The forest department does not have any immediate plan regarding conservation plan of these birds”, Ajay Mohapatra, Principal Chief Wildlife Warden,