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Himachal Forest Dept participates in Great Backyard Bird Count 2017
Himachal Pradesh Forest Department participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GGBC) 2017. This is an event that engages bird watchers from the general public in counting birds.

The event runs for 4 days every February and Indian birders have participated in GBBC since 2013. The GBBC-India is coordinated by the Bird count India partnership, a coming-together of number of Indian groups and organization that are interested in birds, nature and conservation.

Participation in GBBC is open to all. It is simple and involves birding for at least 15 minutes, listing and counting all the species during the GBBC days. During 2017 event occurred from 17th to 20th February. The birds listed are then uploaded to eBird (www.ebird.org), an internet-based platform for recording and maintaining bird sighting data, based at the Cornell University's Laboratory of Ornithology.

The annual snapshots of birds populations obtained during GBBC help scientists in answering a number of questions such as how birds are distributed across the country, how they are affected by habitat changes and whether population and distribution are changing. And most importantly, it engages and allows the general public to collect scientific data useful for nature conservation, the reason why this event is termed as a Citizen-science initiative.

In 2017, the Wildlife Wing, Himachal Pradesh Forest Department took a pioneering initiative to participate in the GBBC. The participation was carried out as a volunteers exercise and staffs of Wildlife Wing along with few volunteers were identified to contribute bird lists during February 17-20, 2017. S. K. Sharma, PCCF Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden spearheaded this initiative. Lakshminarasimha R, zoo Biologist and Santosh Thakur, Wildlife Guard coordinated the entire exercise by collating and analyzing the data.

564 bird species are reported from Himachal Pradesh as per data obtained from ebird, which is nearly 45% of the 1263 species found in India. Till date, 2833 bird check lists have been uploaded to eBird from all districts of Himachal Pradesh, with highest number of species (453 bird species) reported from Kangra district.

During four days of GBBC-2017, 319 species were reported from across 8 districts in Himachal Pradesh. 83 bird check lists were uploaded to eBird and over 16000 birds were counted. The data was contributed by nearly 50 bird watchers including staff of the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department and volunteers. A detailed report is in preparation and will be published shortly.

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