Introduction to Bird Watching and Ornithology
Why study about birds?
Birds are two legged animals like us.
BIRDS are Winged bipeds ( bi-Two ; ped –leg)
Birds are one among of the most beautiful of all animals.
They live in all places on earth and are very near to us.
The melodious songs of Cookoo, Coel, Nightingale and other song birds wake us up in the mornings.
They chirp around us both in the morning and in the evening.
Some birds build nest in our homes to raise their young ones.
Birds have been observed by people from time immemorial. Every known language, region and countries have specific names given to different birds. There are a number of literatures dealing with the behaviour of birds. Great writers in all languages have used them in their poetries, Dramas and stories. Several birds have earned prominent status in world Mythology.
Birds have become a part of our lives and help us in many ways.
It is very hard to think of a world without birds.
Bird watching and ornithology has become great hobby today, for all age groups.
Those who collect stamps and organise them as philatelic theme on bird stamps lead them to the natural world and gives them happiness, and a chance to participate in State, National, and International level Philatelic Exhibitions.
In philately one can classify the bids in many ways; such as family of birds, species, water birds (aquatic)., Wading birds, diving birds, flightless birds etc.
Birds are animals that live freely everywhere in the world. Birds do not require Passport or Visa to go from one country to another or from one place to another.
Where ever there is oxygen (Air) , water and their food, AVIAN FAUNA (BIRD LIFE) can be found. Thus you find birds in the Coldest Arctic and Antarctic region as well as super hot Sahara Desert region.
Besides all these, WATCHING BIRDS, by itself gives us a great pleasure. The study of birds, their behaviour, habits, habitats, breeding etc., is known as ORNITHOLOGY.
Why WATCH BIRDS? Why can’t we KEEP THEM as PETS?
The answer is very simple. It is ILLEGAL to keep birds under captivity in India or for that matter anywhere else without licence or permission from the concerned authorities. Unless the caged animal live in a healthy atmosphere, one is liable to be prosecuted.
INDIAN LAWS and YOU
What you should know
Birds are covered under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) 1972 making it illegal to catch, keep, kill, buy / sell birds or damage their nests.
All indigenous bird species are covered under this Act.
Trade in foreign birds is restricted by CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species).
There is an international protocol to which India is a signatory which assures full protection to all migratory species, making it illegal to trap, capture, keep, kill or trade these birds.
Parrots are not indigenous to India. The green birds that we mistakenly refer to as parrots are actually parakeets. It is illegal to keep them in cages. SO CALLED FORTUNE TELLERS OFTEN USE THESE BIRDS. The punishment is a fine and up to 5 years in jail.
It is illegal to keep any bird in captivity, with the, only exception being lovebirds and blue rock pigeons.
It is illegal to farm or keep peacocks. Areas that have natural populations of these birds may not enclose or attempt to confine them.
Pheasants, jungle fowl and partridges (teetar) are protected under the WPA. It is illegal to hunt, kill, buy, sell, eat or serve them.
It is illegal to colour birds (as is done by bird sellers to make them look more attractive) as the chemical colour is toxic and possibly carcinogenic.
It is illegal to cut the feathers of birds as this amounts to maiming them which is a cognisable offence under IPC Section 428/429.
Cock fighting is a cognisable offence under PCA. Therefore rearing and training birds to fight is similarly illegal.
It is illegal to keep or train falcons and hawks. Since it is illegal to buy or keep birds, it is illegal to organise bird release ceremonies to mark occasions where the birds have been procured by sale.
It is illegal to show caged birds in advertisements, ,movies or TV serials.
Offering for sale or possessing any animal which is suffering from mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or other ill treatment. This makes it illegal to over-breed dogs or keep pups for sale in poor conditions.
Maiming or injuring an animal in any way. Any surgical or invasive procedure without anaesthesia on birds or other animals is an offence. This would include ear or tail docking. It is a cognisable offence under Section 428/429 of the Indian Penal Code. The penalty is a fine and up to 5 years in jail.
Placing an animal in circumstances that are likely to endanger its life and cause its death from starvation or thirst. This means abandoning an animal in unfamiliar territory or in sickness or old age is illegal. Penalty is a fine of RS 100/- and up to 3 months in jail.
Failure to provide proper shelter to birds under one’s care is a cognizable offence. This means failure to provide protection from the external environment e.g. leaving a dog out in the rain or cold, or no access to food .
HOW DO BIRDS HELP US?
Birds have been helping and living with us ever since the dawn of human civilization.
Domestis cocks crow as “Cockadoodledoo” and “Cocka-doodle-doo”. People in villages still keep Cocks and hens for their daily supply of Eggs. People in towns and cities have got used to buying eggs from shops.
Birds help us in eating away insects that are harmful to plants and human being(Us)
We human beings take away their young ones when they are still eggs and eat them.
We human beings eat some of the birds such as Domestic Fowls (Hen, Cock), Ducks, Turkey and even birds in the wild.
Birds are wonderful pets.
Some birds like parakeets and hill-myna can imitate our voice and can talk the words that are taught to them.
Pigeons are used to send messages and mails.
Many commercial establishments have come up now as Poultry, rearing Domestic fowls , Ducks, Guinea fowls and even ostrich.
Authorised shops can sell you bird pets such as Love-birds (Budgerigars) Parrots/parakeets.macaus , Munias etc.
Article by Mr. R Venkata Ramanan. Chennai based educational consultant. See linkedIn profile.
R Venkata Ramanan
Padmini V Ramanan Educational Resource Centre
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