Wildlife & Biodiversity

Rare Long-Billed Plover bird sighted in Odisha’s Bhitarkanika national park

Sighting of this rare migratory bird during the annual bird census is baffling wildlife officials and ornithologists

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Wednesday 09 January 2019

Forest officials and ornithologists recently sighted a rare Long-Billed Plover (Charadrius placidus) bird at Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district, Odisha during the annual bird census. Noted ornithologist and deputy director of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) S Balachandran confirmed the sighting.

Long-Billed Plover is a species of bird in the Charadriidae family. It’s an East Asian bird, distributed across Ussuri in southeastern Siberia, Russia, through North Korea and Japan to central China. 

This species has breeding populations in central China, southeastern Siberia, northeastern China and North Korea. It was first sighted in Bhitarkanika during the avian census on Sunday. 

Two young ornithologists Saswat Pati and his younger brother Sourava Pati clicked a photo of this rare bird within the park on January 6, 2019, says Balachandran.

The Long-Billed Plover species are usually found on riverine beds below the town of Rupa, Arunachal Pradesh. It has also been sighted in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.  

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorised and evaluated Long-Billed Plover, and has listed them under the category of "least concern".

Habitat loss due to agricultural activities and urbanisation, including hunting, poaching and collision with wires has caused a great decline in the species numbers, says Balachandran.

This rare bird feeds on seeds, leaves and grass weeds, as well as sedges, aquatic vegetation, crop seeds such as rice and soya and corn. It also consumes small aquatic invertebrates like snails and insects, adds Balachandran.

Bhitarkanika is home to around 269 species of birds, including 98 species of migratory birds. But the sighting of a rare migratory bird is baffling wildlife officials and ornithologists.

In 1981, noted ornithologist Salim Ali had visited Bhitarkanika. Overwhelmed by its beauty and the heronry within the park, he had suggested that the government declare it as a ‘biosphere zone’ to protect the serene environment, its wildlife and the many avian species.

The proposal is yet to be implemented, says Sudhansu Parida, an environmentalist and secretary of the district unit of People for Animal.

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