Monday, February 25, 2008

Migrant Watch - First Arrival results

Citizen Science initiative tracks arrival of migratory birds

Press Note: 25 Feb 2008

Volunteers from across the country have banded together to contribute information on the timing of bird migration into India. Individual citizens from places scattered as far between as Pattanur in Kerala, Guda Bishnoian in Rajasthan, and Gangtok in Sikkim have been sending information on the dates on which they first observed a specific set of migratory birds arrive into their areas. This effort, called MigrantWatch, is coordinated by Indian Birds journal and the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore. Pooled together, the contributions of more than 150 participants show the arrival of winter migrants from the North, and their spread through the country. Among the findings: Wood Sandpiper, Barn Swallow and Rosy Starling are among the earliest winter migrants to arrive in India (first records in mid-late July), with the first two species spreading quickly south, and Rosy Starling taking considerable time to reach the southern tip of India. Later arrivals into India include Black Redstart (mid August), Greenish Warbler (late August) and Northern Shoveler (early September). This forms valuable baseline information, from which changes in migration timing in coming years can be assessed (such changes are expected to accompany global climate change). These results will be published in the forthcoming issue of Indian Birds journal. A map and a figure illustrating the arrival of Rosy Starlings into India accompany this press note. The entire dataset is available for free download from the MigrantWatch website.

Now the challenge is to record departure dates, as migrant birds return from India to their breeding grounds in the North. For this, volunteers are asked to maintain regular (daily or weekly) records of whether or not they see the nine species. As the weeks pass, it will then be possible to assess the dates of departure of these birds. MigrantWatch is calling for volunteers from any part of the country to participate in this unique and important activity.

Please visit the MigrantWatch website for more information or email MigrantWatch(at)

- Further description of results
- MigrantWatch home page

- This press note plus additional details about MigrantWatch plus high-resolution figures for publication (zip file, 1.6MB).

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