Context-Recently released State of India’s Birds 2020 (SoIB) assessment at the 13th CoP to the CMS raises the alarm that several spectacular birds, many of them endemic to the subcontinent, face a growing threat from loss of habitat.

The State of India’s Birds 2020 (SoIB) assessment 


Assessment of data

It was produced using a base of 867 species, and analysed with the help of data uploaded by 15,500 birdwatchers to the online platform, eBird.

Upon this foundation, a large multi-institutional consortium of researchers drawn from both non-governmental and government institutions collaborated to analyse and put together the report.

Current annual trends are calculated over a five year period. 

Report has analysed the health of avifauna based on scientific groupings such as raptors (birds of prey), habitat, diet, migratory status and endemicity. 

The severe long term decline of vultures, recorded and analysed for years now, is underscored by the report. 

Distinctive Features of the report

Information is built from the citizens itself.

The report’s data and analysis are in the public domain, inviting critique and further refinement.


Specific Findings

Common birds:Nearly 80% of drastic loss has been reported in case of several common birds.

Raptors(birds of prey): Overall are in decline, with ‘open country’ species such as the Pallid and Montagu Harriers, Whitebellied Sea Eagle and Rednecked Falcon suffering the most.

Waterbirds:Migratory shorebirds, along with gulls and terns, seem to have declined the most among waterbirds.


  • Rufous­fronted Prinia, Nilgiri Thrush, Nilgiri Pipit and Indian vulture were confirmed as suffering current decline.
  • All except 13 had a restricted or highly restricted range, indicating greater vulnerability to man made threats. 

House sparrows:

  • They are seen to be declining in urban spaces, but have a stable population overall.
  • Data from major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai confirm the view that they have become rare in cities and urban areas.

Indian Peacock: The biggest highlight in the bird population report has been a dramatic jump in the number of the national bird peacock.


Concerns raised by the report

Nearly 80% of the species assessed showing declines over the last five years. 

Acute decline in some species:Birds of prey, migrant shorebirds, birds of forests and grasslands, and endemic birds of the Western Ghats.

More bird species are showing declines in population than are showing population stability or increases.  

Birds that eat invertebrates have declined as a group.

Over a fifth of India’s bird diversity, ranging from the Short­toed Snake Eagle to the Sirkeer Malkoha, has suffered strong long term declines over a 25­ year period.

101 species of high conservation in India:Earlier IUCN classification listing contained 67 globally threatened Indian bird species. The report has added 34 more species to that.





Way ahead

  • Need of follow up actions:Developing conservation action that addresses concerns raised by the report is a  logical follow-up action that is inconceivable without focused and sustained collective efforts.
  • Need of collaboration:Birds perform vital functions like predation and seed dispersal. They pervade nearly every aspect of our cultural lives. There is a greater need to continue building and strengthening models by which citizens, scientists, conservationists and managers collaborate to understand our birds and to enable them to fare better on our fast-changing planet.
  • Need of species specific research:Urgent emphasis on habitats of species of high concern, notably grasslands, scrublands, wetlands and the Western Ghats is necessary.Habitat loss and fragmentation are known causes of species declines, but targeted research is needed to pinpoint causes of decline.

JV’s Prelims Snippets

Nilgiri Pipit


  • The Nilgiri pipit i.e Anthus nilghiriensis is a distinctive species of pipit that is endemic to the high altitude hills of southern India. 
  • Richer brown in colour than other pipits in the region, it is distinctive in having the streaking on the breast continuing along the flanks. 
  • It is non-migratory and has a tendency to fly into low trees when disturbed.
  • According to the recent report this species is currently suffering a decline.


Indian Peacock


  • Species flourished in regions which are neither very dry nor very wet. 
  • According to the report Kerala which has of late seen a “drying trend” has also registered a spike in the numbers. 
  • Ability to expand its range has also helped the species couple with the harsh penalty and punishment under the Wildlife act.
  • Conservation status:
    • IUCN-Least Concern
    • Schedule-I bird under the WPA,1972

Critically Endangered Bird Species of India

1. Great Indian Bustard                     

2. Bengal Florican                   

3. Siberian Crane                    

4. Spoon-billed Sandpiper 

5. Jerdon's Courser 

6.White backed Vulture

7. Red-headed Vulture10.White-bellied Heron  

8. Himalayan Quail

9. Forest Owlet


Also refer to


Image Source-LiveMint, TH