Picture courtesy Sangay Wangchuk, UWICE

Long-term monitoring to study birds in Bhutan

As part of wildlife management curriculum of the certificate course offered at the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) in Bumthang, they have, since August 22 this year, begun a program which they are engaged in long- term monitoring of birds.

Such innovative venture of long- term bird monitoring was led by two ornithologists in the institute. As a start, two different groups were designated in different netting sites in courtyard of the office complex.

According to Sherub of UWICE, three mist-net lines were laid within the research preserve of the institute. He said, “The mist-net lines cover different habitats such as blue pine forest, stream ravine and wetland,” adding that mist netting exercise will continue and will happen every third week of month. “This would be one of the best ways to learn and teach birds.”

The institute, through mist-netting exercise, is attempting to learn, as well as, document bird diversity and how they change with season. In addition, bird community and composition, breeding biology, and age structure will also be documented. Every bird that they capture during the exercise will be monitored for their body mass, and a morphometric data will be recorded and feed into a database which is being managed and maintained by the institute.

Rinchen Singye, another researcher involved said in future, the exercise will extend further and monitoring of birds using mist nets will be performed in selected localities in the country in collaboration with relevant agencies and institutions. “School going children in the Chamkhar valley will be invited for this activity, and gradually expand to other schools through our out-reach program for bird education,” said Rinchen Singye.

Rinchen Singye had earlier been trained in the United States for three months to use mist net to monitor birds in 2011. Similarly, Sherub has mist netting expertise from the ornithologists at The Field Museum, Chicago, USA.

During their mist netting of birds for three consecutive mornings, beginning from 23 to 26 August this year, the team has first mist-netted at the stream net line, a sub adult Myophonus caeruleus (Blue Whistling Thrush). The blue pine mist net has a female Turdus albocinctus (White-collared Blackbird).

The team also encountered an Oriental Turtle Dove in the blue pine net line in the blue pine habitat and was found weighing from 250 and 262 grams.

The captured birds were assigned individual identity tags using locally available materials such as plastic color bands made from electric and television cables.

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