Mysore city bird atlas — a pioneering effort! 5


Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) breeding distribution, from the 2008-2011 British Bird Atlas.

When assessing the status and distribution of birds across a given region (eg, a city, district or even an entire country), one very useful approach is to construct a bird atlas. In such an atlas, relevant information (eg species occurrence and abundance, and number of species) is collected in the field, and this information is often represented as a map onto which a regular grid has been overlaid (as shown to the right).

An atlas may use existing information on bird sightings, then overlay a grid, and look at which species were found in which grid cell. This is an excellent start, but one drawback is that grid cells may vary in their coverage, and so one doesn’t know whether regions with a small species list actually contain few species or whether less effort spent birding resulted in fewer species being seen. (Two previous atlases from India are of this nature, see note at bottom.)

But with advance planning, one can lay a grid and fix a birding protocol, and ensure that subsequently all grid cells are visited with equal frequency, and birds looked for in the same way.

To our knowledge there is no such planned and systematic atlas of birds for any region of this country… until now!


Green Bee-eater occurrence in Feb and June 2014, from the Mysore City Bird Atlas.

Mysore Nature, a group of enthusiastic birders and naturalists, has embarked on a path-breaking project to document the distribution and abundance of birds in and immediately around Mysore city. So far, they have conducted two repetitions of the atlas survey, in Feb and June 2014.

You can see some of the results of their efforts at this page, which describes how the atlas surveys were carried out, and provides interactive maps to explore some of the findings. This is still a work in progress, but Mysore birders have made a tremendous start. Please join us in congratulating them!

Note: Two previous bird atlases from India are the pathbreaking Atlas of the Birds of Delhi and Haryana (2006) by Bill Harvey, Nikhil Devasar and Bikram Grewal; and those included in A Birder’s Handbook to Manipal (2013) by Ramit Singal.

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