February 25, 2021

Sálim Ali Bird Count 2020 — Results

Summary: 

The Sálim Ali Bird Count (SABC) is a birding event initiated by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) in 2018 to commemorate the birth anniversary (12 November) of the “Bird Man of India”, late Dr. Sálim Ali (1896–1987). In 2020, the event was celebrated on 5-12 Nov to coincide with Maharashtra’s Pakshi Saptah. Birders across India participated in this event by documenting birds for at least 15 minutes on all days on 5-12 Nov. 

The participation in SABC was so enthusiastic that it rivalled even the Great Backyard Bird Count!  More than 26,000 checklists were uploaded by 2,926 birders on the online platform eBird, recording a total of 855 species. See Sálim-Ali-Bird-Count-report by BNHS.

In the map below, each list contributed to Sálim Ali Bird Count is shown as a translucent circle. Deeper yellow indicates overlapping circles, which signal more lists from that location. When compared to the coverage map of GBBC 2020, birding was more spread in regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, and coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh.

SABC 2020 Coverage Map

The top four states in terms of checklists uploaded were Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. Bangalore alone uploaded 616 checklists — the highest for a single district!

The state and district-level coverage of SABC 2020 based on checklists are shown below. To view the summary (number of checklists, participants, species), please click on a state/ district in these zoomable maps.

Total Checklists uploaded by states


Total Checklists uploaded by districts

What are the most common species in India?

The map below shows the top 5 most common species in terms of their frequency of reporting, in seven broad regions in India.

Here are some comparisons between the most common species reported in February (GBBC) and November (SABC).

Just like the GBBC, during SABC the top 5 most common species were analysed based on the frequency of their reporting. Here are some interesting findings:

  • The Common Myna which was in the top 5 species in all regions except the west during GBBC, was absent from the top 5 in three out of the seven regions.
  • Black Kites are known to show some local migration. Could this be the reason why in the north, the reporting frequency of Black Kite dropped from 78% in February to 58 % in November?
  • White-throated Kingfisher  was not in the top 5 common species during the February count (GBBC) but was present in three out seven regions during November.

Highlights for Sálim Ali Bird Count 2020

Of the 855 species, birders also documented an incredible diversity of nocturnal species – almost 20 species of owls (including Oriental Bay Owl), 6 species of nightjars, and 1 frogmouth!



While Cheer Pheasant, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Himalayan Owl were recorded from North and Himalayas, Daurian Starling, Legge’s Hawk-Eagle, Kashmir Flycatcher were reported from the South.


Endangered species like Indian Skimmer and Black-bellied Tern were also seen during this count.

Some incredible birds like Parrotbills and range-restricted Wren-Babblers were reported from Arunachal Pradesh.

A few more interesting sightings include Northern Goshawk from Kashmir,  Indian Grassbird from Uttarakhand, Brown-rumped Minivet from Assam,  Little Crake from Rajasthan, White-naped Tit from Gujarat.

What Next?

Sálim Ali Bird Count will be back on 5-12 November 2021.

In the meantime, keep eBirding

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Header Image: Kashmir Flycatcher Ficedula subrubra by Rajinikanth Kasthuri/ Macaulay Library

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