This story which appeared in Bhutan’s national newspaper Kuensel reports that Bhutan has recorded 21 new additional species, adding to its high floral and faunal diversity, according to officials of the nature conservation division.
With the additional species, the country has now recorded a total of 677 types of birds as of April 25, 2008.
The recent additional species, brahminy starling (Sturnus pagodarum), was spotted by a group of 12 birders along the Pho Chhu in Punakha on March 25 this year. “We thought it might be the common Myna but, as we looked closer, we confirmed it was an adult brahminy starling,” said Rinchen Drakpa, a forest official at the Thrumshingla national park in Bumthang, who had accompanied the group to Punakha.
The brahminy starling, recorded only in eastern Afghanistan, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka and now in Bhutan, has a black crest, rufous-orange head, yellow bill and legs and gray breast.
“One of the reasons why additional bird species are being noticed is because more and more people seem interested in bird watching and learning about birds,” said forest officials at the NCD. Sherub, who contributed 16 new birds for the record, said that some of these birds might also be vagrants exploring new places.
However, of the species recorded in the country, NCD officials said that 24 species of birds have been globally recognized as threatened. One of the critically endangered species is the white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis). Its population has declined by more than 80 percent in the last ten years.
Bhutan is also a home to one of the most endangered and rarest bird species in the world, the white-bellied heron (Ardea insignis) according to the royal society for the protection of nature (RSPN). “Its population level has reached almost 2,500 and a decline of 50 percent in the population was noticed over the last ten years,” said forest officer Sherub.
Birds are an important link in the ecology and losing them would mean losing an important link that would indirectly affect us, according to an ecologist with RSPN, Rebecca Pradhan.
She said that the swimming pool area used to be a good habitat for wood snipes (Gallinago nemoricola), a species globally considered as vulnerable. However, with the construction and development in the area, these birds are not seen anymore.
Bhutan is also home to other rare and globally endangered species like the rufous-necked hornbill (Aceros nipalensis), beautiful nuthatch (Sitta formosa), chestnut-breasted partridge (Aborophila mandellii), white-bellied heron (Ardea insignis) and the well-known black-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis).
Some of the recent additional birds for the country are the spectacled finch (Allacanthis burtoni), pacific golden plover (Pluvialis fulva), blue pitta (Pitta cynea) and ashy prinia (Prinia cocialis).