Spot the birds flying in to Bangalore

It was 7:30 AM on June 1st, when Anush Shetty spotted a Pied Cuckoo at the Valley School campus on Kanakapura road, just perched by the trail. The Pied Cuckoo is associated with monsoon in India, flying from Africa across the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean every year around June. Shetty has also spotted other migratory birds such as Ashy Drongo and Verditer Flycatcher at Lalbagh and Valley school campuses in the last few months.

Shetty, an engineer working at a startup firm near South End circle (Jayanagar), is part of a volunteer team or citizen scientists, taking part in MigrantWatch. MigrantWatch is a project that looks at the timings of bird migration in India and the effects of climate change on it. Based at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, GKVK, Bellary Road, the project has over 800 volunteer watchers documenting 195 migrant species, landing, living and leaving India, in the past two years.

Garima Bhatia, a chemical engineer and avid birdwatcher, finds bird watching an addictive hobby. She spotted a big flock of Chestnut Tailed Starlings from her balcony, overlooking the John Fowler compound in Koramangala, as well as Ashy Dongo, Greenish Warbler, and Verditer Flycatcher elsewhere in the city.

Since the start of the migration season this year (July 2009), 12 first sightings have been reported from Bangalore of species including the Wood Sandpiper, Western Marsh Harrier, Grey Wagtail, Greenish Warbler, Green Sandpiper and the Common Sandpiper from locations such as Nandi Hills, IISC campus, Gulakmale tank, Hebbal tank and Puttenahalli lake.

Significant changes in migratory patterns have been documented for many bird species in various parts of the world and these have often been attributed to climate change. Documenting and understanding such changes is important because these may have significant implications for the survival of migratory species. Unfortunately, hardly any detailed information is available on the timing of bird migration in India, and how this might be changing.

Information collected in MigrantWatch will add to the global understanding of the effects of climate change on phenology (study of the timing of natural events).

You can contribute too

Citizen Science projects are entirely dependent on volunteers. Because the information is contributed by the public, the data and results of MigrantWatch are accessible to all participants and anyone who wishes to see or use this information.

The MigrantWatch project creates opportunities for weekend/holiday fun and recreation, yet at the same time encourages you to contribute valuable information.

The project combines efforts made by both experts and ordinary citizens into a project of global importance.  You can contribute to authentic science at the global level, in addition to serving as a nature activity or a local conservation effort.

Whether you are a student or a homemaker, a techie or a senior citizen, all you need to participate in MigrantWatch, is to just keep a regular watch for one or more migratory species in places where you live, work, or visit regularly, and note the dates of first and last sighting during the migration season (that started from July/August).


How to participate

A list of birds and identification guidelines are given online at the MigrantWatch website.

Send us a email (at, or upload the following details of your sighting on our website (

  • ABOUT YOU: Name of person who sighted the bird
  • ABOUT YOUR LOCATION: Full Address of Location, Latitude & Longitude if possible; General notes about this location (e.g., habitat); When did you start looking for birds at this location? How often do you look for birds at this location: Daily/Weekly /Fortnightly/Monthly/Irregularly:
  • ABOUT THE SIGHTING: Species; First Sighting Date; Number; Accuracy of count: (Exact or Approximate); Other notes

You can also mail us at our postal address:

MigrantWatch, Citizen Science Programme, National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), GKVK, Bellary Road, Bangalore 560065 

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  1. Great article about a great initiative. It’s refreshing to see attention paid to an offbeat issue in an otherwise largely crazy world.

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