FOGSL has continuously been conducting awareness programmes on birds to the general public through exhibitions and monthly programmes. It introduced a new programme last year “BirdLife Asia Partnership Bird Fair’ which coincided with the Asia Council Meeting of the Birdlife International being held in Sri Lanka. FOGSL is also the affiliate in the country to BirdLife International. The Bird Fair being a success, FOGSL is to continue it as an annual event.
This year FOGSL is to conduct the Bird Fair with a more local touch by naming it the ‘Kurulu Kaiya’; scheduled for the 16th and 17th of December at the Thalawathugoda ‘Diyasaru Uyana’ wetland park. The Bird Fair is a multi-tasked event in promoting bird awareness to the public as a recreational pastime through birdwatching and to the academia through study groupings and discussions on avifauna and wildlife research. On the economic side it promotes trade and industry in birdwatching optics, books, guides and photographic equipment used in the industry. This is more in appreciation of the generous sponsorship that these institutions extend in return as funding to the various other programmes related to conservation of birds and wildlife.
Birds do play a very silent amusement in all of us though not felt and realized directly. From the time a child is shown his / her first flying bird by the mother, a liking towards it is developed as it is the only creature that adopts flight as a means to go places during the day apart from a butterfly which are unique to the child’s world. Almost all other creatures that a child encounters at early age is terrestrial. It is almost through instinct from then on that the he / she realizes that there are birds of different colors and shapes and also they sound different in vocalization. This liking towards birds develop with age and there is a form of distinct identification that is registered in the mind which we generally recognize as common birds. The term common birds in this case do qualify both to the general bird species that occur almost in all habitats and locations while it also apply to the general identification character of color and shape of a species registered in our minds.
The common ones found in almost all locations and habitats generally are the Crow, the Bulbul or Konda Kurulla and the Spotted-dove. They have been included into our folklore; in children’s storybooks and even in our ancient ‘Jathaka Stories'.
Apart from the named common birds arounds us there is a special adoption within our minds that involve our senses that define bird species through shape and color that only a very few seem to pursue further in our lives. Birdwatching is based on the extended analysis of this sensual categorization that takes place in our minds. As an example a bird with a colorful green plumage and a closely curved red or yellow beak is grouped in our thinking as a parrot. Likewise a white bird with long tall legs and long snaky neck and spear like beak are grouped in our minds as cranes or storks. All human minds go as far as this in relation to bird identification almost through instinct and from the early picture books that we are introduced to. But it is only in a very few people that the feeling to go look at birds beyond this point is triggered naturally. The science of birdwatching comes to play from this point onward and this is what FOGSL and all other such organizations related with birds extend as a service to those interested to study them further.
Sri Lanka has four species of Parakeets and just one parrot; the endemic Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot. So it was a myth to say we have parrots in this land. We have seven species of Kingfishers, ten species of Owls, fifteen species of Cuckoos, eight species of Woodpeckers that account to around 347 breeding and regular migrant species that are found year round in an area of 65,600 square miles. This number is enhanced by a further 150 species listed as vagrant or with uncertain presence where they have not been occurring as regulars. Sri Lanka therefore is unique in its avian fauna when compared with the North American land mass of 9.45 million square miles and only the home for 914 species of birds. There is scientific reason for this.
This then should be something very special to the child who knew his birds through the picture book of parrots, kingfishers, woodpeckers and owls. Birdwatching is the scientific extension of techniques to identify the different species in the field by understanding bird behavior, their anatomical features and filed characteristics. The differentiating species through observation in the field is challenging and interesting. Applying your own inbuilt analytical ways of thinking through self-argument in your mind, applying an elimination theory to isolate the species for definition is tough and not easy. This could be practiced alone or best in groups of likeminded people that is called a birding community where individual knowledge and experience is shared. It is not something that could be learnt overnight but requiring perseverance, patience and self-discipline. It requires the time to travel to locations as some birds are biome restricted and occur only in special habitats. The migrants can only be seen during a certain period of the year. Birds are the only known fauna to adopt in mass migration by flight over continents to avoid adverse seasonal weather. This is now an advance scientific research where extensive work is carried out with collaboration in the scientific communities worldwide.
|Pic Courtesy: Akila Panditha|
|Birds been at Thalawathugoda Diyasaru Uyana|
This is only a glimpse of the bird world waiting for you to explore beyond the Parrot and the Kingfisher that you knew from your kindergarten picture book. FOGSL that originated in the University of Colombo, Zoology Department is an NGO, providing free services to the general public on bird awareness. It also engages in research and conservation work with inputs from the general public. FOGSL is for all those who are interested in birds, wildlife and nature. It does not require academic qualification for membership but only your interest for outdoors. Membership is open for all ages from 8 – 80. ‘FOG KIDS’ is for the very young who are still with the picture book birds. The general membership is gifted with free knowledge through monthly awareness programmes and bird-watching excursions to Important Bird Areas [IBA] in the country on a cost sharing basis.
If this snippet did arouse that hidden bird within yourself; FOGSL is pleased to welcome you to the 18th P.B. Karunaratne Memorial Bird Educational and Photographic Exhibition on the 14th and 15th December 2017 at the Zoology Seminar Room University of Colombo and the ‘Kurulu Kaiya’ Bird Fair at the ‘Diyasaru Uyana’, Thalawathugoda wetland park on the 16th and 17th December 2017. You could then join hands in a national cause that will definitely change your lifestyle for betterment both in quality and health.