Birds of sacred groves of northern Kerala, India

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K. M. Jyothi
P. O. Nameer


Sacred groves are patches of vegetation preserved due to  religious or cultural tradition.  They are protected through spiritual beliefs.  Sacred groves provide an excellent abode to the biodiversity of the region where they are located.   Scientific exploration of fauna from sacred groves of India is few and far between.  The present study was conducted to explore the bird diversity and abundance in 15 selected sacred groves of northern Kerala, eight from Kannur District and seven from Kasargod District each.  A total of 111 bird species were observed belonging to 49 families and 16 orders.  The sacred groves of northern Kerala support many of the ‘forest-birds’ such as the Grey Junglefowl Gallus sonneratii, Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella, Tickell’s Blue-flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae, Malabar Trogon Harpactes fasciatus, Heart-spotted Woodpecker Hemicircus canente, Malabar Whistling-Thrush Myophonus horsfieldii, Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra, etc.  The sacred groves of northern Kerala also support two endemic bird species of the Western Ghats, such as the Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus and Rufous Babbler Turdoides subrufa. Five species of raptors and four owl species were reported from the sacred groves of north Kerala during the present study.  The breeding of the White-bellied Sea-Eagle has been reported at Edayilakadu Kavu, a sacred grove in Kasargod District.  The sacred groves of northern Kerala also supported 17 species of long distant migratory birds.  Thazhe Kavu, recorded the Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus, a Near-Threatened bird according to IUCN.


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