A reassessment of the avian species diversity in the Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu, after the Vernay Survey

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J. Patrick David
R.J. Ranjit Daniels
Vinoth Balasubramanian


The Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu have been poorly surveyed for birds.  The best known bird survey in the Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu (EGTN) was by V.S. LaPersonne who carried out the the Surveys in Tamilnadu Eastern Ghats between 08th April, 1929 and 25th July 1929. This was reported by WHistler & Kinnear.  Thereafter information about birds in EGTN has come only from checklists published from time to time, by researchers, whose primary focus was not birds.  Hence, to fill this lacuna, a comprehensive survey of birds was undertaken in the EGTN from March 2012-–--February 2015.  The objectives of the study were to document the avian richness and abundance in EGTN, put them in perspective to the Vernay Survey conducted more than 80 years back, and identify priority sites for bird conservation.  The study covered the hills and forests of Tamil Nadu spanning nine districts.  In total, 262 species of birds were recorded during the survey.  Eight species of birds fall under the threatened category.  Species such as Square-tailed Bulbul Hypsipetes (lecocephalus) ganeesa, Rufous Woodpecker Micropternus brachyurus, Asian Fairy Bluebird Irena puella, and Malabar Whistling Thrush Myophonus horsfieldii still persist in the same old sites reported in the Vernay Survey.  The top five abundant species were the Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer, White-browed Bulbul Pycnonotus luteolus, Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus, Common Iora Aegithina tiphia, and Purple-rumped Sunbird Leptocoma zeylonica.  The Vaniyar riparian tract in the Shevroys, from its origins in the hills to the Vaniyar dam downstream, is a potential bird conservation site in the Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu.

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Author Biographies

J. Patrick David, CareEarth Trust, No.3, 6th Street, Thillaiganga Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600061, India

Currently Iam working as Ecologist in Periyar Tiger Conservation Foundation. Iam interested in documenting birds and conducting ecological research in birds

R.J. Ranjit Daniels, CareEarth Trust, No.3, 6th Street, Thillaiganga Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600061, India

Has worked extensively on bird species distribution in the the western and eastern ghats. Interested in Biogeography

Vinoth Balasubramanian, CareEarth Trust, No.3, 6th Street, Thillaiganga Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600061, India

Currently studying the avifauna of Pallikaranai marsh in Chennai


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