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Nine unprotected wetlands of Ayodhya district, Uttar Pradesh, India were studied to assess the bird species composition and richness from March 2019 to February 2020 using point count method. A total of 105 species of birds belonging to 79 genera, distributed among 35 families and 12 orders were recorded. Passeriformes had the highest diversity with 25 species and 12 families. Anatidae was the most dominant family with 15 species, constituting 14.29% of the wetland bird community in the study area. These wetlands provided habitat for 62 residential species, 42 winter migrants and one vagrant. The carnivore guild was the most dominant with 46 species. The wetland sites under study were continuously used by humans mainly for land encroachment, fishing activities and livestock grazing apart from other minor uses. Out of the nine selected wetlands, three wetlands (˂2 ha) had very few bird species (≤3), therefore were excluded from further calculations. But the rest of the six selected wetlands (˃5 ha) provided habitat for 12 bird species of conservation importance (one Endangered species, five Vulnerable species, and six Near Threatened species) according to the IUCN Red list. These wetlands also supported 39 species of birds having a declining population trend globally. These findings highlight the role of medium and large-sized unprotected wetlands in providing critical habitat to the birds throughout the year in Ayodhya district. Future research must concentrate on understanding the key factors influencing the presence and absence of birds in such unprotected wetlands so that these wetlands can be managed effectively to secure the potential habitat of birds.
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