A site frequented by harriers can be monitored by birdwatchers, volunteers and photographers to understand patterns in harrier migration


An effective method to conserve species, communities and ecosystems is to monitor them and identify drivers of change. Harriers are no exception. Three species of dryland harriers Pallid, Montagu and Hen Harriers are showing overall decline in their breeding areas but we know very little about them in their wintering areas in India. This is largely because we do not have systematic monitoring of grassland birds. In one site near Hyderabad where harrier counts at a roost site was monitored for 7 years from mid 1980s, harrier numbers showed considerable fluctuations until the roost was destroyed due to a plantation and no harriers were seen later (Ganesh and Kanniah 1997). Such examples are probably numerous across the country, which happen regularly and often goes unnoticed.

Identifying grasslands used as roosts is extremely urgent and the need to monitor their populations is even more critical. As of now we have no information on the population trend of harriers in the country. Limited data shows that harrier populations are decreasing across India. Long term program to monitor harriers in the country is currently non-existent unlike in Europe and it is necessary to select sites, establish protocols, and initiate citizen based monitoring programs in India.

What one can do to help document grasslands or harrier status in India?

1. Locate grasslands and help us in mapping them.

2. Identify the ownership of the grassland area.

3. Do a biodiversity inventory

4. Write about grasslands and the threats to their status in various forums

5. Build awareness locally, regionally and nationally

6. Monitor birds in grasslands through various online portals such as eBird and India Biodiversity Portal.

7. Engage public and locals in grassland conservation.

8. Work with pastoralists who are dependent on pastureland.

9. Work together to maintain private grassland sanctuaries in case land is already owned by conservationists or organisations

10. Make them conservation or community reserves with local stake or even heritage sites. People interested in volunteering or reporting can write to