The Black-breasted Parrotbill (Paradoxornis flavirostris) is one of India’s rarest, enigmatic and least-known birds. Till recently Debeshwari, in the Eastern Zone in Kaziranga, and Dibru-Saikhowa close to Tinsukia in N Assam were the only two places where the bird was found. However it seems that for the last few years the birds seem to have become extremely scare in these areas.
On 17th March 2011, birders Soma Jha and Sushmita Jha sighted this bird in Manas National Park (also UNESCO Natural World Heritage site and Project Tiger Reserve). The sighting of this bird in Manas is truly significant.
As per the Bird Life International factsheet, the species faces rapid and extensive loss and modification of tall grasslands and reedswamp throughout its limited range. This is occurring as a result of drainage, conversion to agriculture (primarily rice-paddy, mustard and tea plantations), overgrazing by domestic livestock, grass harvesting for thatch production and inappropriate grassland management within protected areas. Burning of grassland in protected areas is also a major threat (Choudhury 2011). Extreme flooding events in the Brahmaputra valley, associated with rapid run-off from an increasingly denuded catchment, could damage grasslands, although some flooding may be beneficial to grassland quality.
We urge CI readers to keep us updated about any such reports of interesting wildlife sightings by email.
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The rapid and extensive loss and modification of tall grasslands and reedswamp throughout its limited range is the main threat to the Black-breasted Parrotbill.