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Ornithology is the scientific study of birds and it evolved in Europe during late 16th century as humans were always fascinated by birds and their natural history. Indian ornithology is over 300 years old. One of the oldest accounts of Indian birds was published in the year 1713 as an appendix in Ray’s “Synopsis Avium et Piscum” authored by Edward Buckley, a surgeon at Fort St George, Madras. However, it was the triumvirate of T.C. Jerdon, Brian Hodgson, and Edward Blyth whose pioneering works on Indian birds in 19th century laid the foundation of systematic ornithology in India. It grew stronger with contributions from several legendary ornithologists, notably A.O. Hume in the first half of the 20th century and later Salim Ali, the Birdman of India.

India is home to over 1200 species of birds, of which 61 are endemic to the country and 134 species are near-endemic. The recently published ‘India Checklist’ (Praveen et al. 2016, Indian BIRDS 11:113-172) acknowledges a total of 1269 species of birds for India, constituting about 12% of the world avifauna, with the Himalayan Forest Thrush Zoothera salimalii, described from north-eastern India (Alström et al. 2016), being the latest addition. Among the bird families, chats, robins, and flycatchers (Muscicapidae) are the most diverse in Indian avifauna (97 species), closely followed by raptors (Accipitridae: 57), and typical babblers, laughing-thrushes, and allies (Leiothrichidae: 53).

According to the IUCN 2016 Red List assessment, 97 species of birds found in India are threatened with extinction. These include 17 Critically Endangered, 20 Endangered, 56 Vulnerable, and 4 Data-deficient taxa. Besides, another 90 species of Indian birds are classified as Near-threatened.

Division of Ornithology at SACON, which was recently carved from the erstwhile Division of Avian Ecology, primarily aims to study the following aspects of Indian ornithology:

  1. Ecology and systematics of Indian birds
  2. Biogeography & macroecology of forest avifauna
  • Bird communities, assemblages, and populations
  1. Ecosystem services and functions of birds
  2. Changes in bird populations in response to human enterprises including climate change and deforestation

In addition to research on Indian birds, the Ornithology Division also conducts the International Conference on Indian Ornithology, hosted by SACON every four years with the next edition due in January 2018. The division also coordinates the National Ornithological Databank (NOD) Cell to disseminate key information on Indian birds to all the stakeholders including conservationists, researchers, students, policy makers, forest & PA managers, birdwatchers, media, and general public.

  Dr. Rajah Jayapal, Principal Scientist & Head

 Dr. S. Babu, Scientist

    Mr. S. Suresh marimuthu

Ph.D., Scholar

Title: Occupancy and distribution pattern of owls in Andaman Islands with special reference to community assembly rules(Registered in Manipal University, 2015)

   Mr. G. Babu Rao

Ph.D., Scholar

Title: Assemblage of shorebirds in Sindhudurg District, Maharashtra(Registered in Manipal University, 2015)

    Ms. R.K. Niveditha

Programme Fellow, NOD Cell

Ms. R.K. Niveditha is currently working as Programme Fellow with NOD Cell. Niveditha completed her under-graduation in Zoology and post-graduation in Environmental Science from PSG College, Coimbatore under Bharathiar University. She was earlier closely associated with a software development project ‘Common Birds of Coimbatore’ aiming at bird identification for beginners. Niveditha is a keen birdwatcher and she is also a gifted artist. Some of her paintings of animals and birds adore the wall of NOD Cell.


  1. Mapping key nesting sites of coastal and marine birds for identification of Ecologically Sensitive Areas along Indian coasts
  2. Owl assemblage and occupancy in Andaman archipelago, India
  3. Status and distribution of avifauna within the coastal talukas of Sindhudurg district, Maharashtra

Bhupathy, S., G. Srinivas., N. Sathishkumar., M. Murugesan., S. Babu, R. Suganthasakthivel, & P. Sivakumar. 2012. Diversity and conservation of selected biota of the Megamalai landscape, Western Ghats, India. Current Science 102 (3):

Aarif, K.M. and S. Babu. 2012. Record of Indian Rock Python (Python molurus) in Kadalundy Estuary, South west coast of India. Cobra 6(2):6-7.

Bhupathy, S. &S. Babu. 2013. Meghamalai landscape: a biodiversity hotspot. Journal of Threatened Taxa 5(15): 4939-4944.

Babu, S.,G.Srinivas., H.N. Kumara., T.Karthik& S. Molur. 2013. Mammals of the Meghamalai landscape, southern Western Ghats, India – a review. Journal of Threatened Taxa 5(15): 4945-4952.

Babu, S.& S. Bhupathy. 2013. Birds of Meghamalai landscape, southern Western Ghats, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 5(15): 4962-4972.

Aarif, K.M., S.B. Muzaffir., S. Babu& P.K. Prasadan. 2013. Shorebird assemblages respond to anthropogenic stress by altering habitat use in a wetland in India. Biodiversity and Conservation23(3): 727-740.

Jayson, E.A., S. Babu&K.G.Suresh. 2013. Recovery of White Tern Gygisalba at Athirapally, Kerala, India. Indian Birds 8(4):108.

Babu, S.& K. Kalaimani. 2013. New sighting record of Grizzled Giant Squirrel Ratufamacroura from Thiruvannamalai Forest Division, Eastern Ghats, Tamil Nadu. Journal of threatened taxa6(2): 5492-5493

Jayakumar, S., Babu, S. and Mahendiran, M. 2013. Stray dogs Canisfamiliarispreying on Threatened Birds in Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu. Zoos Print magazine 29(1):32

Das, S., Dutta, S., Sen, S., Jijumon, A.S., Babu, S., Kumara, H.N. and Singh, M. 2014. Identifying regions for conservation of sloth bears through occupancy modelling in north-eastern Karnataka, India. Ursus25(2): 111-120.

Jayakumar, S., Muralidharan, S. and Babu, S. 2014. A hitherto unrecorded sighting of the common PochardAythya farina (Linnaeus 1978) (Aves: Anseriformes:Anatidae) in Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 6(11): 6485-6487.

Babu, S.,Karthik, T., Srinivas, G. And Kumara, H.N. 2015. Linking critical patches of sloth Bear Melursusursinus for their conservation in Meghamalai hills, Western Ghats, India. Current Science 109 (8):1492-1498.

Bhupathy, S., Jins, V.J., Babu, S and Joyce, J. 2016. Distribution and conservation status of the caenophidian snake Xylophiscaptaini& Winkler 2007 in the Western Ghats, India. Current Science 110 (5): 908 – 912.

Babu, S., Kumara, H.N. and Jayson, E.A. 2015. Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat Signature of the Indian Giant Flying Squirrel Petauristaphilippensis (Elliot 1839) in the Western Ghats, India. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society 112(2): 65-71.

Patil, A., Shirke, B., Babu, S., Rao, G.B. and Quadros, G. 2016. Unusual weather condition causing the transfer of seahorses Hippocampus kuda onto the sandy beach of Sindhudurg district, Maharashtra. Current Science 111(5): 792-793.

Jayapal, R., Qureshi, Q., and Chellam, R. 2011. Identification of biomes and their indicator taxa for conservation planning: a case study from central Indian birds. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society, 108: 163-171.

Praveen, J., Jayapal, R. and Pittie, A. 2013. Notes on Indian rarities-1: seabirds. Indian Birds, 8: 113-125.

Praveen, J., Jayapal, R. and Pittie, A. 2014. Notes on Indian rarities-2: Waterfowl, diving waterbirds, and gulls and terns. Indian BIRDS, 9: 113-136.

Varma, V.,  Ratnam, J.,  Viswanathan, V., Osuri, A.M.,  Biesmeijer,  J.C., Madhusudan, M.D., Sankaran, M., Krishnadas, M.,  Barua, D., Budruk, M., Isvaran, K.,  Jayapal, R.,  Joshi, J.,  Karanth, K.K., Krishnaswamy, J., Kumar, R.,  Mukherjee, S., Nagendra, H., Niphadkar, M.,  Owen, N., Page, N., Prasad, S., Quader, S., Nandini, R., Robin, V.V., Sait, V.M., Shah, M.A., Somanathan, H., Srinivasan, U., and Sundaram B. 2015. Perceptions of priority issues in the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems in India. Biological Conservation, 187: 201-211.