State of India’s Birds, 2023: Range, trends and conservation status


The State of India’s Birds (SoIB) is a periodic, national-level examination of the distribution range and abundance trends of Indian birds that aids in formulating conservation plans. The SoIB last came out in 2020 evaluating 867 species. This 2023 report updates and expands on the previous one by evaluating 942 species, adding data from 20 million additional reports and refining the analytical methodology.  

The report evaluates the status of the birds through three indices. ‘Long-term trends’ (change over 30 years) and ‘Current annual trends’ (change over past eight years) and the third index is measuring ‘Distribution range size’ within India. These indices are evaluated along with the IUCN global Red List of Threatened Species 2022 to slot species into three conservation categories: high priority, moderate priority and low priority.

The report also lists species of highest conservation priority for each state and union territory to enable targeted action. Birds are grouped according to shared ecology, habitat, diet and behavior to understand driving factors of population change better.

This 113-page document is divided into nine sections: The State of Birds (Section 1); India-wide results (Section 2); Species Accounts (Section 3); Systematic Monitoring (Section 4); Major Threats to Birds in India (Section 5); Implications and Recommendations (Section 6); Methods (Section 7); References (Section 8); and Acknowledgements (Section 9).


  1. The main source of information for this report comes from a network of around 30,000 birdwatchers and fauna enthusiasts from across sites in India who have provided close to 30 million records.   

  2. One hundred and seventy-eight species of birds have been classified for High Conservation Priority as opposed to 101 species in 2020. Some species in this criterion are Ruddy Shelduck, Garganey, Common Teal and Tufted Duck. 

  3. Two hundred and seventeen species have either grown or have maintained stability since the 2020 report, as per the current annual trends in the report.

  4. Raptors, ducks and migratory shorebirds have shown the most decline and birds from key habitats such as open ecosystems, rivers and coasts have also declined. 

  5. Birds that can live across various habitat types are thriving as opposed to the ones who live in specialized and particular habitats. The latter need more conservation attention than the former.

  6. Among migratory birds, the most decline (by over 50 per cent) has been noticed in long-distance migrants with Arctic breeding shorebirds being largely affected. Resident species, on the other hand, have remained more stable.

  7. Birds whose diet comprises vertebrates and carrion have depleted concerningly followed by invertebrate eating birds. This requires attention and research to determine the availability of such food resources and if they are contaminated by pollutants, pesticides, and such. Conversely, fruit- and nectar-consuming birds are flourishing, the report states.

  8. The report also identifies 323 bird species as Moderate Conservation Priority and 441 species as Low Conservation Priority. 

  9. Birds that are endemic to biodiversity hotspots in the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka have shown rapid deterioration in India over the past few decades.

  10. Some species like the Ashy Prinia, Rock Pigeon, Asian Koel and Indian Peafowl have adjusted to man-made environments and are hence flourishing.

  11. The report elaborates on eight major threats to birds in India, namely: Monoculture plantations, Environmental pollutants, Forest degradation, Urbanization, Energy infrastructure (Wind energy and Power lines), Avian diseases like malaria and avian influenza, illegal hunting, and climate change.

  12. Owing to data insufficiency, long term trends for 44 per cent of the 942 species and current annual trends for 31 per cent of the species could not be calculated.

  13. The report acknowledges that data on certain groups like nocturnal birds and sea birds has limited availability in citizen science and hence dedicated networks to evaluate them are required, the report states. 

  14. The report calls for immediate conservation action for the country’s most gravely threatened species which are Jerdon’s Courser, Great Indian Bustard, White-bellied Heron, Bengal Florican, and Finn’s Weaver. 

  15. The report emphasises on habitat monitoring and research as central tools of conservation. Conservation laws and policy must be adaptable to change as new information and knowledge surfaces, the report adds.

    Focus and Factoids by Fiona Raval. 


SoIB Partnership 2023


SoIB Partnership 2023


Aug, 2023