Status of birds in Agasthyamalai Hills, Western Ghats, Kerala, India

Main Article Content

Madhumita Panigrahi
V. J. Jins


The present study focused on the status of birds in two wildlife sanctuaries, Neyyar and Peppara, located in Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve, Kerala State, India.  A total of 197 bird species representing 16 orders and 57 families are reported from the study area.  According to the IUCN Red List, one Endangered, two Vulnerable, and nine Near Threatened bird species occur in the landscape.   Black Bulbul was the most abundant species with highest density, followed by Yellow-browed Bulbul and Crimson-backed Sunbird.  Despite many bird species being broadly distributed across elevations, most endemic species occur or breed at elevations above 1,200m, dominated by southern hilltop evergreen forest.  This highlights the prominence of these high altitude species and their habitats.  A customized conservation plan is needed for the whole elevation gradient with greater emphasis on high elevation forest. 


Article Details



Aliabadian, M., R. Sluys, C.S. Roselaar & V. Nijman (2008). Species diversity and endemism: Testing the mid-domain effect on species richness patterns of songbirds in the Palearctic Region. Contributions to Zoology 77(2): 99–108.

Balasubramanian, P., V.S. Vijayan, N. Prasad, R. Ravi & N. Krishnakumar (2004). Report on status and distribution of Hornbills in the Western Ghats. Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore, India, 38pp.

Bibby, C., M. Jones & S. Marsden (1998). Expedition Field Techniques Bird Surveys. Geography Outdoors, London, 139pp.

Buckland, S.T., D.R. Anderson, K.P. Burnham, J.L. Laake, D.L. Borchers & L. Thomas (2001). Introduction to Distance Sampling Estimating Abundance of Biological Populations. University Press, Oxford, 374pp.

Champion, S.H. & S.K. Seth (1968). A Revised Survey of the Forest Types of India. Government of India, Delhi, xxiii+404pp.

Daniels, R.J.R. (1997). A Field Guide to the Birds of South Western India. Oxford University Press, Oxford, xi+195pp.

IUCN (2015). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <>. Downloaded on 22 December 2015.

Jayson, E.A. & D. N. Mathew (2000). Diversity and species abundance distribution of birds in the tropical forest of Silent Valley, Kerala. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 3(97): 390–399.

Johnsingh, A.J.T. & J. Joshua (1994). Avifauna in three vegetation types on Mundanthurai Plateau, south India. Journal of Tropical Ecology. 10: 323–335.

Jones, M.J., M.D. Linsley & S.J. Marsden (1995). Population sizes, status and habitat associations of the restricted-range bird species of Sumba, Indonesia. Bird Conservation International 5: 21–52.

Kunhi, K.M. & S. Sankar (2000). Environmental impact assessment of pilgrimage in Agasthyamalai region. Technical Report No.238, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, 50pp.

Mittermeier, R.A., P.R. Gil, M. Hoffmann, J. Pilgrim, T. Brooks, C.G. Mittermeier, J. Lamoureux & G.A.B. da Fonseca (eds.) (2004). Hotspots Revisited - Earth’s Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Ecoregions. CEMEX, Mexico, 392pp.

Mudappa, D. & T.R.S. Raman (2008). Hornbill and endemic birds: a conservation status survey across the Western Ghats, India. Technical Report no.17, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysuru, 56pp.

Myers, N., R.A. Mittermeier, C.G. Mittermeier, G.A. da Fonseca & J. Kent (2000). Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403(6772): 853–858;

Nair, M. (1993). Avifauna of Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 33(4): 62–65.

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary Management Plan 2012-2013 to 2021-2022. (2011). Published by Kerala forest department, Kerala, India, 80pp.

Olson, D.M. & E. Dinerstein (1998). The Global 200: A representation approach to conserving the earth’s most biologically valuable ecoregions. Conservation Biology 12(3): 502–515.

Pascal, J.P. (1982). Bioclimates of the Western Ghats at 1/250,000 (2 sheets). French Institute, Pondicherry, India.

Praveen, J. & P.O. Nameer (2012). Strophocincla laughingthrushes of South India: A case for allopatric speciation and impact on their conservation. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 109(1–2): 46–52.

Praveen, J. (2015). A checklist of birds of Kerala, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 7(13): 7983–8009;

Praveen, J., R. Jayapal & A. Pittie (2016). A checklist of the birds of India. Indian Birds 11: 113–170.

Rahmani, A.R. & M. Zafar-ul Islam (2004). Important Bird Areas in India: Priority Sites for Conservation. Indian Bird Conservation Network. Bombay Natural History Society and Birdlife International (UK), xviii+1133pp.

Ralph, C.J., S. Droege & J.R. Sauer (1995). Managing and Monitoring Birds Using Point Counts: Standards and Applications, pp. 161–175. In: Ralph, J.C., J. R. Sauer & S. Droege (eds.). Monitoring Bird Populations by Point Counts. U.S. Forest Service General Technical Report PSW-GTR.

Ramachandran, V. & T. Ganesh (2013). Habitat structure and its effects on bird assemblages in the Kalad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR), India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 109(1&2): 87–95.

Raman, T.R.S. & R. Sukumar (2002). Responses of tropical rainforest birds to abandoned plantations, edges and logged forest in the Western Ghats, India. Animal Conservation 5(3): 201–216;

Raman, T.R.S. (2003). Assessment of census techniques for interspecific comparisons of tropical rainforest bird densities: a field evaluation in the Western Ghats, India. Ibis 145(1): 9–21;

Rasmussen, P. & J. Anderton (2012). Birds of South Asia.The Ripley Guide (Second). Washington, D.C. and Barcelona: Smithsonian Institution and Lynx Editions. 2 Volumes, 1–378pp; 1–683pp.

Reynolds, A.R.T., J.M. Scott & R.A. Nussbaum (1980). A variable circular-plot method for estimating bird numbers. The Condor 82(3): 309–313.

Robin, V. V., C. K. Vishnudas, P. Gupta, F. E. Rheindt, D. M. Hooper, U. Ramakrishnan & S. Reddy (2017). Two new genera of songbirds represent endemic radiations from the Shola Sky Islands of the Western Ghats, India. BMC Evolutionary Biology 17(1): 31.

Robin, V.V. & R. Nandini (2012). Shola habitats on sky islands: status of research on montane forests and grasslands in southern India. Current Science 103(10): 1427–1437.

Rodgers, W.A., H.S. Panwar & V.B. Mathur (2002). Wildlife Protected Area Network in India: A Review. Executive Summary. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, 51pp.

Sashikumar, C., J. Praveen, M.J. Palot & P.O. Nameer (2011). Birds of Kerala: Status and Distribution (First edition). DC Books, 835pp.

Stattersfield, A.J., M.J. Crosby, A.J. Long & D.C. Wege (1998).

Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 848pp.

Thomas, L., S.T. Buckland, E.A. Rexstad, J.L. Laake, S. Strindberg, S.L. Hedley, J.R. Bishop, T.A. Marques & K.P. Burnham (2010). Distance software: design and analysis of distance sampling surveys for estimating population size. Journal of Applied Ecology 47: 5–14;

Varghese, A.O. & K. Balasubramanyan (1998). Structure, composition and diversity of the tropical wet evergreen forest of the Agasthyamalai region of Kerala, Western Ghats. Journal of South Asian Natural History 4: 87–98.

Venkatraman, C. (2011). Habitat preference of birds in Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, southern Western Ghats. Status of Indian Birds and their Conservation: First International Conference on Indian Ornithology. Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore, 288pp.

Vetaas, O.R. & J.A. Grytnes (2002). Distribution of vascular plant species richness and endemic richness along the Himalayan elevation gradient in Nepal. Global Ecology and Biogeography 11: 291–301.

Vijayan, L., J. Umamaheshwary & S. Somasundaram (2005). Status and Ecology of the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon & Nilgiri Pipit in the Western Ghats. Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore, India, 91pp.

Vijayan, V. S & P. Balakrishnan (2005). Status, Distribution and Ecology of the Grey-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus priocephalus in the Western Ghats, India. Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore, India, 76pp.

White, R.L. & P.M. Bennett (2015). Elevational distribution and extinction risk in birds. PlosOne 10(4): e0121849;