Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IRRI holds workshop on identifying farmer-friendly bird species in rice fields

By Finbarr Horgan

A bird identification workshop was held at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) HQ on 30 July. Richard Smedley and Clare Jones, IRRI’s resident bird experts, presented different survey methods used during ornithological research to 12 participants. Participants learned the main characteristics, unique behaviors, and songs of the most common birds encountered in rice fields. The workshop ended with field practice at the Experimental Station.

With these new skills, IRRI researchers will examine whether the careful management of rice fields, together with ecological engineering practices, can create suitable habitats for wild birds and consequently reduce insect and snail populations. Ecological engineering provides suitable habitat for perching and nesting that promotes bird foraging. Swallows and kingfishers, which both feed on insects, were more commonly seen at ecological engineering plots than at adjacent control (conventional rice) plots during experiments conducted in the 2014 dry season. Researchers hope to better quantify these trends during the wet season.

Barn swallows perching at ecological engineering field plots in IRRI 

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