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    White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis  
 
 
 
White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis copyright Jugal Tiwari; 2007; Acacia leucophlea forest in Kutch, Gujarat
 
     
 
 
  WHITE-NAPED TIT PARUS NUCHALIS AN ENDEMIC AND ENDANGERED SPECIES

J.K. Tiwari
Ecologist, Seawater Farms Eritrea, PO Box 406, Massawa, Eritrea, East Africa
Email- jugalt2000@yahoo.com

The White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis , also known as the White-winged Tit, White-winged Black Tit and Pied Tit, it is an endemic species in India with a disjunct and restricted range . It is known as Kabri ramchakli in Gujarati. Status in Kutch district, nesting and roosting behavior of the species were studied while I was working with the Bombay Natural History Society on the Bird Migration study Project and the Grassland Ecology Project, funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 1990-1995.

White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis copyright Nikhil Devasar; 2006; Kutchh

The White-naped Tit has a limited geographic range, due to habitat destruction and invasion of exotic weed into the thorn forest. The white-naped tit is on the checklist of threatened birds by collar and Andrew (1998). Its patchy distribution in southern India may be due to fragmentation of scrub forest habitat by human interference. In 1996 ,I had carried out status surveys in Kutch, Palanpur (Banaskantha district), Taranga hills (Mehsana district), Gujarat and seven districts of Rajasthan namely Pali, Jodhpur, Jalore, Sirohi, Ajmer, Jaipur and Nagore. A restricted range distribution is reported from the A.P. (Nellore) area and near  
White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis copyright Jugal Tiwari
Bangalore and Mysore. The BR hills (Biligirirangan hills area had a relict population of the White-winged Tit reported by Dr. Salim Ali.

A survey was carried out by the author in November 1999, to check the occurrence of the White-naped Tit in the BR hills Temple Wildlife Sanctuary located in Karnataka state. The White-naped Tits were sighted only at two places both at the lower reaches of the BR hills near Santemarahalli village. Acacia thorn forest is in good condition at the base of the BR hills. The tits were herd calling and on approaching they flew to a valley. The second sighting was made in the same patch of forest where again two birds were seen. The BR hills are the home of Parus major the Grey Tit. It means the Parus major and Parus nuchalis can co-exist in the same patch of forest and they are not mutually exclusive at least in some parts of India like Sambhar lake in Rjasthan, Balaram WLS and in BR hills WLS. The BR hills are situated some 80 kms away from Mysore. The area is under Chamrajnagar district. The temple of Biligiri Rangaswamy is situated on these hills at 1567 metres above sea level. The BR hills area is a a hot spot of Bio-diversity, Soliga tribe live in the these hills. There is no immediate danger of deforestation in the area. The BR hills is a temple forest area and religiously protected.

White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis copyright Jugal Tiwari
  Behaviour :

The White-naped Tit is seen in a flock of 2 to 6. The flock remain in contact by their musical call-notes and whistles. The White-naped Tits are shy in nature, they are agile moving from branch to branch of Acacia leucophloea and Acacia nilotica in search of insects. The tits roost in hollows of tree or over-hanging bark of dead and decaying Acacia trees. The White-naped Tits show strong affinity to their roosting sites. They tend to roost at the same site for months, if not disturbed. The Brahminy Myna and Yellow throated Sparrow compete with the White-naped Tits for nest and roost sites. The nesting
season of White-naped Tit is July to September in Kutch. They use the abandoned nest hollows of the Yellow-fronted Pied Wood-peckers.

Kutch district :
A major part of the Kutch district is still covered with tropical thorn forest, especially near Dhinodhar, Dayapur, Hothiai, Golai, Moti-Ber, Moti-Virani, Jathavira, Fulay reserved forest, Piyoni, Matano Madh, Khadir and Gugriana, where white-naped tits can be seen. The white-naped tits are common in Kutch district., where a healthy thorn forest cover locally known as Rakhal = Reserve forest is available. Detailed studies were started from January 1990, around Fulay-Chhari. During drought years, the tits were observed in vegetation covered stream beds and irrigated crop fields. This may have exposed the endangered tit to pesticides. The white-naped tit is patchily found in almost the entire Kutch, but is common no where. It prefers thorn forest with dead and decaying trees for roosting and nesting. The nest is located in holes prepared by the Mahratta woodpecker Picoides mahrattensis .

North Gujarat

Banaskantha: Four white-naped tits were seen in the Balaram Reserved Forest and Jethi village near Palanpur city, north Gujarat, in May 1996. Balaram is located in the lush green Aravalli hills. Banaskantha district was surveyed from 9 to 11 March, 1996, and a detailed survey was carried out with S.N. Varu from 19 to 23 May, 1996. North Gujarat is dominated by dry deciduous forest. A 1,625 sq. km reserved forest area exists in Banaskantha district. Chitrasni is the nearest village where two white-naped tits were seen with the mixed flock of grey tit Parus major, small minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus, and White-eye Zosterops palpebrosa . On September 11, 1996, two white-naped tits were observed in an Acacia nilotica plantation at Jethi railway station in Banaskantha. Salim Ali had collected white-naped tits from Deesa on January 10, 1931.

Mehsana district : R.M. Simmons had sighted white-naped tits in July 1931, and again in February 1932 (Collar and Andrew 1988), at Taranga hills. S.N. Varu and I had surveyed the Taranga hills on May 21, 1996, but failed to spot any tits, however the habitat is suitable, and they can occur.

Rajasthan survey White-naped tits can be seen near Bar village and in Sendra Reserved forest on the Pali-Ajmer border forest. Important areas for the white-naped tit are near Beawar, Bar, Sendra and Amarpura to Ajmer bear patches of tropical thorn
 
White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis copyright Jugal Tiwari
forest. The Acacia leucophloea forest is fragmented by several small to large villages and croplands with the exotic mesquite or Acacia forest. Several places in these hills, e.g. areas from Haripura to Bar are subjected to Gypsum mining.

Jalore district: Two white-naped tits were seen near Sunda-mata hill. S.Ali (1987) described both these tits as mutually exclusive. Except in the Kutch district, I have seen the white-naped and grey tit in the same patch of forest in many areas. R.M. Adam (1873) had obtained specimens of the grey tit and white-naped tit from the same patch of forest at Maroth in Nagore district. This was confirmed during the survey of Maroth, where I saw grey tit and white-naped tit in the same forest patch. At following places.

1. Balaram and Jethi forest of Banaskantha, North Gujarat
2. Sunda-mata hill, Jalore
3. Maroth, Nagaur district
4. Sambhar, Jaipur district
5. Biligirirangan Temple Wildlife Sanctuary

Jaipur district; Two white-naped tits were seen in an Acacia nilotica and A. leucophloea mixed forest at Nasia (Old fort) near Kanota, 11 kms away from Jaipur city. The species was reported from Jaipur district, by Santanu Kumar Singh at Banjar Bhumi near jaipur in 1993 (pers comm.)

White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis copyright Jugal Tiwari
  Nagore district: This district was surveyed on October 9, 1996. Six white-naped tits were seen in three different areas. Two each in Maroth, Panchotia near Nava town, and Sambhar salt works reserve. The Sambhar forest (10 sq. km) is privately maintained by the Sambhar Salt Works authorities. It is about 4 km away from the Nava town of Nagore district. This patch of original Acacia leucophloea forest is at present under serious threat, due to trees cutting by the villagers. R.M. Adams had collected the white-naped tit in Maroth, in 1873.

Ajmer is 482 m above the msl. The white-naped tit survives in some isolated pockets of the tropical thorn forest in Ajmer district. Apart from the present
sight records from the Sendra area, other birdwatchers such as Harkirat Sanga have seen Parus nuchalis in at least three places, in Ajmer district (Table 1).

TABLE 1

SIGHT RECORDS OF PARUS NUCHALIS FROM AJMER DISTRICT, RAJASTHAN
Date
Place
Nos.sighted
Sighted by
October 7, 1996
Sendra Reserve forest
2
J.K. Tiwari
October 14, 1996
Kishangarh
2
J.K. Tiwari
April 7, 1994
Ravli Todgarh
1
Harkirat Sanga
May 14, 1995
Nasirabad
2
Harkirat Sanga
January 20, 1996
Near Ramsar, Ajmer
1
Harkirat Sanga

TABLE 2

SIGHTINGS OF THE WHITE-NAPED TIT IN GUJARAT AND RAJASTHAN

Date
Numbers
Place
Sighted by
May 14, 1994
1
Ravli Todgarh Ajmer
Harkirat Sanga
April 7, 1994
2
Nasirabad Ajmer
Harkirat Sanga
January 20, 1996
1
Ramsar, Ajmer
Harkirat Sanga
May 20, 1996
1
Balaram, north Gujarat
J.K. Tiwari & S.N. Varu
Sep 11, 1996
2
Jethi
J.K. Tiwari
Oct 4, 1996
2
Sunda-mata, Jalore
J.K. Tiwari
Oct 7, 1996
2
Bar, Pali district
J.K. Tiwari
Oct 9, 1996
2
Maroth, Nagore district
J.K. Tiwari
Oct 9, 1996
2
Panchota hill Nagore district
J.K. Tiwari
Oct 9, 1996
2
Sambhar Salt works Jaipur district
J.K. Tiwari
Oct 9 1996
2
Kanota, Nasia Jaipur
J.K. Tiwari
Oct 14, 1996
2
Kishangarh, Ajmer district
J.K. Tiwari

CONSERVATION

Observation on the status of white-naped tit in Kutch, north Gujarat, Rajasthan and BR hills indicate that the survival of this endemic species is dependent on the conservation of the tropical thorn forest and protection of dead and decaying Acacia trees. The main cause of deforestation in Gujarat and Rajasthan are illegal charcoal making, gathering of fuel wood, invasion by exotic plants into the tit habitat and many other forest bird species habitat like White-bellied Minivet. Exotics like Prosopis juliflora and Lantana camara.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I thank the Oriental Bird Club, UK and the Leica Camera Co. for providing funds to conduct this study. The Bombay Natural Histpry Society and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for the opportunity to work in the Bird Migration and Grassland Study projects in Kutch district. I also thank Tim and Carol Inskipp, , Ole frod Jacobsone, Danish Ornithological Society, Asad Rahmani, David Ferguson, M.K. Himmatsinhji, S.N. Varu, Harkirat Sanga

For further details on the Parus nuchalis Kindly refer

1. HUSSAIN, S.A., S.A. AKHTAR & J.K. TIWARI (1992) : Status and distribution of White-winged Black Tit Parus nuchalis in Kutch , Gujarat, India. Bird Conservation International U.K. Vol. 2, pp 115-122.

2. TIWARI, J.K. & A.R. RAHMANI (1996) : Current status and nesting behaviour of the White-winged Black Tit Parus nuchalis in Kutch , Gujarat, India. Forktail (12) 950102.

3. TIWARI, J.K. (2001) : Status and distribution of the White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis in Gujarat and Rajasthan, Journal, Bombay Natural History Society, 98 (1), pp 26-30.

 
     
     
 

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