Dubai: Dubai’s reputation as a fast-growing tropical desert paradise in the sunny Gulf isn’t only attracting tourists from around the globe.
Dubai Municipality wildlife specialists say that the number of birds in the city of Dubai has increased exponentially given the rapid growth of residential areas and the greenery planted over the last two decades.
While actual numbers aren’t available pending further study, municipal officials say that since the 1990s, residential birds have drastically increased due to the growth in crops, greenery, lawns and golf courses.
The downside is that increasing flocks of new residential birds in Dubai are also using those new green areas to nest, leaving their eggs and young in harm’s way of unsuspecting residents who may not be aware of the growing nesting populations.
Yesterday, the municipality cautioned residents not to tread on birds’ nests as most eggs are laid on the ground near vegetation, to enable Dubai’s wildlife to continue thriving in the city.
“The main breeding grounds are not only at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary but also at Al Wasl Lake, as well as the pond parks in Al Barsha, Al Ghusais and Al Nahda. The mating season is from March to June and some of the birds have already started laying their eggs,” said Dr Mohammad Ali Reza Khan, Specialist, Wildlife and Zoo Management, Public Parks and Horticulture Department of Dubai Municipality.
Khan told Gulf News that “in the last week, the nesting of black-winged stilt (Himantupos himantupos) was observed in some areas of the sanctuary. Black-winged stilt lays eggs from late March until late August, as the parents incubate the eggs alternately until they hatch. One nest usually contains two to four eggs and the incubation period lasts 22-27 days.”
The black-winged stilt, common stilt, or pied stilt is a widely distributed very long-legged wader in the avocet and stilt family. The scientific name Himantopus comes from the Greek meaning “strap foot.”
“While some birds, such as the doves, use trees to build their nests in, others lay their nests on the ground near coastal areas.
“People have to be careful when treading on the ground because birds, such as the plovers and lap wings, build their nests in the wilderness and can be overlooked by passers-by,” said Dr Khan.
The Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) called Naqdah locally, breeds on sandy coasts and brackish inland lakes, and is uncommon on fresh water. It nests in a ground scrape and lays three to five eggs. This species build creative nests using pieces of seashell, grit, dry herbs and some feathers.
“The Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is keen to play its role in the protection of these birds, and provide livelihood opportunities for the sustainability of the natural heritage of the country and the protection of biodiversity,” Khan added.