Sharjah: The UAE’s only endemic Kingfisher bird sub-species, the Arabian Collared Kingfisher, has increased in number and scientists in the country have for the first time successfully bred three of the birds in captivity, officials announced on Monday.
Sharjah’s Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) recently concluded its annual census of the bird in the Alqurm Protected Area of Khor Kalba. A total of 131 birds were counted in this year’s census, a slight increase from 125 birds the previous year.
- Photos: Gulf News readers share pictures of beautiful flowers, flamingos, peacocks and other birds in the UAE
- From Sharjah Corniche to Al Majaz Water Front check out Sharjah neighbourhoods where rents have fallen
- Photos: Gulf News readers share pictures of sunrise, sunset and clouds formation in the UAE
- Aston Martin DBX will arrive in the Middle East in October
Bred in captivity
Scientists from the authority have also for the first time successfully bred three birds in captivity from eggs collected during this year’s breeding season. A single egg was collected from five different nests and then hatched in incubators at the Kalba Bird of Prey Centre. This is considered the first successful effort of its kind internationally for the sub species, EPAA said.
The rare bird only lives in the Alqurm Protected Area in Khor Kalba. It is a recognised sub-species and genetically different to other Collared Kingfishers in the rest of the world. The subspecies population is currently stable, but they still face the threats to their survival in the form of pollution, alien species and a very limited habitat range surrounded by human development.
EPAA chairperson Hana Saif Al Suwaidi said: “The authority has all the required resources and expertise that helped carry out this study successfully. The raised chicks of the Arabian Collared Kingfisher are being cared for by the dedicated team at Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre. The UAE is home to a vast variety of species of birds and witnesses several birds migrate to the region all year round, especially from Europe, Asia and Africa.”
The site provides a distinctive environment for the reproduction and development of many species including sea turtles, fish, crabs and varieties of invertebrates. The site serves as an important food source for many birds including Arabian Collared Kingfisher.
She added: “We pay great attention in studying this species, starting with our maiden study back in 2014. Based on our observation, the number of birds born as result of mating reached 125 in 2019, increasing this year to 131. Preserving their habitat could be a challenge as it is usually involves protecting them from being destroyed and working constantly towards replenishing their food.”
The annual census of the species takes place in June or July each year during the kingfishers’ breeding season, which starts from April until August. The survey takes place during the breeding season as this is when the birds are most territorial and easy to spot.
The census takes five days to complete. It is carried out by EPAA scientists with the help of volunteers.