Finn’s Weaver (Ploceus megarhynchus): Revise global status?

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26 Responses to Finn’s Weaver (Ploceus megarhynchus): Revise global status?

  1. Hari Basnet says:

    In 28th March 2019, we have recorded between 60-80 individuals in the Shuklaphanta Grassland, Southern Nepal, you can read a small note on Finn’s Weaver at (researchgate.net/publication/340280579_Recent_records_of_threatened_birds_in_the_Shukilaphanta_Grassland).

    A survey conducted by Laxman et al. 2020 has recorded 133 individual birds from Shuklaphnata NP, read more from this…( https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348711144_Recent_records_of_globally_threatened_Finn's_Weaver_Ploceus_megarhynchus_Hume_1869_Ploceidae_Passeriformes_Aves_from_Shuklaphanta_National_Park_Nepal_implications_to_its_global_status)

  2. I have been personally and officially championing the cause of Finn’s Weaver conservation in India for almost 25 years now. My research over the years has witnessed a steady decline of Finn’s Weaver in most known terai grasslands across India.
    Although a breeding colony of less than 50 Finn’s Weaver in Ipomea / Typha reed beds in Haripura / Gularbhoj /Baur in Udham Singh Nagar, Uttarakhand has been making news since June 2020 – supposedly due to lock down calm effect, most other known areas state in north India have witnessed no Finn’s Weaver in recent past.
    BNHS is planning a conservation breeding program for Finn’s Weaver at Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary in north India from a small funding grant received from the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department.
    The Finn’s Weaver population in Nepal has also witnessed a drop in Nepal. The species needs to be immediately upgraded from its Vulnerable status to Critically Endangered status to garner maximum conservation support and attention.
    I request each and everyone individual knowing about this species past and present status in his or her state or field area to share their valuable input for future conservation of this threatened species!

    Rajat Bhargava, Ph.D
    Senior Scientist (Ornithology)
    Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai. INDIA

    References:
    Bhargava, R. (2017) Status of Finn’s Weaver in India: Past & Present. Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai. xii +124 pp. https://www.bnhs.org/public/pdf_documents/FINNS-WEAVER-PDF-COMBINED-min.pdf
    BHARGAVA, R. (2012): Birds of Meerut. 509 ASC Battalion, Meerut Cantt: 8.
    BHARGAVA, R. (2004): Assessing the threats and current status of Finn’s Weaver Ploceus megarhynchus in India. Indian Bird Conservation Network, Bombay Natural History Society, WWF-India and BirdLife International.
    BHARGAVA, R. (2001): Finn’s Baya. Mistnet 2(2): 3–4.
    BHARGAVA, R. (2000): A preliminary survey of the western population of Finn’s weaver in Kumaon terai, Uttar Pradesh, Northern India. Oriental Bird Club Bull. 32: 21–29.
    RAHMANI, A.R. (2016): Conservation of Threatened Grassland Birds of the Brahmaputra Floodplains. Final Report. Bombay Natural History Society. Pp. 66.
    RAHMANI, A.R., S. KUMAR, N. SRIVASTAV, R. BHARGAVA, & K.I. NOOR (2014): Threatened Birds of Uttar Pradesh. Indian Bird Conservation Network, Bombay Natural History Society, Royal Society for Protection of Birds, BirdLife International and Oxford University Press. Pp. xiv + 226.
    RAHMANI, A.R. & D. MOHAN (2013): Threatened Birds of Uttarakhand. Indian Bird Conservation Network, Bombay Natural History Society, Royal Society for Protection of Birds, BirdLife International and Oxford University Press. Pp. vii + 184.
    RAHMANI, A.R. & A.U. CHOUDHURY (2012): Threatened Birds of Assam. Indian Bird Conservation Network, Bombay Natural History Society, Royal Society for Protection of Birds and BirdLife International. Oxford University Press. Pp. viii + 167.
    RAHMANI, A.R. (2012): Threatened Birds of India – Their Conservation Requirements. Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and BirdLife International. Oxford University Press, Mumbai. Pp.xvi + 864
    https://sanctuarynaturefoundation.org/article/in-search-of-the-elusive-finn%27s-weaver
    https://india.mongabay.com/2020/06/finns-weaver-faces-a-risk-of-extinction/
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q0UDLXVCwk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5wt-06BxeI
    https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/crucial-plan-to-revive-invisible-finns-weaver-hits-covid-wall/articleshow/81956770.cms
    https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/captive-breeding-for-finns-weaver/articleshow/67992827.cms
    https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/almost-extinct-yellow-black-finns-weavers-found-in-new-nesting-spot/articleshow/76651314.cms
    https://indianbirds.in/pdfs/IB_16_5_PanwarETAL_FinnsWeaver.pdf
    https://epaper.timesgroup.com/Olive/ODN/TimesOfIndia/shared/ShowArticle.aspx?doc=TOIDEL%2F2020%2F06%2F27&entity=Ar02023&sk=908DF0C4&mode=text#

    • Dr. Dipankar Ghose, Dr. Diwakar Sharma, Dr. Saket Badola says:

      Researchers and birders have confirmed that Finn’s weaver populations in India are on the decline. The State of India’s Birds, 2020 (https://www.stateofindiasbirds.in/species/yelwea1/) has also categorised this species as Data Deficient. Based on these, WWF India would strongly recommend to adopt a pre-cautionary approach and upgrade the red-list status of Finn’s weaver.

      As is evident from the recent studies by scientists in India and Nepal, Finn’s weaver populations have declined to a great extent in its entire distribution range. This has also been confirmed by the Director of Wildlife Institute of India, Dr. Dhananjai Mohan and noted ornithologist and former Director of Bombay Natural History Society, Dr. Asad Rahmani, both of whom have contributed immensely to the long-term studies of bird populations in the region.

      We sincerely hope that the up-listing of Finn’s weaver will bring to focus the main reasons for its population decline viz., habitat loss triggered by land-use change and trapping of birds for cage bird trade, and will lead to corrective actions from government and non-government organisations.

  3. Dr Rajat Bhargava says:

    One of the major reason for this species decline is nest predation by House and Jungle crows especially during the first breeding season on tree tops.

  4. Laxman Prasad Poudyal says:

    Dear respected all,
    My name is Laxman Prasad Poudyal and now I am working in the Shivapuri nagarjun National Park Nepal. I worked as a Chief Conservation Officer in the Shuklaphanta National Park during 2019-2020; and had closely observed the presence of Finn’s weaver in the park. it seems that the population this species is being declined. We (I, my colleague Dev Raj Joshi and Dr Hem Sagar Baral) recently carried out a week long survey for the nesting colonies in the grasslands and surroundings in the park at the end of June 2020. A total of 16 nesting colonies with 66 active nests and 194 deserted nests were recorded from different grasslands of Shuklaphanta National Park and 133 individual birds were counted. Based on literature analysis and recent works conducted in its geographic range, we agree and recommend that this species’ status needs to be upgraded possibly to Critically Endangered. Please find the findings published in the link https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348711144_Recent_records_of_globally_threatened_Finn's_Weaver_Ploceus_megarhynchus_Hume_1869_Ploceidae_Passeriformes_Aves_from_Shuklaphanta_National_Park_Nepal_implications_to_its_global_status

  5. Mitra Pandey says:

    Bird Conservation Nepal has been annually monitoring Finn’s Weaver and its nest in Shuklaphanta National Park since 2015. The annual record of the individuals shows gradual increase until 2017 and then decrease until 2019. In 2020, there is again increase in the number of individuals as new potential sites were identified and wider area was covered for monitoring from 30 June to 4 July.

    Year Number of Finn’s Weaver recorded
    2015 200
    2016 250
    2017 300
    2018 245
    2019 177
    2020 254

    Reference: Bird Conservation Nepal. 2020. Report on monitoring of Finn’s Weaver Ploceus mergarhynchus in Shuklaphanta National Park, Nepal.

  6. Namaste to All,
    I am Rajendra Gurung, EC Member/Patron Member of Bird Coservation Nepal plus I ran the travel agency.

    I have visited the Sukla Phanta National Park in Jun 2018 and May 2019. during my both visit, I have seen and photograph over the 100 of Finn’s Weaver in each visit. I haven’t published the sighting to anywhere except some photographs. I hope my records will also help to count.

  7. Asad Rahmani says:

    The Finn’s Weaver is one of India’s most enigmatic species. I have been researching and compiling data on most of India’s threatened bird species for almost four decades now.
    My experience over the years has clearly indicated beyond doubt a sharp decline in Finn’s Weaver population. For instance even in the best of undisturbed and protected habitats such as in Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park in Assam with no habitat alteration / shrinkage or direct pressure from bird trapping, this species has shown no upward population trend.
    Dr Rajat Bhargava research had clearly pointed to the predation of nesting colonies on tree tops by crows as one of the main factors responsible for this species decline. I also propose that this species should be upgraded to the list of Critically Endangered species from its Vulnerable status based on it’s population trends over the years as highlighted by BNHS and BCN and other studies in India and Nepal terai.
    Finn’s Weaver deserves to garner all support for in-situ and ex-situ conservation at the earliest possible.

    Asad Rahmani
    Former Director, Bombay Natural History Society

  8. Anwaruddin Choudhury says:

    I agree with Drs Rahmani and Bhargava. In NE India there is no visible decline but the small numbers are not showing any increase either. Even sighting is also not assured. One day one can see several next day none. Only three areas havve regulr nesting, Kaziranga, Manas and RG Orang national parks, but owing too habitat change, from woodland to grassland Dibru-Saikhowa national park has potential to become a key habitat. I agree to the proposal.

  9. I wish to sincerely thank Dr Asad R. Rahmani and Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury for their valuable inputs about Finn’s Weaver status in Assam. Both extremely well know Indian Ornithologists have co-authored a book on “Threatened Birds of Assam”.

    Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury has been monitoring this eastern population of Finn’s Weaver for more than last two decades.

    This species records from Deepor Bheel mentioned in my report, page 80 https://www.bnhs.org/public/pdf_documents/FINNS-WEAVER-PDF-COMBINED-min.pdf were rather misleading since the sightings were of Eastern Baya and not Finn’s Weaver – which I actually came to know after publication of my report, hence we have one less area.

    I wish to also share what my BNHS ex-colleague Ms.Akshaya Mane interestingly wrote to me while doing her field work on Grassland birds of Assam after sighting this species in Orang National Park. She also wrote about her work in this forum last to last year.

    “In mid of May 2018, in Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, Assam, I sighted 7 nests of  Ploceus megarhynchus on Albizia odoratissima tree and 14 individuals at nests. In multiple visits, I found the common crows were predating on the colony. Three nests were badly damaged and crows were preying on chicks, after which the colony was abandoned in a day.” (Akshaya Mane in litt. to Rajat Bhargava on 24th June 2018).

    Her observations are extremely relevant for uplifting this species since it too supports my apprehension about crows being the main reason for this species decline in most known study areas.

    I also would like to thank all our Nepal Ornithologist from BCN and other organizations including Nepal Forest Officials for their recent field work and timely publication on this species.

    I hope we all from Nepal and India can timely do something to save this species which is getting rarer and rarer each year and would request the BirdLife team to consider our proposal for uplifting this species for getting highest level conservation support.

    I will be more than happy to provide any technical assistance for this species to prevent further population decline.

    With good wishes,

    Rajat Bhargava, Ph. D
    Ornithologist, Bombay Natural History Society,
    Mumbai, INDIA

    References:

    RAHMANI, A.R. & A.U. CHOUDHURY (2012): Threatened Birds of Assam. Indian Bird Conservation Network, Bombay Natural History Society, Royal Society for Protection of Birds and BirdLife International. Oxford University Press. Pp. viii + 167.

  10. Dhananjai Mohan says:

    Finn’s Weaver definitely needs to be upgraded in its red-list status as the species is continuously declining. As documented by Dr Rajat Bhargava in Udhamsinghnagar in Uttarakhand and bordering Uttar Pradesh in India, the populations have declined catastrophically in last two decades, primarily because of habitat loss owing to urbanization and industrialization coupled with intensification of agriculture. Surprisingly the bird seems to be avoiding well preserved terai forests and grasslands mosaics in the same larger landscape (Surai reserved forests, Pilibhit tiger reserve and Dudhwa Tiger reserves) and prefers agricultural habitats interspersed with small patches of wetlands/grasslands. This makes its conservation even more challenging. Nest predation has also been observed as a major threat to the sporadic breeding attempts by the bird. Can’t afford to delay its upgradation which may give the much required momentum to the conservation of the species.
    Dhananjai Mohan
    Director
    Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun

  11. Finn’s Weaver Needs Urgent Revision of its Global Status:
    Rapidly dwindling populations of Finn’s Weaver is a matter of grave concern. They have disappeared from known breeding areas in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The remaining nests on tree tops are subjected to considerable predation by crows. Urgent action in terms of recovery of this species in wild in cooperation with local communities as well as conservation breeding is the need of the hour. We can no way afford to delay the upgradation of the species to Critically Endangered.

  12. Well said. Coming this from one of the most experienced birders in India of the calibre of Dr. Dhananjai Mohan says it all for Finn’s Weaver.

  13. Sanjay kumar says:

    Finn’s Weaver faces real threat of extinction if not protected soon. The loss of habitat, serious threat to it’s nesting colony by crows and other predators, disturbances in breeding as it makes nests closer to agricultural fields and wetland patches near human habitation are reasons for such low numbers. lack There is inufficient information and scientific study on them and based on that roadmap for recovery of the specie population especially in Uttrakhand and Uttar Pradesh can be formulated. Therefore, Urgent revision of global status shall bring the conservation efforts by State government, NGOs and other organizations to forefront.

  14. I wish to sincerely thank Dr Dhananjai Mohan, Director, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India, a co-author of Threatened Birds of Uttarakhand (Rahmani and Mohan 2013) and a central figure in Uttarakhand Forest Department

    and

    Dr Bivash Pandav, Director, Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, India
    for their recent valuable inputs.

    The facts is this species has greatly suffered in north India terai especially in last two decades for a number of reasons and more so, when the fate of the current invisible population remains in non-protected areas .

    Upgrading Finn’s Weaver status would hopefully boost the conservation impetus in India – once home to 90% of the global Finn’s Weaver population (Rahmani 2012) especially at the state and central governments level.

    Nepal Government and NGO’s at a country level have already initiated conservation work of Finn’s Weaver primarily accepting this species as Critically Endangered.

    I personally feel this species beyond doubt deserves a Critically Endangered Global status !

    References:

    RAHMANI, A.R. & D. MOHAN (2013): Threatened Birds of Uttarakhand. Indian Bird Conservation Network, Bombay Natural History Society, Royal Society for Protection of Birds, BirdLife International and Oxford University Press. Pp. vii + 184.

    RAHMANI, A.R. (2012): Threatened Birds of India – Their Conservation Requirements. Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and BirdLife International. Oxford University Press, Mumbai. Pp.xvi + 864

  15. I wish to also thank Shri Sanjay Kumar, IAS and co-author of Threatened Birds of Uttar Pradesh for highlighting Finn’s Weaver conservation issues and his support for this rare bird uplifting.

    RAHMANI, A.R., S. KUMAR, N. SRIVASTAV, R. BHARGAVA, & K.I. NOOR (2014): Threatened Birds of Uttar Pradesh. Indian Bird Conservation Network, Bombay Natural History Society, Royal Society for Protection of Birds, BirdLife International and Oxford University Press. Pp. xiv + 226.

  16. GIRISH JATHAR says:

    The Finn’s Weaver is one of the most threatened species of India. Since last four years I have been working on Threatened Birds of Brahmaputra in the Terai landscape of Brahmaputra River, visiting most of the Protected and non-protected areas. I have had only one sighting of the species in last four years, which itself indicates its rarity.

    Bhargava (2017) mentioned on Past and Present distribution model of the species. This potential distribution model is based on data collected over the years. The model suggests that the extent of occurrence of the species in Terai landscape is 9454 Sq. km. However, the area of occupancy may be much less. A paper on the range contraction of the species over last 22 years is being prepared. The preliminary analysis indicate that more than 95% of its habitat is degraded suggesting only 472 Sq.km could be the most suitable habitat. Moreover, we do not know how much of the potential habitat actually holds the population of the species. The field based surveys also indicate that the species is not been observed more than three places in Northern India and two places in North-east India in last five years. Further indicating absence of the species in many known as well as potential areas.

    All the evidences presented by Dr.Bhargava suggest a strong decline of species from its known locations and warrants uplisting of species from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered.

    References
    Bhargava, R. (2017): Status of Finn’s Weaver in India: Past & Present. Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai. xii + 124 pp.

  17. R. Suresh Kumar says:

    As part of a team from Wildlife Institute of India I have been undertaking surveys for the Finn’s weaver over the last couple of years in eastern parts of Uttarakhand State from the Ramganga River in Corbett Tiger Reserve to Sharada River along the India-Nepal border. We found the species to be absent in many of the sites in the region where it was previously reported breeding. Records of the species primarily mention Finn’s Weaver nesting on tall Silk cotton Bombax ceiba trees here. However, during our surveys we found no such activity in many of the trees that still stand in the midst of large-scale land use changes taking place there. In June 2020 and in 2021 nesting was observed in an Ipoemea and Typha reed patch in a small wetland (Haripura) but the nesting failed. From what was reported earlier to what we see now the species appears to have drastically declined in this region. It is possible that they may also be shifting nesting sites across the border in the Uttar Pradesh State and into Western Nepal. This call for concerted actions for the species across the sites in both India and Nepal. I support the proposed up listing of the species to Critically Endangered status

  18. Manoj Nair says:

    According to the red-listing criteria of the IUCN, a taxon is Critically Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria (A to E), and is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

    Finn’s Baya is a species which exists precariously in a fast-disappearing habitat reeling under rapid and constant man-induced modification, that too in a handful of extremely local breeding populations in a single biogeographic zone within India and a tiny portion of adjoining Nepal. The plethora of risks being posed by climate-change can only exacerbate its continual decline. It is truly a species under a looming threat of extinction.

    In my almost three decades of field visits in both N and NE India, the species has remained one of the most sought-after birds in the Indian subcontinent among avid birders due to its extreme rarity and patchy occurrence. I managed to see a few birds of the western population only a couple of years back, though over the years I could notice the eastern populations at Orang and Kaziranga tenuously managing to hold on, but with progressively declining breeding success.

    The current IUCN figures – an estimated geographical range of 649,000 km2 and a population of 3,500-15,000 individuals are most certainly gross overestimates. The reality would be closer to figures which are most likely to be very significantly lower. The actual geographical area occupied by the extremely local breeding populations might well be low enough for it to adhere to Criteria B1. And given the precipitous declines in the last decade, documented by Dr Bhargava and his colleagues at the BNHS, the species might qualify under criteria A(1) too, where a suspected population size reduction of 90% over the last 10 years has occurred. Further the population decline could even be drastic enough for its inclusion under Criterion C 1 and 2.

    Though I admit that published hard data might be difficult to come by to substantiate some of these assertions, it is quite evident from the long-term observations of several naturalists including me and the preceding comments by some of the most distinguished ornithologists of India that upgrading the species to the critically endangered status cannot come at a more appropriate time. One would recall that the species was upgraded from threatened to vulnerable status in 1994. I strongly recommend the proposal and urge IUCN to give this beautiful species a healthy chance to survive well into this millennium and hopefully into the next.

  19. Ishana Thapa says:

    I agree with Dr Rahmani that even in the protected area and the only site in Nepal (Shuklaphanta National Park) the trend of population is not going upward. This year’s survey from 20-25 June 2021 carried by BCN and Shuklaphanta National park counted 246 birds. The species is already listed as Critically Endangered in the Nepal National Red List hence upgrading of the species in the same category at the global level will definitely provide higher priority for its conservation which it deserves.

  20. Peter Lobo says:

    The Finn’s Weaver population in Northeast India isnt reviewed properly. However, there are only two known places where the species can be seen with surety. Any other place which claims to have this species is without any substantial supporting documents. Thus with my experience of last 25 years this species is certainly rare and needs to be immediately upgraded from its Vulnerable status to Critically Endangered status to garner maximum conservation support and attention. I request each and every individual knowing about this species’ past and present status in Northeast India to share their valuable input for future conservation of this threatened species! Dr Rajat Bhargava has been doing research on these species since the last 25 years.
    Peter Lobo
    Proprietor
    All India Birding Tours
    Kalimpong- West Bengal

  21. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion. We greatly appreciate the time and effort invested by so many people in commenting. The window for consultation is now closed. We will analyse and interpret the new information and post a preliminary decision on this species’s Red List status on this page in early July.

    Thank you once again,
    BirdLife Red List Team

  22. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal

    Based on available information supplied in the comments during this forum consultation, our preliminary proposal for the 2021 Red List would be to list Finn’s Weaver as Endangered under Criterion C2a(i).

    It is clear both that the two subpopulations are now very small and have suffered a decline which can be inferred to be ongoing due to the loss of so many breeding colonies, especially in north India (per Bhargava 2017 and comments above, particularly R. Suresh Kumar). But the updated count data from Shuklaphanta National Park (Bird Conservation Nepal 2020 & comments above from Mitra Pandey in litt. 2021) and the comments on the likely near stable trend in protected areas in NE India by Dr. Anwaruddin Choudhury and Dr. Asad Rahmani in litt . 2021) indicates that it is unsound to suspect an extremely rapid rate of decline over the next three generations. Although the accurate size of the NE India population is unclear, comments clearly indicate that the best estimate of numbers is likely to be below 250 mature individuals (birds capable of reproducing). This appears to also be true for the western population, now that it is concentrated within Shuklaphanta National Park. As such, the species qualifies for listing at the level of Endangered, meeting Criterion C2a(i).

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline in late July, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final 2021 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2021, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  23. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    The final categorisation for this species has not changed. Finn’s Weaver is recommended to be listed as Endangered under Criterion C2a(i).

    Many thanks for everyone who contributed to the 2021 GTB Forum process. The final 2021 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2021, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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