BEST SEEN AT: Mount Abu, Rajasthan
STATUS: Schedule IV, Vulnerable
GOOD TO KNOW: The more common variety of Red Avadavats are painted green to command a higher price
THE FACT that the munia is a sought after cage bird is reflected in its name, Avadavat, a corruption of Amdavad (Ahmedabad), which once had the most flourishing bird bazaar of its time. Scattered records from places like Lahore even categorise them as ‘escaped cage birds’. The munia has often been described as exquisite, friendly and easy to care for. No wonder then that it continues to be much in demand for the trade in exotic pets, both in India and abroad. According to Abrar Ahmed of Traffic India, munias account for nearly 40 percent of the illegal bird trade in India. They are sold for approximately Rs 20 -100 per bird. While the other seven sub-species of munias are distributed across the subcontinent, the Green Avadavat is sparsely distributed in Rajasthan, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. It is a pretty little bird — green with zebra-like stripes and a bright red beak. It is found in small groups in grasslands, scrub forests or sugarcane fields, usually in damp environs. Given the current levels of trade, the green munia’s future looks bleak.
PRERNA SINGH BINDRA