For Parvaiz Yousuf, the chirping of birds during the morning and evening twilight has been more than a background music since his childhood.
As a young boy, he couldn't help but be fascinated by these avian creatures. His house, nestled beside the Chatlam Wetland Reserve provided the perfect backdrop to nurture this captivation with this early connection sculpting Parvaiz into an amateur ornithologist, studying and understanding the diverse birdlife of Jammu and Kashmir.
‘Since my babyhood I keenly use to listen the chirping of migratory birds, their whistles engaged my heart and shaped who I am today,” Yousuf Tells The Himalayan Post.
It was a rare observation that proved to be a catalyst, propelling him into the role of a published author.
The turning point befell during a tourism festival when Yousuf realized that there were no written references that document the migratory and native birds of Kashmir
“I was volunteering in a Bird Watching festival organized by the Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Department when tourists sought a guide that could help them identify and appreciate the rich avian diversity of Kashmir, I sensed that no such guide existed, he says.
The emptiness was palpable, and Parvaiz could no longer ignore the calls of his avian friends.
"It felt like a void; we didn't have a single book that document our birds," he recounts.
Driven by his inner interest and the desire to fill this gap, Parvaiz made a life-changing decision: he would set out to record the birds of Kashmir.
After a Year of Dedication and Discovery, he published a book encapsulating the diversity of birdlife in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I dedicated a full year of my life to this project, pouring my heart and soul. I needed to meet with experts and enthusiasts because there was no existing source, and field trips proved invaluable.”
While official government data from Jammu and Kashmir acknowledges the presence of approximately 500 bird species in the region, including 32 that are considered endangered, Yousuf's book stands as a comprehensive work, showcasing in-depth profiles of 677 migratory bird species. "Many of these species have returned to the valley, and their documentation is of utmost importance," he stresses.
But what sets his book apart is its inclusion of local names for the birds, ensuring its accessibility and relevance to the local population.
Parvaiz believes in the adage that one who tries can never truly fail, while a failure is one who never tries at all.
"There was a need for baseline data, and now the foundation has been fully crafted," Parvaiz concludes with a gentle smile.