New Delhi: World sparrow Day is celebrated each year on the 20th of March. Nature Forever Society of India and the Eco-Sys Action foundation of France came up with the idea of the “World Sparrow Day”. The first World Sparrow Day was organised in 2010. The idea was to dedicate a day for the house sparrow in order to spread the word about its protection.
We remember the sparrow from our childhood days. They used to reside in colonies in nearly every house in the neighbourhood as well as public locations surviving on food grains and tiny worms. For many of us, the house sparrow evokes many wonderful memories. We would wake up in the morning by the sound of chirping of these birds. One could see these all around, some playing in the mud, a few flying with twigs in their beaks for making the nests in the breeding season.
It was a pleasure to observe the sparrows. Unfortunately, these birds are fast becoming extinct, and their populations are rapidly declining. There are multiple reasons for the decline in the house sparrows. The link between urbanisation and changing architecture may have played a key role in making the sighting of the house sparrow rare over the last couple of decades. The massive felling of trees to construct concrete structures, replacing the native shrubs with ornamental palm trees.
Radiation from mobile towers, use of insecticides and pesticides in farms and the emission of harmful gases are some factors responsible for the diminishing sparrow numbers.
The sparrow was declared the state bird of Delhi in 2012. Rakesh Khatri, an environmentalist who runs Eco Roots Foundation, and is know as the “Nest Man of India” has built over 36000 nests for sparrows in the last decade. He mentions that if the nest is well made , with a tiny opening and is placed at a good height, sparrows will definitely inhabit it, within a few days.
This shows that sparrows are present in the vicinity, but, are just not able to find the right nesting place. The house sparrow is a granivore species. During the breeding time, it eats insects and feeds them to its nestlings for their protein requirements. The bird will naturally come to neighbourhood parks and lawns if there are adequate insects there.
Manicured Gardens act as a deterrent for these birds to come to these places. Bushes are the ideal nesting place for these birds, so houses with bushes or bougainvillea generally tend to attract the bird.
With ongoing efforts to revive the sparrow and bringing about an awareness about it, Delhi has recorded a high sparrow count in residential areas such as Mayur Vihar, Ashok Nagar, Dilshad Garden, Sarojini Nagar and Dwarka.
In the coming years, we hope to see our childhood avian friend chirping around us in much larger numbers and human beings more sensitive to their needs.
Written by Environmentalist, Simarjeet Chadha