It seems like an age gone by when we would hear their chirps in the fresh mornings and lazy afternoon. The tiny creatures would fleet in and out of balconies and nooks, to build nests with straws in their beak. Now the memory is reduced to school chapters in text books, only to be revived on today’s special dedication of World Sparrow Day. We wonder where have all the sparrows gone?
Ornithologists and birders express their woes for the missing birds. But even the experts suggest that we conduct a national survey before beginning to mourn. Have the birds flown to safer areas or is their number actually dwindling?
The most apparent reason for the missing birds is the way houses are built now. Will lesser scope for building nests, the present concrete structures are inhabitable for the sparrows. Also, the disappearing agricultural land near the cities means the birds have to fly further for their food.
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Many cities like Bengaluru, Pune and Mumbai have started sparrow conservation drive with the participation of local citizens. Passionate birders participate in bird count, demarcating safe areas, and building feeder boxes and nest boxes to create a friendly habitation for the sparrows.
Also, sparrows are social birds. Since ancient times, they have thrived around human beings. But now this resilient bird, found from the mountain peaks of Himalayas, to the valleys of Deccan is missing from the urban landscape.
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Dr. Satish Pande, an ornithologist and founder of Ela Foundation, suggests that sparrows are disappearing because concrete jungles have replaced traditional flat-roofed houses in cities. In a one-year duration study, his organisation distributed feeders and nest boxes from Sindhudurg to Chandrapur in Maharashtra. 634 locals participated in the study. It was found that 72.6 % sparrows took to these artificial perches. In the study, the found that sparrows need their nests for 68 days from the moment a female lays the egg to the time young ones take to their wings. Without spaces to build their nests, sparrows are disappearing from cities.
So, while we miss the gently chirping of these innocent creatures, we can help their return to the cities by placing feeder and nest boxes outside our concrete homes. After all we owe to the birds, whose lands we have usurped.
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