Debate over population of sparrows

Anvita Srivastava
Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Some experts feel the population has stabilised while some feel it is declining

PUNE: Ornithologists are divided over the argument that the population of sparrows is declining. As this year, the observation of World Sparrow Day completes a decade, few of the experts feel that now, the population of sparrows has stabilised while few still believe that they are declining. 

The World Sparrow Day initiated by Nature Forever Society with an aim to conserve the bird which was rapidly declining. Over the years, it became a people’s movement across the world and now is observed in different parts of the world. Experts feel that with rapid urbanisation and lack of muddy spaces are the reasons behind the dwindling population of this bird.

Mohammed Dilawar, President, Nature Forever Society, said, “When we started the campaign 10 years ago, it was difficult to convince the community and people about sparrows being endangered.”

“They felt it was a common bird and cannot get extinct. Now, the perception has changed over the years as it has become a people’s movement. With the initiative taken by us, the population has been stabilised too,” Dilawar said.

We have undertaken various awareness programmes and are also working on developing an eco-system where a lot of native plants can be grown so that insects can breed on that which can be the food of these sparrows, he added.

Umesh Vaghela, Ornithologist and founder-president of ALIVE, said, “Sparrows are decreasing in urban areas because of increasing urbanisation. There is no place for them to build their nest. Sparrows usually make nests in ‘Wada’ type structures and in urban areas, such structures are rare, which is one of the reasons why sparrows are declining.”

There is hardly any muddy place, where they can take mud bath which actually helps them in increasing their feather strength, he added.

Sharing about the remedies to control and conserve sparrow, Vaghela said, “It is important to grow native trees like citrus fruit trees and curry leaves as these are the plants where butterflies lay eggs and the caterpillar is one of most important food for sparrows. Today, a lot of birds are dying due to lack of safe drinking water, so if we can keep a bowl of water on our terraces, it will help these sparrows too.”

Dharmraj Patil, Ornithologist and member of Save Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, said, “The population of sparrows in urban areas is decreasing and one of the major reason is that there is hardly any soil path which is very essential for sparrows as they need a mud bath.”

It is very important for each society and cities to have a separate mud place for them. In fact, as the government made rainwater harvesting compulsory for societies, they should also make it mandatory to have an area which has a soil path and not cemented so that the birds can also survive, he added

Siraj Tamboli, a kite seller at Bhori Ali, Raviwar Peth has been keeping water and food for sparrows for the past 12 years. He said, “Every day I keep water and bajri for the sparrows and they come every day, drink water, feed on the bajiri and take rest on the roof of my shop and then fly away by 5 pm.”

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