Rapid urbanisation can affect number of house sparrows

Prajakta Joshi
Friday, 20 March 2020

“We can still spot sparrows in the outskirts of Pune. However, as the city is expanding and more villages are turning into towns and cities, the sparrows will continue to go away,” said ornithologist Dharmaraj Patil said.

PUNE: While the latest survey on birds in India showed that the population of house sparrows has been roughly stable, experts have indicated that rapid unplanned urbanisation can hamper the species.

The State of India’s Birds Report that was released in February stated that the data from six largest metro cities (Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai) indicates a gradual decline in the abundance of house sparrows. However, the species is still categorised as ‘Low Conservation Concern’.

“The analysis presented in the report suggests that the species has been fairly stable since last 25 years,” the report stated.

Rapid urbanisation
“We can still spot sparrows in the outskirts of Pune. However, as the city is expanding and more villages are turning into towns and cities, the sparrows will continue to go away,” said ornithologist Dharmaraj Patil said.

He added, “Rural aspiration of development is usually translated to concretisation which is very harmful for the sparrows.”

Lack of nesting and roosting spaces
The house sparrows have been declining for a long time now. “Earlier, the sparrows nested in old wadas and houses. As the wadas in the city began to diminish, the birds are not able to make their nests in cement structures,” Patil said.

The diminishing bushes in the city have also robbed them of their roosting spaces.

“Around 50 to 100 house sparrows usually come together to sleep in the bushes at night. It has become very difficult for the birds to find such spaces anymore,” the ornithologist added.

Lack of soil and mud
Almost all birds follow the ritual of mudbath, where they roll in soil and flitter their feathers, which help them get rid of any ticks in their body.
“With almost no soil, the birds have no place for mudbath. Apart from this, the soil also adds as a prey base for the house sparrows, who depend on insects for their diet amongst other things,” Patil said.

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