The curious case of disappearing house sparrows!
Where have all the sparrows gone in Delhi? Something is killing them off. Is it urbanisation? The population of the house sparrows has plummeted across the country, not just Delhi, due to fast urbanization.
The house sparrow is a stay-at-home sort of a bird, living in extended family groups in small territories, prefering to nest in nooks and niches of a type commonly found in somewhat rundown buildings. It is not a very adventurous species. And therein lies its downfall: when the food and shelter in its territory are removed, these birds struggle. They tend to stick around, rather than move on. So gradually, locally, they die out.
An RTI query in 2013 had revealed that no separate fund has been assigned for the conservation of sparrows in the capital city of the country. The RTI query revealed that although some places in Shalimar Bagh in Delhi had large groups of sparrows, the over ground work of Delhi Metro affected them drastically.
The first ‘Sparrow Day’ was observed on March 20, 2010, with great fervour and enthusiasm in Delhi. However, experts believe that it was a cosmetic exercise. Certainly, the dwindling population of sparrows continues to beg off not merely in the capital city, but also in most urban areas, just like the case of tiger. I have forgotten the last time that I noticed a sparrow sitting on my window sill. Sparrows are as important as tigers to our ecology system. Although the World Wildlife Fund has made ‘Save Tiger’ a global campaign, sadly the common house sparrow has escaped their notice.
A few years ago, a study revealed that electromagnetic signals from cell phone towers could have led to the decline in the sparrow population in urban areas. By planting and saving trees, we can conserve these little chirpy birds as well as the natural beauty of our society.
As we all know that the sparrows fly just within a radius of 2-3 km of their nests, what we need to provide is an ambience favourable to their habitat in every state in India. And public consciousness is must. To survive, they need large hedges or shrubs, long grass and unclipped and untended patches of land (better for insects and, therefore, their predators), and somewhere to nest.
If adorableness could be a criterion for preserving a species, the fast-disappearing house sparrows would have topped the list!