Will house friendly bird sparrows only exist in text books in the future ?
The bond between humans and sparrows is 11,000 years old. Sparrows are known as house friendly birds but, did you see this bird on your balcony as this is house friendly bird ? or if I may ask when did you see a sparrow last time. You probably will say in my village or when I was a child or you will say I know it exists but never saw it.
“The population of sparrows has declined in India in the last few decades. A healthy population of these birds has disappeared in urban areas because of habitat issues. With the disappearance, their ecological role is gone”.
Importance of Sparrow in the Environment
Sparrow serves the ecosystem of the earth. They feed their children with insects called alpha and cutworm. These insects are harmful to crops so, they eat those insects and protect crops from getting spoiled. Sparrows also eat these insects which appear during the monsoon season.
They also eat seeds of millet, thistle, weed and sunflower seed. However, they also eat fruits and berries. When sparrows eat those seeds, they spread seeds to places away from the fruit tree. It is a principle part of the germination of seeds because if the seeds fall close to the parent plant, they would have to compete for nutrition with the mature plant. It would reduce the chance of germination of the seed as well as the growth of the plant once the seed is germinated. By spreading seeds, sparrows help the survival of many plants that are the producers in an ecosystem.
Status of Sparrow in India
According to a recent survey by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the number of other birds has increased in the last 40 years, but the population of sparrows has decreased by 60% in India. There are 26 species of sparrow worldwide and 5 of them are found in India.
According to the 2015 Bird Census, there were only 5692 sparrows in Lucknow and about 775 sparrows in some areas of Punjab. In 2017, only 29 sparrows were found in Thiruvananthapuram.
A survey by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research found that their number decreased by 80% in Andhra Pradesh. States like Kerala, Gujarat, and Rajasthan have seen up to a 20% decline.
However, sparrows are still battling to reclaim their niche in their historical habitat range. In the global identification of the status of the species according to IUCN Red List, it is categorized as ‘Least Concern’ (a species evaluated as not being the focus of conservation).
World Sparrow Day
Every Year on 20th March, World Sparrow Day is celebrated in around 50 countries including Europe and parts of South Asia. The 1st World Sparrow Day was celebrated in 2010 in different parts of the world by the efforts of Mohammad Dilawar, president of the Nature Forever Society. Since then, the same is celebrated every year on 20th March. The purpose is to bring awareness among the people towards the protection of sparrows. In 2012, Sparrow was declared the state bird of Delhi.
Reasons for declination of sparrows
Mindless urbanization has taken away their natural habitat. Earlier, sparrows built their nests on the veranda of our homes. In today’s time, modern houses have no open space because they are so packed that Sparrows are not getting space to build their nests. As a result, they are getting homeless. The increased use of packed food, and insecticides in farming is resulting in inadequate availability of food for the birds.
Earlier women used to clean grain outside their houses and Sparrows would have plenty of food from there. But now sparrows do not have food and no homes. Sparrows need a human touch, which they are not getting- that’s why sparrow's healthy population is on the edge of extinction. If this situation continues, then in the future, we will only see sparrows in textbooks and not in our actual lives.
What we can do
1. Adopt a nest box (surrogate cavity) and a feeder with the grain into encourage sparrows to feed. This method will provide them with a constant source of food.
2. Plant native species of plants to help build a sparrow-friendly habitat and to espouse insect population.
3. Set up a water bath, especially in summer, to allow the birds to drink and bathe.
4. Spread awareness and encourage friends and family to save the sparrow.
Final year B.A.LL.B Student at Asian Law College, Noida