Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chirp for the sparrow! Tweet for the sparrow!

This year’s World Sparrow Day on 20th March should not end with the day. Instead, like the year’s theme ‘Chirp for the sparrow! Tweet for the sparrow!’ the event deserves to be carried through the year bustling into activity for conservation of not only sparrows but also any species that deserves attention. 

Sparrows are smaller birds but make a great sight. They are found in 2/3 of world’s landmass and are no less impressive in their segregation into 24 different species. Thanks to the European settlers who transported the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) to different parts of the world.

                     A female sparrow (Passer domesticus) carrying food in her beak for her chicks

To anyone of my age the house sparrows shall make a pleasant sight full with nostalgic memories, as it takes us 40-50 years back in time. Then sparrows will descend in large flocks in courtyard, and were found making nests in all places. It was a common sight to find their chicks falling on ground, and we will make desperate efforts to place them back into their nests. 

Their clear sexual differentiation, with papa sporting black beard like feathers reminded us of our disciplinarian father. When in small groups, their chirp was musical and gave feelings of life and company around, and when in large groups that was no less than the bustling human activity in a downtown market.

I am reminded of my great childhood memories when we will wait for hours to catch some sparrows in summer holidays. But will seldom succeed to catch one or two. The only occasion one could easily catch them was probably during their ferocious fight for space for nesting.

I wish all bird watchers, enthusiasts and conservationists on this occasion, as I believe the day is more symbolic of  overall need and practice of conservation. I came to know about the very good work of Mohammad Dilawar who has taken up the conservation awareness about the house sparrow. 

Dilawar has made the following suggestions to overcome the decline in the population of the house sparrows:

  •   Restoring gardens and green spaces in the urban landscape 
  •  Alterations in modern architecture to provide nesting cavities 
  •  Making available appropriate food 
  •  Protection against microwave pollution 
  •  Reduction in pesticide use 
  •  Need for diversifying, instead of mono-cropping

In an open space, in front of my home, I have seen some of these suggestions of Dilawar being translated in the nature, into huge breeding populations of house sparrows. Undisturbed in the thick bushes (with yellow flowers), sparrows are breeding in large numbers, and, chirping all day long, reminding me of their presence and company in close neighbourhood !.

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