When we compare the city we live in right now, to what it was decades back, there are a few distinct differences. One such difference is the constant chirping of the little brown sparrows that has gone missing! Rampant urbanisation have turned our cities into concrete jungles, destroying habitats and resulting in a rapid decline in the numbers of sparrows. Hence, to raise awareness about this once abundant little creature, World Sparrow Day is celebrated every year on March 20.
First started in the year 2010 by the Nature Forever Society (NFS), a non profit organisation based in Nashik, Maharashtra and some other international organisations, World Sparrow Day aims to create awareness about the disappearance of about 26 types of sparrows found across the globe. Out of these, five species of sparrows are found in India – House Sparrow, Russet Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Sind Sparrow, and Spanish Sparrow.
Oan Dilawar, co-founder of NFS, in conversation with G’nY, said, “Sparrow numbers have been on the decline because of a variety of reasons – from radiation from the mobile towers, habitat loss due to loss of green cover, to increase in construction, as well as lost nesting opportunities”.
Sparrows, unlike most birds, need cavities to make nests and the increase in steel and glass constructions has resulted in a problem of nesting for them – pushing their numbers down. Dilawar added that since independence there has been no scientific study regarding sparrows. Events like the World Sparrow Day have helped bring people together in the need for conservation of the species.
In order to work around it, a three-day sparrow count has been initiated by NFS, which aims to established a sparrow count. It will also help in establishing a scientific study to ascertain the reasons behind their disappearance. The three-day activity from March 18-20 was done with help of volunteers and birdwatchers. The results of the count will be out by March 26 and will help further planning of the process.
NFS began its work in 2005 and has been responsible for creating awareness among common people regarding the loss of sparrow from urban spaces. Apart from distributing bird feeders and nest boxes, NFS was also behind the Delhi government’s initiative of making the House Sparrow the state bird of Delhi in the year 2012.