Do you miss your childhood darling, the house sparrow? You can find some around the airport

The house sparrow (Passer domesticus) was considered one of the most common birds in Bangalore, till suddenly a few years ago sparrows almost disappeared from the city.

It was a rapid change — one day they were here and one day they were not — and the city began to miss their noisy chirps and squabbles. Researchers cited several reasons for their decline, including the changing face of the city skyline, loss of garden spaces, mobile phone tower waves and pesticides used in the garden.

But thankfully, just as quickly as they vanished, the little balls of russet or buff-coloured fluff have made a comeback in parts of the city and they are found in surprisingly large numbers in the Bangalore International Airport.

“The Bangalore International Airport is one of the most exciting places to watch sparrows,” says Mohammed Dilawar, a well-known friend of the sparrow. “On many occasions, when I was travelling out of Bangalore I made sure I reached the airport at least few hours early, to watch the sparrows. To keep out of trouble I took permission from the CISF head of the airport to photograph and use the binoculars in the airport premises, keeping in mind the security concerns. I undertook a small survey of the airport to understand the presence of sparrows there. The steel structure of the airport offers the sparrows a wonderful nesting area. The grasslands on the opposite side of the airport offer insects that the sparrows need to feed their young ones.”

“They are usually hopping around or perched on the beams in the airport,” says Nanda Ramesh, who has taken the photos that appear here. “The sparrow images I have shared were not hard to take, mostly because they are urban birds and do not get disturbed easily by the presence of man.”

B.W. Shirolkar, a regular traveller, said, “I was at Bengaluru Airport to catch an early morning flight. It was around 5 a.m. when I noticed, rather surprisingly, about 10 sparrows having a good time, chirping around a food stall, eating all sorts of leftovers. I was very pleasantly surprised and so were other passengers.” “The sighting of sparrows in the departure lounge is wonderful for me, a bird lover,” says Mohammed Rafiq, another traveller. “Have the sparrows found a new haven around the airport surroundings?”

Atanu Mondal from Cisco has one concern. “I hope the airport authorities do not consider them a nuisance and take steps to reduce their numbers. I have seen how kites are culled in the old HAL airport premises.”

So the next time you take a flight out of Bangalore International Airport, look out for the cheeky house sparrow and maybe share a morsel from your sandwich with it!

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