With the number of house sparrows dwindling fast in the last decade several years, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Saturday said it was time to focus on their survival.

Speaking at an event organised by Nature Forever Society in collaboration with Bombay Natural History Society, Eco-sys Action Foundation (France), Avon Wildlife Trust (UK) and numerous other national and international organisations at her residence on the occasion of World House Sparrow Day, the Chief Minister said this first-of-its-kind event would also address the problem and look for solutions.

Ms. Dikshit said the programme would help in addressing the various reasons and solutions attributed to the decline of house sparrows like lack of nesting site, food, roosting sites, insect food, increasing use of pesticides, invasion of exotic plants into gardens, lack of hedges, microwave pollution and urban habitat destruction.

“There is a need to start house sparrow habitat conservation drive by providing water and food regularly, by switching back to organic gardening, planting more hedges and putting up nesting boxes dedicated to house sparrows,’’ she said.

It was mentioned at the event that the programme seeks to not only celebrate the beauty of house sparrows but all the common birds and bio-diversity.

Ms. Dikshit said till four years ago the dominant species of birds in Delhi were house sparrow, house crow, rock pigeon and common myna. By 2008, however, all these have been sidelined by the rock pigeon. “The sparrows and pigeons were in competition for nesting space and the smaller bird was obviously beaten. Rapid urbanisation has created obstacles in habitat of the birds,’’ she said.

The Chief Minister said as a result of this tussle, children now hardly find any house sparrow around their localities. “House sparrow is one of the most common and loved birds in the world. The decline of house sparrow has been a matter of much concern and debate across its natural ranges. It is an important bio-indicator. The decline in its number is a grim reminder of degradation of the urban environments and the danger from it to the

human welfare in the longer run,’’ she said.

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