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Updated: February 17, 2014 15:18 IST

Towards making homes for sparrows in Madurai

S. Poorvaja
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A boy puts grains inside a sparrow nest box at his house in Madurai on Sunday. Photo:R. Ashok
The Hindu A boy puts grains inside a sparrow nest box at his house in Madurai on Sunday. Photo:R. Ashok

The Mahiru Foundation has distributed over a 100 nest boxes in Nagercoil, Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Madurai each.

Karen Judi and her family have been waking up for the last one month to the chirping of sparrows every morning.

This commerce professor from The American College here has three sparrow boxes in the compound of her house which is being frequented by around six to seven sparrows every morning.

“Earlier sparrows found it easier to build nests in crevices and small spaces near ventilators in tiled and thatched houses. Now with high-rise concrete structures, there is no space in or around houses for them,” says M. Rajesh, Tamil Nadu coordinator for ‘Mahiru Foundation’, an organisation that has been working for the conservation and protection of sparrows.

Speaking about the initiative and distribution of nest boxes to conserve the sparrow population in the city, Mr.Rajesh says that they have targeted areas where people say they have sighted sparrows.

The foundation has distributed over a 100 nest boxes in Nagercoil, Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Madurai each. “There have been little or no sightings of the bird in the city and we have only kept boxes on the outskirts for now. People have to keep the cotton boxes near their houses and sprinkle grains and keep a small bowl of water inside,” he adds.

While March 20 is being observed as ‘World Sparrow Day’, for many in the city hearing the chirps of the small, brown bird has become a rarity.

The simple house sparrow has been sighted lesser and lesser in cities with the increasing number of high-rise buildings and lack of open spaces and greenery.

“The lack of food for sparrows has been a major reason for their dwindling numbers. Earlier, rice used to be transported in gunny bags and grains which spilled from them used to attract the small birds. Now everything has been replaced with polythene and plastic bags,” says Tamil Dasan who runs ‘Naanal Nanbargal’, an environmental organisation.

Environmentalists in the city say that the increasing use of pesticides and insecticides in gardens and fields has affected the insect population which, in turn, has affected sparrows.

Rice ‘Kolams’ or patterns drawn outside houses too have been replaced with chemical powders and people seldom leave grain to dry on their terraces nowadays which used to contribute to their food.

“Sparrows make nests out of things found around houses such as paper, pieces of plastic, coconut husks and threads. They can’t be isolated from humans and build nests on trees, which is why it is important for people to make provision for their food and space,” concludes Mr.Dasan.

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