If you are old enough, you would know the crack of dawn cheep-cheep-cheep of hungry sparrows, the smell of sparrow's nest in the attic, the wrinkly texture of the fallen baby sparrows with transparent skin, the triangular red mouths that never close for food and various anecdotes about sparrows. But if you are young, the only sparrow you would now know is Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of Caribbean as the birds have almost disappeared from the urban landscape. In Hyderabad, you can spot the odd sparrow in Begum Bazar, Attapur, Golconda Fort, Karwan, Toli Chowki and parts of the old city. Then there are pockets in the city where these chirpy birds can be spotted on a regular basis. But otherwise, these ‘ultimate opportunists' have almost disappeared in Hyderabad and it is a worldwide phenomenon. To create a consciousness about the bird, a few NGOs have teamed up to mark the first World House Sparrows Day today.

So, what can the common man do to celebrate the day?

“If you want to do it by yourself set up a bowl of water or sprinkle some grain or kitchen scraps at a place at the same time beginning March 20. Or go for a picnic with binoculars and watch the birds,” says Mohammed Dilawar who is part of the world house sparrows day celebration. Make no mistake it is a celebration and no “tsk tsk, the sparrows are declining kind of negativity,” says Dilawar who sees a “yes we can kind of spirit in saving the house sparrows”.

The place you can have a guaranteed sighting of the bird is the Golconda fort with its many doors and rocky crevices serving as roosting spots, another place is along the Musi river bed where the birds and their chicks swarm the babool trees. We found our batch of sparrows in a small undeveloped plot of land where the neighbours dump their kitchen waste. While the birds swarmed creating a cacophony of delight, the nest was in the drain pipe of house. The photograph shows the babies (the hint of yellow on the side of the beaks is a giveaway) as they wait for their parents to feed them. Sparrows are one of those rare birds where the upbringing of the chicks is the job of both the male and female birds.

The birds have been placed in the Red List of the most endangered bird species in the Least Risk category thanks to the big spread of the species.

“The rationale of having an event is not only to celebrate the event for a day but to use the day to bring together all the individuals and organisations working on the conservation of House Sparrows and urban biodiversity on a common platform. With the help of the website we aim to build a network which can result in better linkages of like minded people. In the long term it's an effective way to carry out advocacy, do collaborative research and form national and international linkages,” says one of the NGO which is spearheading the effort.


A voice for the sparrowMarch 13, 2010