It's stories such as these that make ‘Citizen Sparrow' so interesting. Launched by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), ‘Citizen Sparrow' is an online survey aimed at “documenting the presence or absence of sparrows” in India. Sparrows seem to have suddenly disappeared from our lives. Where have they gone? Conservation experts from across the country have come together to find out.

According to Dr Asad Rahmani, Director, BNHS, questions in Parliament about the fall in the population of sparrows triggered the survey. “The Ministry of Environment and Forests wrote to me asking me to prepare a report. I made one and the government replied that they would like BNHS to study sparrows. Initially, the question of mobile towers affecting sparrows came up and we did a literature survey to find out more. But we found that there were contradictory reports. There was no concrete evidence that mobile towers caused the decline. That led us to this project.” The subject being vast and since sparrows were found all over the country, the scientists decided to involve people in the project. “At the end of two months, we will analyse the results,” explains Rahmani.

So why are there fewer sparrows now when compared to the past? “There are multiple reasons for the decline. The major cause being pesticides,” says Rahmani.

“They have killed a lot of soft-bodied insects. Young house sparrows feed on such insects — they are almost gone now. I can hardly see earthworms in the soil these days. It's because of all the chemicals we have brought in.”