College Principal initiates steps to revive swallow population

The principal of Periyar Government Arts College, V.N. Viswanathan, has taken the initiative to revive the population of the common swallows in Cuddalore district. For the purpose he has entrusted the task of “plotting of map” of the swallow occurrences across the district to the zoology department.

Mr. Viswanathan told The Hindu that he was very concerned about the swallow population that was dwindling at a fast pace, almost to the level of extinction. The cute and chirpy swallows that enamoured the young and old not long ago were becoming a vanishing species.

Mr. Viswanathan said that various reasons were cited for the disappearance of swallows, and, the prominent one among them being the increased use of chemical fertilizers and heavy dose of pesticides in the farming operation. Another reason may be the un-checked growth in the number of microwave towers to cope with the ever-expanding demand for mobile phones. Other reasons that also contributed their bit for the common swallows becoming scarce were the shrinking green cover, denudation of the foliage by natural calamities such as cyclone and storms and the clearing of green patches to make way for concrete jungles. Mr. Viswanathan said that during his childhood, watching the surprisingly swift-footed, or winged agile swallows, was a pastime that entertained many. It had almost become a custom for households to scatter small grains in the courtyard and kept a bowl of water exclusively for the swallows’ consumption. But, unfortunately, now the swallow had become a stranger to the children.

Mr. Viswanathan said that he had taken a small measure of keeping an artificial nest: made of wooden planks with two holes on the front and the back — for the entry and exist of the bird — and small holes for ventilation, it is kept on a tree on the college campus, meant to be a home for the swallows.

He was surprised to see that within days four to five swallows had come to occupy the nest. For their sake, he had kept a vessel with water inside. Mr. Viswanathan said that he was trying to rope in sponsors for procuring such wooden nests/boxes to be distributed to the housing colonies, associations, educational institutions and other wooded premises. He also proposed to approach the UGC seeking aid for conducting a thorough study on the swallow and for finding ways and means of reviving their population.