Society

Meet the sparrow pals

A sparrow quenching its thirst in a water bowl in the terrace garden. Photo: K.R. Deepak   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Sparrows get many of us nostalgic. Not very long ago, this cosmopolitan bird used to give people company with their morning cup of coffee. Most of us born in the 80s would remember the song ‘Ek Chidiya Anek Chidiya’ on Doordarshan - a popular animation film that narrated the story of how a united flock of sparrows escaped a birdcatcher. So common and so sociable, the chirrup of these tiny birds were part of our childhood.

So what went wrong over the years? Where have the sparrows disappeared? As the concrete jungle spreads across cities and semi-urban spaces, hundreds of sparrows have taken a flight to never come back.

On the eve of World Sparrow Day (March 20), crusaders for the conservation of this gregarious friendly bird share their thoughts on ways to bring their chirp back in our backyards.

Nature Forever Society

Eco pioneer Mohammed Dilawar, founder and president of Nature Forever Society, has been spearheading conservation efforts to revive the population of house sparrows in India from the past decade. Over the past 10 years, his organisation has distributed 2.5 lakh bird feeders across the country.

“The depletion of habitat at urban and semi-urban spaces has been going on at an alarming rate, which is the reason behind the disappearance of common small birds like sparrow. The only way to bring them back is by people’s participation. We need storytellers, sparrow feeders, photographers, bloggers, poets and volunteers and people from all walks of life to do their bit to create a harmonious space for the house sparrows to co-exist with human beings,” says Dilawar.

‘Save the Sparrow’

This year, Dilawar is tapping the power of social networking to spread the message of ‘Save the Sparrow’ across the globe. All you need to do is visit the website www.worldsparrowday.org , click on the download section and get sparrow posters.

“We are urging people to use hashtags #worldsparrowday and #Ilovesparrow in Twitter and Facebook over the weekend and keep it trending. This way we can reach out to people across the world and tell them ways to help the sparrow population by keeping bird feeders and bird baths,” he says.

This year Nature Forever Society is tying up with edutainment firms, corporates, schools and educational institutions for conservation programmes across cities.

“We insist on simple events that are doable and don’t involve elaborate planning or finances. For instance, school students can take out a sparrow procession and corporate employees can throw a sparrow party. The idea is involve as many people as possible to spread awareness and take up conservation measures,” Dilawar adds. The society today has over 25,000 members from different cities across India.

Sparrow Samaritans

Cities such as Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Vizag has quite a few organisations and good Samaritans who are doing their bit to revive the dwindling population of house sparrows and other common birds in urban areas. Manju Gupta’s terrace garden is a favourite spot for house sparrows that comes every morning and evening to peck grains from the bird feeders. But it wasn’t until a good three months of wait that the chirpy birds finally made it a regular spot to visit.

“The feeders should be kept in an undisturbed corner of the house. It takes time for the sparrows to get used to the people and the place,” she says.

The Guptas have also made a common practice to gift bird feeders to family and friends on special occasions.

Other communities like Burhani Foundation India have an environment wing that encourages their community members to keep bird feeders at home. Samina Ekhlas “The foundation distributes bird feeders across India. Every house in Yendada near our mosque in Vizag will have a bird feeder,” says Samina Ekhlas.

In fact, a couple of years ago as part of their spiritual head’s 100 birthday celebrations, a project SOS (Save Our Sparrows) initiative was carried out and bird feeders distributed across the country. This organization has been advocating environmental awareness and research around the world, for the past 20 years.

Be a sparrow crusader

To be a sparrow crusader, you can visit the website www.worldsparrowday.org . Bird feeders and nests can be ordered online through ecommerce websites like Amazon and also through natureforever.org. You can also put out a birdbath with clean water for sparrows to drink from and bathe in.


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 12:58:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/world-sparrow-day-how-to-bring-sparrows-back-in-our-backyards/article8371038.ece

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