Still chirping: sparrows continue to call Chennai their home

Four-month-long census throws up 101 sightings of the little bird

December 21, 2018 02:20 am | Updated 02:20 am IST - CHENNAI

Whatever Akshay Kumar’s character, Pakshirajan, may have told us about sparrows being affected by electromagnetic radiation in the Rajinikanth-starrer 2.0 , the Madras Naturalist Society (MNS) now has proof that the little birds continue to chirp – at least in Chennai.

The city-based nature conservation body carried out a four-month-long ‘Sparrow Census with MNS’, a citizen-led project, from March to July where it encouraged residents to report sightings of the bird using a survey form.

The results of the initiative revealed that 101 sightings of the bird had been recorded.

Among them, 78 were non-nesting sightings and 23 were of the birds nesting.

“We were pleased to have sightings of the bird in areas such as Vettuvankeni, Neelankarai, Shastri Nagar and Indra Nagar in Adyar, Porur and Madipakkam. We had a rapid assessment survey of sparrows done in 2012 and these areas did not feature then,” said G. Vijay Kumar, Honorary Secretary, MNS.

An atlas

The findings have been recorded in the form of a Sparrow Atlas for areas under the Greater Chennai Corporation, which MNS has put up on its website, .

The atlas has sightings recorded with regard to the location on a map of Chennai, with details of the time, place, the activity of the bird (flying, calling or feeding), as well as additional notes about the trees that they may be found near, or how many birds were spotted.

Insight on locations

Mr. Vijay Kumar said that though the numbers of the small birds were declining, the census had helped them gain an insight into newer locations where sparrows nested and were sighted.

“Sightings of sparrows were reported from several MRTS stations including the ones at Chintadripet, Kotturpuram, Kasturbai Nagar, Indra Nagar, Taramani and Velachery. The station buildings have high structures and are usually quiet and secluded and have several spots to nest,” he also said.

As a part of the rapid assessment survey in 2012, residents of the city had been invited to call and report sightings of sparrows in their locality.

The sparrow census this year, however, had the MNS members independently verifying sightings reported by residents.

With many residents having evinced interest in taking up conservation activities in the localities where sparrows have been spotted, the MNS plans on working with them as well as reaching out to schools to speak to students about the same.

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