‘Sparrow data a far cry in India’

March 21, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 05:44 am IST - Mumbai:

The chirping of the sparrow may have got quieter by the passing day, but there is no reliable data on their figures in the country so far, experts said on World Sparrow Day on Sunday. Owing to lack of financial and human resources for research no sustained counting of sparrows has taken place.

“We need a lot of volunteers and a scientific approach for counting. It is a complicated process because many factors have to be considered: you have to see the open spaces, lawns, rural and urban areas. It is very difficult to estimate. However, we know that their figures are on the decline,” Asad Rahmani, senior scientific advisor, and former director of the Bombay Natural History Society, told The Hindu .

Mr Rahmani said air pollution and pesticides in natural surrounding are the main causes of destruction of sparrow habitat and food sources. “There is no food to feed the chick. The adult sparrow feeds on grains, but the chick needs soft-bodied insects because of the protein in them. If they get these insects they grow fast and strong, if not they become weak and are eaten by the crows.”

He said limited nesting sites and lack of open spaces are other reasons. Besides, in Mumbai, pollution was a major factor affecting their survival. “Modern buildings do not have spaces for nests. In Chembur, I had set up three boxes and they all had nests. Those three boxes were occupied all the time. These days, even the lampposts don’t have insects,” he rued.

The West has been collating sparrow data for decades and has developed a robust body of research. “This process is nearly absent in the Indian scenario,” pointed out Mohammed Dilawar, founder and president of Nashik-based Nature Forever Society.

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