Gone are the days when chirping of birds would wake people up in the morning. If ornithologists and bird enthusiasts are to be believed, in the last five years, the population of house sparrows in the city has reduced by nearly 50 per cent. “House Sparrow is supposed to be a part of the house and hence the name. But these days, the structural changes in our living has resulted in loss of habitat of the sparrows. I remember, during my childhood, I could hear hundreds of birds chirping in our garden in the morning and evening time,” said Vishwajeet Naik, a wildlife photographer, bird watcher, environmentalist and an artist.
Naik has given more than 200 presentations on artificial bird nests, to increase population of the birds. March 20 is celebrated as World Sparrow Day since 2010 in order to raise awareness about house sparrows and its conservation. According to bird watchers, urban settlements, especially the flat culture, have destroyed the habitat of the house sparrows, which is generally found around human habitations and not in dense forests or deserts.
Ornithologist Satish Pande of Ela Foundation said the changing lifestyle has caused a significant fall in the population of house sparrow in the city. “I would say that in the last five years, the population has reduced by almost 50 per cent. And there are many reasons for that. As compared to huge trees, the house sparrows feed on the insects found on smaller trees and bushes. However, due to use of insecticides and pesticides, they have nothing to eat,” said Panded.
“Earlier, they would make nests in the houses and people didn’t mind at all. These days, firstly, given that the houses remain locked most of the time, they cannot make nests, secondly, people have become intolerant as their houses get dirty,” he added. The diminishing practice of drying grains in the open, on which the house sparrows fed, has also added to the problem. Besides, the birds are also unable to find water, he said.
Based on his decade-long experience of bird watching, Mahesh Goudelar states that as compared to Pune, the population of house sparrows in the outskirts is quite encouraging and there is a conscious need of making the conditions favourable for the bird in the city too.
From the past many years, in order to increase population of the bird in rural areas, Ela Foundation has been distributing artificial bird nests in places around the city such as Purandar taluka, Saswad, Jejuri and Baramati, among others. In a year, the foundation distributes nearly 1,000 bird nests. The good part, said Pande, is that people in rural areas are coming forward to join the cause. There is good amount of acceptance by sparrows also, as breeding is taking place, he added. On the occasion, Jai Malhar Foundation also distributed artificial bird nests in Jejuri.