The residents of a neighbourhood in East Delhi are keeping their fingers crossed to see if their efforts to lure the reticent and elusive sparrows back to their locality will finally bear fruit.
Over the past couple of weeks,the residents have been involved in making sparrow nests by hand and are in the process of hanging them up in various locations.
By May 2,nearly 25 such nests will dot the locality and await the arrival of their inmates.
If sparrows flock to these nests,the government will extend the pilot project to others Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs) across the capital in order to rejuvenate the dwindling sparrow population.
So do these birds take to handmade nests? The Parks and Gardens Society,an arm of the Department of Environment,took its cue from public schools,who have for about two years now been luring the petite brown bird to their campuses with nests made by students.
The society decided to give it a try in a neighbourhood in Mayur Vihar.
The birds are disappearing. If this pilot project is successful,then we can involve other RWAs too, S D Singh,chief executive officer of the society,said.
Eco Roots Foundation,an NGO that has worked with schools earlier and are now facilitating the project,will report back to the society on its success by the end of May. The Parks and Garden Society is paying Rs 110 each,for individual nests or birdhouses.
Rakesh Khatri,director of the NGO,said they are aiming to have residents build about 25 such nests and put them up throughout the area.
The neighborhood is very conducive for such a project. There is a lot greenery around, Khatri said.
Delhi does not have sufficient data to prove that sparrows numbers are dwindling in the capital. The birds decline in population has been based on first-hand accounts of people who have grown up in the city and vouch that they see lesser number of sparrows now than they used to some years ago.
The decline of sparrows has been on Delhis radar for several years. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit made it the state bird in hopes of raising awareness of the plummeting numbers last year.
A recent census conducted by the NGO Nature Forever Society found that the rock pigeon is the most common bird species in Delhi. The bird is followed by the crow and the myna. The sparrow comes in fourth.
The interest in sparrows is not just because the tiny birds are cute,but because they are an indicator of the vitality of the habitat around them. They need wildlife to survive,whereas pigeons only need trash and aqueducts.