House sparrows used to be one of the most commonly found bird in south Asia.
The bird is strongly associated with human habitation from centuries and can live both in urban and rural settings.
They can be spotted easily by their chirping sound even if they are not visible. The texture of their feathers helps them to camouflage in their surroundings.
Sparrows are basically seed eaters and mostly fed on grass lands and agricultural fields. But in cities they also consume leftover food of human, animals and other birds. They also feed their chicks on small insects, maggots, larvae, nematodes and small snails.
In past few years their population is rapidly decreasing from our cities and villages.
One of the reason behind this disappearance is loss of their natural habitat by cutting of large trees, which directly affect sparrows and other birds.
Their natural nesting places are rapidly decreasing by the human influence. Modern glass covered buildings and architecturally designed houses also have lack of cavities where Sparrows, Maynah and Parakeets used to build their nests.
Because of our greed for wood we have chopped down our old trees like Bargad, Peeple, Jangle Jaleebi, Neem, Imli, Jamun, etc, which use to provides hiding, resting, roosting and nesting place for sparrows and other small birds. Parveen Shakir realized this long time ago pointed the issue in one of her poem..
“Iss baar jo eendhan ke liye katt ke gira hai,
Chirriyon ko barra pyaar tha uss boorrhe shajar se..”
Similarly in modern horticulture we have started planting small imported ornamental plants and topiaries to decorate our gardens and public parks instead of big trees and shrubs. Extensive use of pesticides and insecticides in agriculture also decreased the insects which is essential part of their and their chick’s diet.
Electro-Magnetic Radiation (EMR) pollution in our urban areas is another reason. The strong EMR releases from the networks of mobile phone towers directly effects on biological systems of birds, insects, human and plants. The radiation interferes in the navigation system and the nervous system of birds.
The experts cited in an international study that pinpointed cellphone towers are potential cause in the decline of animal and birds populations.
Another reason of disappearance of these birds are invasive species like Rock doves which are commonly known as wild pigeons. This bird is 8-10 times bigger in size than little sparrows. Their feeding requirement is also very high. So the competition for food in cities is increasing day by day. Their nesting places are also occupied by the pigeons.
Only few years back the wild pigeons were only sought in old buildings and railway station but now they can be seen everywhere In Karachi from inside of bridges to high rise buildings, from roads to airport runway, they are everywhere.
Out of superstition, human also like to eat these birds, it is a common belief that male sparrow’s meat and bones has aphrodisiac effect on men.
So, the bottom line is that sparrows losing their lives because of our lifestyle
In India the house sparrows are completely disappeared from major cities. Instead of losing this beautiful bird from our lives we need to take action for their conservation.
What we can do?
- Simply place few nesting boxes at your homes where they can breed.
- Allow them to eat your left overs or place/hang a bird feeder with bird feed like millets or other small sized grains of which they can feed.
- Plant more indigenous trees, which provide hiding, nesting and roosting place for these birds.
- Another important thing that we can easily do is to place a bowl full of fresh water in a shady place for these innocent bird to give them some relief in summer heat.