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Missing in City, sparrows thrive near airport

Last updated: 18 March, 2011
Bangalore, March 18, DHNS: 14:30 IST

Chirpers

Even as the once ubiquitous House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) has made a silent exit from many urban areas in the City, its numbers have reportedly risen near the Bengaluru International Airport, adapting well to the new surroundings.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests B K Singh, Additional Chief Conservator of Forests M N Jayakumar and Biodiversity Conservation India (BCIL) CEO Krish Murali Eshwar display the ‘Gubbi Goodu’ on Friday. DH photoCiting the strange case of 200 to 300 sparrows present at the Devanahalli-based airport, Chief Naturalist for Jungle Lodges and Resorts, S Karthikeyan said: “No one can clearly say why the sparrows have disappeared and what will bring them back to our homes, but we need to make a beginning.”

To mark the World Sparrow Day, that falls on March 20, Bio diversity Conservation India limited (BCIL), ZED-Foundation and the Zoo Authority of India jointly launched the “Gubbi Goodu” or sparrow houses here on Friday. Ten thousand sparrow houses are to be distributed free to the interested citizens.

Each house is cylindrically carved out of bamboo with a hole for bird to go inside, a perch and a door at the back side for cleaning. A wire hook has been provided for hanging it on roofs.

Experts feel that sparrows failed to adapt themselves to the changing architectural styles. They had less nesting spaces as high rises took over from one storey houses with tiled roofs and less food as manicured lawns replaced seed producing shrubs.

Indiscriminate use of pesticides eliminated their food source: insects. Also at fault were use of leaded petrol and micro wave pollution emanating from mobile towers though it hasn't been proved yet.

When asked about documentation of declining sparrow population, K Jayakumar, State Additional Conservator of Forests, said though the dwindling sparrow population can be assessed only by visual observation and there is no exact documentation .

He blamed the decline on vanishing kitchen gardens and abandoning of age old practices like manual cleaning of foodgrains that provided enough overspill for birds.

Deprived of food, shelter and security, sparrows had no option but to move to the periphery from the City. The exit of this chirpy diminutive intruder from the eaves and crevices of our homes is rued by many City dwellers.

But there is more than this sense of loss that should propel action according to biodiversity expert Harish Bhat. Sparrows feed on 200 to 300 insect per day and are an excellent pest control agent, he said.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, CEO of BCIL ZED, Krish Murali Eshwar said that individual efforts can go a long way in helping such campaigns.

“Sparrow houses and other measures may not immediately bring back the birds and one needs to be patient,” said Bhat while sharing his story.

He succeeded in attracting 24 sparrows to his house in Yeshwanthpur by simple measures like spreading minor millets and keeping water. But it took two long years for the first sparrow to appear at his house.

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