Vanishing birds

Vanishing birds

The global conference on sparrows being held in Bangalore on Tuesday, the world house sparrow day, is a reminder of the loss of a vital part of our living environment. The little chirping birds, which were once everywhere, were visible symbols of the health and munificence of nature, of the bond between the small and the big in the scheme of life and the interdependence of all living things. They lived close to human beings in villages and towns and never got in the way of an aggrandising humanity but their fleeting lives, thriving on the bounties of nature and leftovers, are endangered now. It is now difficult to spot them in cities, except in some wooded areas which are fast dwindling, and they are vanishing even from villages.

The sparrows are disappearing because they are unable to live and survive in an environment made unfriendly to them by our changing habits and life styles. Environmental pollution, the drying up and decline of lakes, the shrinkage of farmland, the rise of multistoried concrete buildings, the profusion of electric post and the electromagnetic radiation from mobile towers are all factors that drive the sparrows away. They are unable to build nests on trees which are being cut down or under the tiles of houses which have become concrete structures. There are not many hedges and bushes where they can find refuge. They are unable to find food because grains are no longer found scattered around houses or in markets, and worms and insects are eliminated with the use of chemicals. It is not possible to reverse these trends in the ways of our life, and the birds have become victims of these changes. It is feared that in the next few years the passing flight of a rare sparrow and the occasional chirping which gladdens the hearts will become a thing of the past.

There is need to create public awareness about the disappearance of the sparrows and how their extinction can be prevented. It is still possible to keep some of them with us if we care. It is not just for sentimental reasons that we should care for them. They also have a role in insect control and pollination. We have written countless poems about them; they do not deserve to be grieved for in elegies.

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