The Indian House Sparrow is the first bird an average Indian encounters. A familiar friend from early childhood, consciously or unconsciously, one hears a lot about this bird. Their nests dotted almost every house in the neighbourhood as well as public places like bus bays and railway stations, where they lived in colonies and survived on food grains and tiny worms. The Sparrow is a human habitat companion. Wherever there are settlements this small chirping bird thrives. It represents the organic eco-health of a habitat.
Unfortunately, the house sparrow is now a disappearing species. But like all other plants and animals which were once abundant and are now facing an uncertain future, their numbers are also declining across their natural range. The reasons?
Sparrow numbers were fast reducing because of the continuing human induced modifications to their natural habitat. With focus on exotic and usually high-maintenance plants, cities are turning into urban green deserts, which means the natural hedges and nesting sites for the birds are reducing. Combined with lack of food and insects and the intensification of agriculture and use of pesticides in both rural and urban areas, the birds hardly have any chance to survive. Adding to the decline is the increasing microwave pollution from mobile phone towers which is harmful for the health of the birds.
With old wadas being replaced with newer buildings, there has been a reduction in the old niches where sparrows are known to nest.
What can be done?
Avoid exotic plants. Native plants not only attract birds but also help the environment.
Stop using chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Use organic fertilizers and pesticides only when needed.
Install bird feeders which must be replenished with supply of bird food daily.
Provide for nesting sites, nest boxes around the house.
Plant hedges or creepers for birds to rest.