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They were once everywhere chiming and flapping their wings at the window sills, on top of cupboards and on the branches of trees. Where have all the little sparrows gone? This is the most frequently asked question about sparrows these days.
The association between humans and the house sparrows dates back to several centuries and no other bird has been associated with humans on a daily basis like the house sparrow. It is a bird that evokes fond memories of childhood and adds freshness to households through its presence. Many bird watchers and ornithologists recall with fondness how the house sparrow gave flight to their passion for observing birds. The nests of sparrow dotted almost every house in the neighbourhood as well as public places like bus stands and railway stations, where they lived in colonies and survived on food grains and tiny worms.
Unfortunately, the house sparrow has now become a disappearing species. 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. A study conducted by Andhra University, Visakhapatnam highlighted that the population of house sparrows fell by over 60 per cent even in rural areas of coastal Andhra Pradesh. A survey conducted by the British Trust for Ornithology showed that house sparrow population in Britain has declined by about 58 per cent since 1970.
Certainly, there is no one single reason for the decline of the house sparrow. Scientists and experts say that severe changes in the urban ecosystem in recent times have had a tremendous impact on the population of house sparrows whose numbers are declining constantly. Mobile tower radiation and excessive use of chemical fertilizers are aggravating the problem and have been identified as potent sparrow killers.
There have been many theories put forward for the almost worldwide decline of the house sparrow. It is said that sparrow chicks, which require insect food for their survival in their early days, have not been getting an adequate supply from their parents. This has triggered large-scale deaths of chicks leading to the gradual decline of their population.
The urban landscape to has been dramatically altered over the years. Old houses, with courtyards in front and backyards, have made way for concrete multi-stories, with a little greenery. No longer are sparrows able to find the tiny nooks, crannies and holes where they used to build their nests.
Typically, sparrows were never an issue of concern for us with their diminutive presence in our households. Perhaps, it is this diminutive presence because of which even their gradual disappearance has gone unnoticed. Mohammed Dilawar is rightly called the ‘Sparrow Man of India’ as he has been successful in drawing the attention of the world towards the declining number of house sparrows.
House sparrows are important bio-indicators and their decline is a grim reminder of the degradation of the urban environment and the danger from it to the humans in the long run.
1. Where could be the sparrows seen often in the past?
2. How long is the association of the house sparrow with humans?
3. What does the bird evoke in us?
4. Who are ornithologists?
5. What does the study conducted by the Andhra University show?
6. What is the decline in the number of house sparrow in Britain?
7. What has triggered large-scale deaths of chicks?
8. How is the decline of house sparrows, not an auspicious sign?
1. In the past sparrows could be seen chirping and flapping their wings at the window sills, on the top of cupboards and on the branches of trees.
2. The association of the house sparrow with humans dates back to several centuries.
3. The sparrow evokes in us the fond memories of our childhood.
4. Ornithologists are the scientists who study birds.
5. The study conducted by Andhra University shows that the population of house sparrows has declined by over 60 per cent even in rural areas of Coastal Andhra Pradesh.
6. In Britain, the number of house sparrow has declined by about 58 per cent since 1970.
7. Not getting enough supply of insect food for their survival in their early days from their parents has triggered large-scale deaths of chicks.
8. House sparrows are important No-indicators and their decline reminds us of the degradation of the urban environment.