CHENNAI: This is real estate that your 12-year-old can afford. Providing nests for as low as `100, a group of wildlife conservationists in Chennai is hoping to increase the city’s bird population that has been slowly declining over the years. “Over the last decade, the number of birds in Indian metros has gone down sharply,” confirms Mohammed Dilawar, who has been working on the Common Bird Monitoring of India Programme for almost a decade now.
As it turns out, space within the city isn’t just a premium for us humans hoping to invest in a dream home. The massive rise in apartment complexes has drastically reduced the tree cover in most localities, leaving our feathered friends with fewer options to set up their nests. “We’ve seen nests everywhere but on a tree when we go out to do our rescues — on window ACs, underneath sunshades, on top off Metro Rail pillars... all because of a lack of space,” says Ravi Kumar, a reptile conservationist.
Getting together with friends Shravan Krishnan, Dinesh Baba and Nishanth Nichu, this group is hoping to help more birds find homes this summer, which is a special requirement at this time as “it’s also a breeding season”, he adds.
Handmade and eco-friendly, each nest is made of a bamboo log and can house a family of four small-sized birds. These could be sparrows, tits or parakeets. The nests will be sold along with bird feeders to create a comprehensive assisted habitat for the avian populace.
“This will be distributed along with information booklets,” adds Shravan Krishnan, a popular face in animal welfare circles. According to the data collected from earlier projects in Chennai, it was found that in most cases the birds adopted the nests within a month, while in certain cases it took almost three months. “However, the breeding has always been successful,” says Sanjay, president of CARE that has been working on reviving the sparrow population in North Chennai over the last couple of years.
While there is no way yet to determine the specific increase in bird population in pockets where nests have been placed, Dilawar, also a sparrow conservationist and founder of the Nature Forever Society based in Maharashtra reveals, “We distribute nests all year to Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai. We’ve seen a distinct increase in the winged population where these nests have been introduced. All you need is a few birds of a particular species in the area to begin with, and within a year or two, you will see a 20-30% rise in the bird population there.”
(These bird nests and feeders will be available from Saturday. A volunteer will personally come to your house to help you set it up. Contact 9600119081 or 9884461090)