When Smita Krishnan’s seven-year-old daughter asked if she could see sparrows in a zoo, Smitha did not know what to say. Nostalgia filled her as she remembered how the chirping of the tiny brown birds outside her room meant it was morning--the time to leave bed, how she would feed the tiny feathered birds bits of biscuits in the evening while doing her homework or keep a bowl of water in the balcony from which they drank during summers. And, years later her daughter is asking if she can find a sparrow in a zoo!
We might not have realised but like tigers, elephants, vultures hose sparrows are also being wiped out, or have they already been wiped out? When was the last time you saw a sparrow on your window? Their chirpy sound is rarely heard today and their absence, small as it may seem is, is becoming noticeable, albeit a bit delayed.
So, what happened to these once everywhere-seen-birds?
Telangana State Pollution Control Board says drastic change in our lifestyle and loss of habitat have resulted in house sparrows becoming endangered. It is in this regard that the world celebrates World Sparrow Day every year on March 20.
Where art thou?
Reasons for the decline of sparrow population can be cited as
- Non availability of insects: Young sparrows are on an insect diet for the first 15 days of their life.
- Microwave pollution: Yes our mobile phones are killing these tiny creatures.
- Lack of food: Unlike a few decades ago when women cleaned grains leaving birds to pick on the left over , today our food is packaged.
- Lack of nesting sites: Switch in our habitat, from individual houses to boxes-styled apartments with glass or aluminium composite exterior walls offer sparrows no nooks and crannies for nesting.
- Extensive use of pesticides has also resulted in poisoning of sparrows
Sensitising citizens: What can you do?
- Create awareness on the issue
- Habitat conservation by providing water and food regularly. Broken rice or bajra can be filled into the scientifically designed feeders that can be hung in balconies or windows to welcome back
- By switching back to organic gardening, planting more hedges and putting up nest boxes for house sparrows
Exclusively for Summer
- It is summer and like us birds too need water. So, put earthen bowls, plastics or metal containers with water in your balcony or any open space.
- Do clean the bowl every day without using chemicals or soaps.
- The bowls should not be more than three inches deep, birds and insects can drown in too much water. Let a few twigs float in water, insects roost while they sip.
And for other animals...
As per the protocol, the Nehru Zoological Park management has taken up precautionary measures for the upcoming hot summer to protect the animals from heat in the display enclosure as well as in the night enclosures. As many as 25 air coolers had been placed in the enclosures for monkeys, jaguar, white tiger, cheetah, royal Bengal Tiger and lion. Tunga grass has been placed over the roof of the enclosures and khas tatthi and gunny bags cover the sides. These will; be watered at the regular intervals to maintain cool temperatures. Fogger ( mist falling sprinklers) have been placed at the birds and the reptiles enclosures. Further, 180-degrees-revolving sprinklers have also been placed in all the animal enclosures to keep the soil will be wet and cool . In terms of diet, seasonal fruits and those with high content of water will; also be inducted. Vitamin C supplements like Glucon-D and Electrol powder will be to the animals.