Results of Survey on Sparrows a Cause for Worry - The New Indian Express

Results of Survey on Sparrows a Cause for Worry

Published: 20th March 2014 10:44 AM

Last Updated: 20th March 2014 10:44 AM

For a bird that is supposed to be ubiquitous, the house sparrow is incredibly hard to find these days. Ask the team of amateur bird-watchers who, under guidance from WWF-Kerala, conducted a three-day survey in the city hunting for these cheery chirpers.

 Carried out ahead of the World Sparrow Day which falls on March 20, the team was able to count only around 127 of these birds from six selected sites over the course of three days. The six sites - Palayam-Connemara market, Chalai, market, Museum and Zoo compound, Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station, Central KSRTC terminal and East Fort bus terminal - were selected as places where the chances of seeing the birds were high.

 From the team’s observations, both the Palayam-Connemara market and Chalai market had the highest numbers of birds. In the former, they observed an average of 25 birds during the three days, while Chalai had between 30 and 70.

 “What was shocking to note was that both the Central Railway Station and KSRTC bus terminal, where you would expect to see them by the dozens, had one or two sparrows that we saw,” said A K Sivakumar, senior education officer at WWF-Kerala. “The single bird we found in the Central Railway Station, and that too on the final day, was simply chirping sitting on an open window of the canteen. Though we searched a lot, no pairs or groups could be found.”

Another upsetting factor for the team was that they could not find a single sparrow within the Museum - Zoo premises even though the area is considered as the major green lung of the city.

 On the other hand, some birds were observed near the FCI godown at Valiyathura and surrounding regions. Eighteen birds were counted nesting in the air-holes of two houses near Kochuthoppu, and four others in an abandoned house near Shangumugham beach. The bird nests installed by the Corporation a few years ago also serve as nesting and roosting places, the team reported, as do the traditional ‘angadi kadas’ of Chalai.

 So what could be the possible reasons for the disappearance of these once familiar beings?

The reduction in availability of food and shelter, the rise of the supermarket culture and subsequent loss of access to food grains transported in sacks, the increasing number of concrete modern dwellings replacing the old mud-tiled roof structures, the loss of urban vegetation etc are all being cited as possibilities.

 Installing bird nests, bird feeders and bird baths in these sites will be the most effective action for improving the situation of these tiny birds and others, the survey team suggested in its report.

The survey teams were led by Jaichand Johnson, Neha Waikar, Kiran R C, Rajalekshmi Sukumaran, Sayujya Anand and A K Sivakumar.

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