In tech town, men tweet, birds don’t

The communication revolution is said to be the cause for the dwindling bird life, especially sparrows, in the city. They say the radiation emitted by the mobile towers has something to do with

Published: 28th February 2012 08:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:05 PM   |  A+A-

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The communication revolution is said to be the cause for the dwindling bird life, especially sparrows, in the city. They say the radiation emitted by the mobile towers has something to do with their disappearance. But it’s not just the mobile phones, but advancements in landline technology too  seem to have played some part in this phenomenon. The landlines may not emit radiation, but the birds’ lifestyle seems to have been affected by the advent of fibre optic technology.

But the birds never used phones of any kind, so what difference does technology make to their singing and winging? As the mobile ringtones got louder, over the years, the once ubiquitous steel grey telephone poles have quietly disappeared, without being noticed.

The thin aluminium wires running from the insulators on one telephone pole to the other, with little electricity passing through them, made perfect perches for the city’s winged residents. It was common to see flocks of sparrows and swallows perch on the lines, gossiping, quarrelling and singing loudly. They’d all suddenly fly away in a swarm, with shrill chirps and return in no time, fluttering, gliding and still chirping.

But now, the optical fibres that have been laid below our potholed roads have made these hollow aluminium telephone poles with their characteristic rivets and the telephone lines, redundant and have all been uprooted. Of course, nobody asked the birds before removing them, their loud chirping notwithstanding. So with these poles, went the little nests in the junction boxes on the poles and the lines, which nurtured the birds’ social life.

Besides the birds, the city’s beasts too seem to have lost something when the poles were removed. The buffalo now has to look for trees that are disappearing too, to get rid of the itch on his side and the mongrel has fewer poles on which to empty his bladder.

Birds tolerated one particular kind of ringing, where bird lovers and watchers attached metal rings on their talons to study their movements. But the ringing today from phones seems to have had a wringing effect on the feathered friends.

And with the communications technology advancing rapidly, the town’s citizens not only seem to have got more and more talktime, but they also seem to have taken over the tweeting from their bird buddies, who have now fallen silent.

— vijaysimha@newindianexpress.com

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