CHENNAI: In an effort to save house sparrows, which are now rarely seen in the city, naturalists from Ilampiraigal- an NGO, conducted a rally oon the Besant Nagar beach on Sunday.
Over 50 people gathered at the beach around noon, holding placards that read ‘Bring back our lost sparrows’.
They also distributed around 100 nest boxes and millets to the public so that they could help the birds breed, and feed them.
“The main problem lies with the architecture,” said Ameer Rehman, who heads the organisation. “These sparrows have evolved with us humans, but with modern engineering, there is no space left for these birds to build nests or lay eggs. This, and the increasing number of mobile towers are the main reasons that these birds are endangered,” he added. House sparrows used to be the most commonly found bird species in cities. These tiny brown-grey birds are usually found in groups of eight to 10 and known to nest in buildings, crevices and holes in walls, besides birdhouses and nest boxes set up by people. These birds feed mostly on grains and seeds, but during the breeding season adults feed their young ones with insects.
“I remember the time when a sparrow had built its nest in our balcony. I would keep grains and water for it in a small box. It was so pleasant to hear their chirps. This was 10 years ago,” said Josephine Kumari, an Arts student of the Women’s Christian College. Reasons for the decline in their population in the city include radiation from cellphone towers, consumption of grains containing pesticides and destruction of their natural habitat, and naturalists feel that this is the scenario in almost every other city.
With this new initiative, naturalists are also planning to conduct a survey of these species. “We have the details of the people to whom we have given the nest boxes. We shall be following up with them and collecting details on the sparrows accordingly,” said Ameer.