They are so tiny it’s easy to miss them in the city’s bustle, but now, one of the busiest spots in the capital is being dedicated to them. The Connemara Market, Palayam, will be designated the state’s first ‘Sparrow Park’ as part of a campaign to conserve house sparrows.
The project, a joint initiative of the city-based Writers’ and Nature Lovers’ Forum and the Forest Department, will be launched at the market on May 7. Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan will be present.
The forum and the department also launched a two-day survey of sparrows in the city on Monday. ‘’We have found that 43 of the 50 nests that we had installed at the Connemara Market back in 2011 are now occupied. That is one reason why the market is going to be declared a ‘Sparrow Park’,’’ said C Rahim, convener of the Writers’ and Nature Lovers’ Forum. The project had received much support from the traders, who were enthusiastic in caring for the small birds.
On Monday, the survey also covered Attakulangara and the Chalai Market, where the Forest Department had, in association with the Travancore Natural History Association, installed some nests on March 20, World Sparrow Day.
At Attakulangara, several natural habitats were found, and amusingly, most of them were built inside the housings of the rolling shutters of shops.
‘’We have been encouraging the birds to nest here for the past five-six years,’’ said Anil, who runs at a grain and spices shop at Attakulangara.
‘’Sparrows are usually found in market places. But one factor that is driving them away is that grain and other food materials come packed. It’s becoming harder for the birds to find food,’’ a Forest Department official said.
The triangular nests installed by the department on March 20 doesn’t seem to be attracting the birds, apparently as the floor is made of wire mesh. The department now plans to modify them.
Chalai market is one other spot in the city where sparrows are found in large numbers. Here too, the traders and the headload workers have been supporting the initiative.
Like Al Amin, who runs the Swad Fresh Juice at Chalai. He has three nests inside his shop, two made of discarded Aquafina and Frooty cartons and one, a triangular baseboard nest donated by the Forest Department.
But sparrow conservation at Chalai is also fraught with problems - mostly in the form of cats, mongooses and quarrelsome drongos. At least that was the issue on Sabapathy Kovil Road where man-made nests had been installed last March, according to the headload workers.