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The need to save birds

For the past few years the population of House Sparrows has been declining rapidly. While being able to survive in wild easily enough, House Sparrows have well-casted their life style in accordance with human towns and cities and lived among us as our friendly next-door neighbours or forced visitor-cum-residents in our own house as far back as we can remember. Not only is it easier for them to find good food sources around humans but it is also much secure to built nests away from wild predators in human houses where humans either do not bother with them or befriend with them. And, yet even after having sparrows around us they don’t seem to be as happy as they used be in their halcyon days.

There was a time when watching huge flock of sparrows performing sky acrobatics in evenings was a favorite pass-time of folks in villages, towns and cities. But, now all we get to see is a few sparrows tweeting meekly behind bushes and branches. In fact, it’s not only House Sparrows that we should be concerned about; our common Indian birds don’t seem to be as common anymore as they used to be. Why is it so? Their decline can’t be attributed to a single factor. While, the natural habitats of birds are destroyed at large scale every year to construct roads, apartments and the like, it’s also said that the increasing use of mobile networks hugely affect birds. The excessive use of pesticides in crop fields affects birds too, because crops act as an important food source to many species. Thus, it’s important to not only identify the causes that challenge the survival of different species of birds, but also to come up with solutions that people can apply at both individual as well community level.

For example, setting up bird feeder in gardens, parks, balconies and such places can attract different species of birds. Bird feeders may become their prime food source and play an important role to their survival. Similarly, bird baths can be set-up in localities for birds to have access to water easily in scorching summer. People can also put ‘ghada’ and such for medium-sized birds such as Common Pigeons, Spotted Doves or they can build or buy wooden nest-boxes that come in variety of sizes for House Sparrows, Rose-ringed parakeets, Common Pigeons etc. In public places such as clear-grounds, people can litter rice grains or bread crumbs for birds. There are many, many other ways to help birds that we can come up with, if only we are keen enough to save them and watch them soar sky in huge flocks again.

–Fatima Humaira

Fatima can be reached at her blog http://pakshiblog.wordpress.com/

Sparrow sitting on the croutons plant in the rain

Sparrows in my Kharghar home

Today the sparrow’s population has come down drastically and in Mumbai, city side they have become a rare sight. There are groups in Facebook for saving the sparrows and everyone is posting their comments but I doubt if there’s any outcome. I used to live in Anushakti Nagar before and there we hardly got to see the sparrows. Crows and Mynas were abundant and so were monkeys. Crows and monkeys destroy the sparrow’s nest and eat the eggs. Hence the sparrows are rare in areas where these are more. When we shifted to Kharghar a few months back we were thrilled to see many sparrows.

Sparrow in our garden

Sparrow in our gard

A sparrow and it’s family have their nest in the first floor of our building.

Sparrow in our building

Sparrow in our building

Every morning we wake up to the chirping of sparrows and the purple-rumped sunbird. Occasionally, the red-whiskered bulbul visits our house.

A red whiskered or red cheeked bulbul on our window

A red whiskered or red cheeked bulbul on our window

Nowadays during the monsoon it has become a regular visitor. It sits outside our window and knocks on it with its beak, keeps dashing against it and playing.  Since we have brown tinted glass on our window (we can see from inside but outsiders can’t see inside during daytime) the bulbul sees its reflection in the glass and pecks at it. It’s very cute to watch!

A pair of Bulbuls in our garden

A pair of Bulbuls in our garden

A pair of bulbuls outside our window

A pair of bulbuls outside our window

The sunbird always sits on the cloths line outside our window and preens and it’s fun to watch it. Initially I didn’t know which bird it was. When I posted the photos in Facebook group Andalucia Bird Society it was identified as purple crested Sunbird by Mr. Peter Jones and Mr. Berge. Mr. Kanwar Singh of Indian Birds group mentioned that it was purple rumped Sunbird.

Sunbird drinking nectar in the garden

Sunbird drinking nectar in the garden

The purple crested or purple rumped Sunbird has a light yellow belly( lower body) and It’s upper body is dark brown. It has a hint of blue at the crown. It has a thin, long, curved beak. It makes sound from the throat without opening it’s beak.

Sunbird on our clothesline

Sunbird on our clothesline

We keep water in a gas trolley and a small mug for the birds in our garden. Ours is a ground floor flat. Sparrows, sun-birds, pigeons, etc.drink water and bathe in the gas trolley since it’s shallow like a bath tub.

Husband-wife pair relaxing in water bath

Husband-wife pair relaxing in water bath

Watching these birds cheers the mind and makes you forget your worries. They sit on the tulsi plant in groups.  

Sparrow eating tulsi seeds from the tulsi plant

Sparrow eating tulsi seeds from the tulsi plant

sparrows in our garden

sparrows in our garden

Navi Mumbai and especially Kharghar is truly a bird watcher’s paradise!

In monsoons these sparrows sit on the window grill under the comfort of the sunshade and protect themselves from the rain. They warm themselves by puffing themselves up. They look like furry little balls.

Sparrows near the 'Tulasi Maadam' on a rainy day

Sparrows near the ‘Tulasi Maadam’ on a rainy day

Sparrow sitting on the croutons plant in the rain

Sparrow sitting on the croutons plant in the rain

All citizens should keep water for the birds in summer. Wooden shelters should be placed in nook or corner of the house and building so that sparrows can build their nest. One can also take a cardboard box, fill it with cotton and twigs and place it on the attic or drying area or verandah – any place which is accessible to sparrows. Spary neem based preparations and avoid chemical pesticides. These harm the sparrow’s reproductive system when it eats the seeds. I request everyone to do their bit to save the house sparrows.

Post has been published from the author’s blog with due permission from the author: VijayaLaxmi Narayanan. All images are a copyright of the author.