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

How the Sparrow got it’s black patches

When I was in school we used to have a textbook on fables and folk lore in English as a part of our syllabus (CBSE Board). Has anyone wondered why the male sparrow has black patch on the chest, throat and eyes? As I click the photos of the sparrow which I have uploaded in my album on Facebook, I recollect this story.

According to a fable, when God created the sparrows both male and the female looked the same. They married and lived happily together. After sometime the female sparrow got pregnant and she laid the eggs after few months. The male sparrow would search for food and bring it to her. When the eggs hatched both the husband and wife were delighted to see their little babies. The wife said , “Dear, our children are so beautiful. I have a small wish. I want to apply kajal in my eyes so that when the babies open their eyes they should see how beautiful their mother is.” The male sparrow wanted to fulfill his lovely wife’s wish and searched all places for the kajal. But it was not available with anyone.

In the evening when he was returning disheartened the koel asked him what was the matter. He explained his predicament to the Koel. The koel took some of the black from his body and applied it on the sparrow’s throat, neck and eyes. The sparrow thanked him and flew off to his nest. His wife quickly took some of the black and applied it in her eyes. The babies opened their eyes and the sparrows rejoiced.

Later the sparrow went to wash off the black colour from his body but it didn’t go. It became permanent. That’s the reason the male sparrow has black patches while the female sparrow looks like it has applied kajal.

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. 


A Baby Bird’s Day Out

A 12 year old shares his lesson on saving Sparrow nestling from gruesome injury.

Hi, my name is Shreyans N Vyas, I am 12 and ½ years old. I study in VIII Std in Anand Niketan School, Shilaj, Ahmedabad.

It was around 4.30 pm on June 1, 2012 in the hot summer afternoon of Ahmedabad city. I was getting ready to go out to play cricket with my friends in my locality. I was ready with my cricket bat and ball. As soon as I got out of my house, I heard a sound as if something has fallen from a height on to the hard stone surface of my compound. I saw a small nestling squealing on the ground. Seeing this, I immediately understood that the baby bird has fallen off from its nest in the huge Aasopalav Tree in my compound.  I immediately rushed towards it. It was in a lot of pain, seeing this I called up all of my friends.

We brought a soft cloth and kept the baby on it as the floor was very hot and there were many insects like red and black ants which could attack the nestling. Then I bought a packet of Parle G Biscuits and tried to feed the baby. I also brought cold water from my house and tried to feed it with a help of small spoon. One of my friends, brought grains (jawardana) but the baby was not taking it.

Nilesh Vyas with bird

Nilesh with the rescued nestling.

Then we thought that if we move away from the bird and keep an eye on it then its mother would come down and would take the baby away. As we were watching from a little distance several birds of its kind came down and gathered around the baby. They just could not do anything; they simply took away the biscuits pieces and grains but could not take away the baby bird. I realized that the birds are not able to take the baby to its nest; there was fear of nestling being eaten up by some stray animals like cats and dogs or rats and rodents or predator birds.

I then thought to get some help from some organization that works for birds & other animals. I started searching for the phone numbers of such organizations. I got numbers of several organizations in Ahmedabad like Jivdaya Trust, Panjarapole trust and tried to contact them. They told me to wait for some time.

By that time, it was around 6 o’clock in the evening.  Meanwhile, we kept on taking care of the little baby, my father advised us to keep the baby in cardboard box or open plastic container in some safe place. Then, I found on a small Sparrow House at my friend’s home, there was a slogan “Save Sparrow” and a mobile 9890087988 written on it.  I immediately, called up that number and to my surprise I got wonderful response from the other side. He was Mr Oan Dilawar from Nashik who told me that he was from Nature Forever Society. He took a keen interest and provided me with great help. In the process, he got me numbers of several organizations and other nature lovers. I kept on calling all such contacts to get some immediate help.

But since it was almost 9 PM, everyone was either on the way back to their homes. One person named Mr. Kartik whose number (9824025045) I got from Mr. Oan picked up my phone. He gave me a mobile number and asked me to call that number at 10 AM the next day. I took the baby inside my house and kept it in a small plastic container and kept it on my study table to keep it safe from insects, ants, cats and rats etc. Next morning when I woke up at around 7.30 am, I saw the baby was already awake and chirping. I thought it must be hungry and thirsty. I touched the nesting gently and it opened its small tiny beak. That’s how I got the idea on how to feed it. I started feeding the baby with water, glucose water, bread and grains. It looked happy and fine.

Then I went for swimming classes and retuned back at around 10 AM. Immediately, I called up the number (9842061794) that Mr. Kartik gave me last night. It was Mr Gaurav Shah on the line; I talked to him as requested for the help. He told me that he will be sending two boys to fetch the nesting for a proper care and treatment. Two people came at around 11.15 am and took away the baby bird. They told me that they will take it to Panjarapole (Jivdaya Trust) for treatment and further care.

I felt a great relief and satisfaction on saving a small baby bird and a little grief of departing from such lovely small little friend. I was very well supported by my friend Malav, Nilay, Aarsh and others. I am very thankful to them also. I am thankful to Mr Oan Dilawar from Nature Forever Society for the guidance and getting us in contact with the right people who rescued the baby bird.

3rd JUNE 2012,                                                                                                                     -SHREYANS VYAS, Ahmedabad.


Sparrows and me

Written by Estelle Sarkar

I lived with my parents and three sisters in a place called Gyogon which was a few miles away from Yangon (Rangoon) in Myanmar (Burma). We lived in a beautiful teak wood house built on stilts with a lovely flower garden and a vegetable garden. A few mango trees, a tall tamarind tree, papaya and the most delicious ‘martaban’ banana plants grew in our garden.

We lived with nature. Snakes, scorpions, lizards fell on our shoulders causing utter chaos while we studied at night. During the monsoons, menacing leeches hung on to us. We must have loved birds because we were alert trying to save the sparrow nestlings when they fell from their nests. They were featherless creatures and helpless. My elder sister and I used to pick them up, wrap them in cotton wool and take them into the kitchen to keep them warm by the fire. They were fed with drops of sugar water and we hoped that they would survive but alas, these little ones would just slip away from this world.

After shedding our tears we arranged for their burial. Mud was dug up behind our Mali’s quarters and the little one would be laid to rest on leaves covered with mud and flower petals. The Mali cooperated with us in burying the sparrows.

Weeks later, we four children would decide to see the condition of the buried bird as we were told that they became dust. How disappointed we were when on digging up the buried ground, all we saw were red ants! This infuriated the Mali who threatened to report us to my father but of course, he was kind enough not to do so.

Sadly, the war with Japan started and leaving this beautiful house we fled to India in February 1942 to start life anew.

Years have gone by but memories do not fade and now as an octogenarian, I have started feeding sparrows, doves and bulbuls who sit on the trees in my little garden waiting to be fed. Sixteen sparrows come along with at least eight doves, grey in colour with yellow specks on their wings. They feed on bird seed and chapatti. The bulbuls feed on ripe banana although once in a while they enjoy other tit-bits. They drink water, bathe and fly away. Black and white magpie robins come for a bath and then fly off. These birds live in perfect harmony. I watch the fledglings being fed by their mother and also see on bully dove chase away the other doves but it never attacks the sparrows! Tiny honey-suckers who make the most noise, swing on garland-like flowers of a creeper sipping the nectar. With three pale honey-suckers come a dark blue one, a loner.

From early morning till 4 pm these beautiful birds are my companions and these harmless little friends keep the lady who helps me, busy replenishing their food dishes.

We have always had birds in and around our home but my thanks for this love of feeding the birds goes to my daughter Benita who loves animals and birds and feeds a variety of them.

I also thank Mr Mohammed Dilawar for making me a member of Nature Forever Society.

May God bless you all for looking after these innocent, helpless birds.