ICAR survey reveals sharp decline in Sparrow population

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The friendly House Sparrow (Passer Domesticus) is gradually heading towards extinction and if immediate stringent measures were not put into place, the small harmless bird which once was a member of every household from dawn to dusk, would soon be found just in books.

The country witnessed different awareness programs being organized on Wednesday to mark the World Sparrow Day for highlighting and making sure that the bird was saved from getting extinct.

Survey projects sharp decline

According to a recent study by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) the house Sparrow population in Andhra Pradesh had reduced up to 88% while in other states of Gujarat, Kerala, Rajasthan it’s count had dropped by 20%. In coastal areas of India also the bird’s population had tremendously dropped to 70 to 80%.

In recent years, revealed the ICAR survey report, ornithologists had observed sharp decline in house sparrow population across India in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad. In parts of Thiruvananthapuram, (Kerala), they had disappeared without a trace by 2003. In Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) recent surveys reveal the complete absence of House sparrows in several sites since 2013.

A survey organized by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) along with the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests also indicated that the Hyderabad-Ranga Reddy zone witnessed a steep drop in the number of house sparrows from 2005 onwards.

There are 26 species of sparrows found across the world, out of which 5 are found in India. According to ornithologists, there has been a significant decline in the number of sparrows in the last few years. The sparrow has become a species of conservation concern in Europe and has been included in the Red List in Britain.

Nature Forever Society celebrated first World Sparrow Day in India in 2009

The motto of celebrating World Sparrow Day is to convey the message of conservation of the House sparrow and other common birds. The occasion also aims to bring bird lovers and nature enthusiasts on a common platform to begin a movement to save flora and fauna of the world.

Sparrow declared State Bird

On 15 August 2012, the then Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit had announced sparrow as the ‘State Bird’. Similarly, in January 2013, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also declared the humble sparrow as the State Bird of Bihar.

Common measures to save the bird

Efforts should be made to provide an alternative nesting site for the House Sparrow by providing artificial nests like wooden nest boxes, shoes boxes or earthen pots as nests, which would provide the chirpy bird an alternative to live in. Also, providing water in pans on roof tops and other open areas during summers besides food grains could help it survive odd conditions.

Benefits of Sparrow

Sparrows being a part of the ecosystem, contributes immensely in maintaining its balance. They contribute in improving the environment by feeding on insects called alpha and cutworms, which are harmful to crops. The sparrow mainly eats millet, paddy, coconut, ripe rice grains and insects.

China ordered killing of sparrow under ‘The Four Pests Campaign’

The idea for the Four Pests Campaign was proposed in 1958 as part of the Great Leap Forward, a large-scale economic and social campaign initiated by the Chinese government. Under this cleanliness campaign, orders were issued to destroy rats, mosquitoes, flies and sparrows. Having been accused of eating excessive crops, Sparrow was declared an ‘enemy of the people’.

After the announcement, there was a competition across the country to kill sparrows. The more sparrows one killed, the more incentive was received. The method of killing the sparrow was as strange and cruel. Hundreds of Chinese would play drums, bang plates and utensils, stand around the trees, and the sensitive birds would get frightened and would not even be able to sit down to rest and would even fall down and die.

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