Shimla, March 20 (IANS) A forum comprising bird watchers is working to save house sparrows and other small birds from extinction in this Himachal Pradesh capital.
‘On World Sparrow Day (Sunday), we have launched a campaign to create awareness about the sharp decline in the number of sparrows and other small birds in the town,’ Somesh Goyal, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer associated with forum Himachal Birds, told IANS.
He said the programme would mainly focus on building public opinion for conservation of small birds, especially house sparrows. The forum will install 40 artificial nests in Shimla’s parks and open spaces to enable the birds breed.
A small plump brownish bird, which is a widely distributed species in most parts of Europe and Asia, the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) has drastically disappeared from urban areas across the country. Flocks of the sparrow, which were a common sight till a few years ago, are now rarely seen.
M.R. Kaundal, retired government employee who settled in Shimla since 1945, said that earlier there was a good population of sparrows in the town. ‘Now it’s rarely seen. But there is alarming rise in the number of pigeons.’
Ornithologists attribute a number of reasons to this phenomenon. These include lack of nesting sites, use of pesticides and non-availability of food.
Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) environmentalist Mohammed E. Dilawar, who is based in Nashik, said the decline in the sparrow population is also due to lack of holes for nesting in modern houses.
BNHS director Asad Rahmani told IANS over phone from Mumbai that this year’s theme is ‘Chirp for the Sparrow, Tweet for the Sparrow’. The main event was held in Bengaluru in Wipro campus.
‘Starting on World Sparrow Day, BNHS and Nashik-based Nature Forever Society will intensify their efforts to create awareness about the sharp decline in the numbers of sparrows and other small birds across India,’ he said.
Last year, the first World House Sparrow Day (now called World Sparrow Day) was launched in New Delhi.
‘Today’s common species are tomorrow’s threatened species, if timely conservation measures are not initiated,’ Rahmani warned.