Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

March 2011
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NATURE AND ENVIRONMENT

Chirp, Chirp! Save Our Sparrows
A Staff Writer
World Sparrow Day falls on March 20, 2011. This little bird’s population has dwindled in cities and this is a cause of worry.

The Nature Forever Society (NFS) has decided to launch Project SOS or ‘Save Our Sparrows’ by distributing 52,000 bird feeders to citizens and organisations across the country.
India’s well-known sparrow man, Mohammed Dilawar of the NFS says the feeders, to be distributed free-of-cost in association with Burhani Foundation (India), could be installed in homes, open yards, balconies and even office premises.
Feeders have proved to be the best medium of saving the diminutive bird, whose dwindling population, especially in cities, has become a cause of worry.
The NFS has lined up a series of events to promote conservation of sparrows. Among them will be the photography competition, to be held in collaboration with Bangalore Photography Workshop. Anyone can participate in this competition by sending to NFS, pictures of common birds taken on a regular digital camera and even mobile cameras.
Why house sparrows have declined?
Lack of insect food Research done in the UK by Dr. Kate Vincent pointed out that the lack of insect food was one of the main causes of decline of house sparrows. The young ones of house sparrows feed exclusively on an insect diet for the first 15 days of their life. The lack of insects in their surroundings will lead to an increase in the mortality rate of young ones and, ultimately, a decline in their numbers.
We should plant native trees which attract insects, all of which are part of the natural eco-system. We should stop using chemical pesticides and fertilizers in our gardens and use organic manure instead.
Today, our gardens are full of exotic plants which make them green deserts in the urban landscape. Not only do these green deserts require more toxic fertilizers, they kill beneficial insects and micro organisms, leading to food shortage for birds. These plants also require more water, putting a strain on our scarce resources. Apart from being good to look at, they are of no use to the environment. We should instead plant more of native plants which will attract birds.
Lack of food
House sparrows are finding it difficult to find food as our lifestyle has changed dramatically. It is now a rare sight to find women sitting outside the house and cleaning grains because people have switched over to packed grains and flours bought at malls.
We should feed the sparrows by providing a year-round supply of grains. The grains can be filled in feeders which not only prevent the wastage of grains, but are also hygienic. Avoid feeding birds stale, salty and oily leftover food. Bread only acts as a filler and has little nutritional value. Grains like wheat should not be fed to the sparrows. Instead, feed house sparrows broken rice or rice in the summer and bajra (pearl millet) year-round.
Vanishing nesting sites Sparrows struggle to find adequate nesting sites in today’s matchbox houses. These buildings have glass or aluminum composite exterior of walls which offer no place for nesting.
While constructing new buildings, care should be taken that nesting sites are provided to house sparrows. In buildings or homes where no natural nesting places exist, we should adopt nest boxes for sparrows. This will help the house sparrow raise a family.
Microwave pollution; The advent of cell phones has brought in thousands of towers in the urban landscapes. Research in Spain proved that the microwaves released from these towers are harmful to house sparrows and the increase in the concentration of microwaves leads to decrease in house sparrow populations.
It is next to impossible to stop the people from using mobiles. We need to wait for some other technology that replaces cell phones sans its harmful implications for the environment.
(Nature Forever Society 17, Row House Gayatri Nagar Opp. Siddharth Hotel Nashik Pune Road. Nashik - 422011 Maharashtra, India, Mobile: 9420001820, Email: info@natureforever.org)