On a widespread bluish toned Monday when a brief spell of sunshine was camouflaged by clouds that’s when mild drizzle appeared, I pulled my chair in the veranda to enjoy the scenic beauty and the musky, earthy petrichor. I sat with a book but wasn’t able to focus much rather I started observing nature and its grandeur, the sight made me step into the realm of nostalgia. I was retrospecting to the past times at my former home where my mornings unfurled with the symphony and twitters of little sparrows. The sound that made my mornings special, there was an unbridled joy of seeing so many sparrows together.
Some time back House sparrows seemed everywhere. Nesting on the eaves of our dwellings, nibbling on the grains, twittering on our windows all of this now seems like a bygone era. Over the past few years, sparrows have been forsaking human company in urban zones, preferring suburban areas and the outskirts of the city. Due to their absolute alienation, sparrows were included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened species. Since 2010, March 20 has been embraced as World Sparrow Day. In 2012, Delhi made the House sparrow as its ‘state bird’.
Nowadays, I investigate a ton of feathered creatures but fail to locate the little cheerful companion that was a part of my childhood. One of the most pervasive bird has now disappeared. Illuminating the steady decline is the loss of habitat due to rapid urbanization, high levels of clamour and air contamination, emission from microwave towers, excessive usage of insecticides has caused the birds to become an endangered species.
The architectural designs of the townhouses built by the older generations had Clay roof tiles, eaves and protruding balconies. The structures with interstices and overhanging cliffs made it easier for the birds to nest. The lawns were stuffed with bushes, blossoms and boundary walls were often green fences – all very sparrow-friendly. However, the contemporary infrastructure includes shiny glimmering towers with glass panels thereby making no room for ventilators where once the sparrows nested. In the past, air conditioning was only in hotels and shopping centres but now everyone has it, so homeowners don’t think much about the ventilation. The sleek and minimalistic designs do not have the charm of old times.
It’s been said aptly by the French poet Anatole France that “Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”. The dwindling number of sparrows fills me with melancholy. Till now there’s no concrete plan for the conservation of sparrows but scaling few initiatives like hanging bird feeder, artificial nest in one’s lawns, can be a constructive step to this cause.