Yesterday was World Sparrow Day and today I’m going to deviate from my usual postings dedicated to this common, yet dwindling bird species. Sparrows have always been a ubiquitous bird that has easily adapted to life in the cities.
However the increase of urban structures, lack of trees, increase in noise, pollution, and temperature has driven sparrows out of our lives. For many, it has been years since morning began with the pleasant chirp of this small bird.
In the Indian city of Bangalore, there have been cyclathons to raise awareness about the issue and to bring back the sparrow. In several Indian cities, NGOs and student-groups have been providing nesting boxes to ensure that sparrow numbers do not decline further.
The UK has seen one of the biggest declines in sparrow populations in recent times. Since the sparrow has co-evolved over millenia with humans, this rapid decline is a cause for alarm. Not only is it an indication of environmental degradation but it also a warning bell to alert us on human health.
In conservation, it is often the bigger animals that get talked about and get the most attention – tigers, orangutans, whales etc. However the decimation of commonly found species like sparrows, is an even more accurate barometer of the changing world and how differences in pollution and temperature is affecting the world around us.
The common sparrow has become the mascot for the preservation of urban biodiversity much like the honeybee. As a seed-eater, the sparrow provides valuable ecosystem services like dispersion of seeds. Urban sparrows also eat various insects like flies, mosquitoes, and midges, thereby keeping pest numbers in check.
Sparrow population still thrive in numerous urban areas, however conservationists are focusing on boosting their numbers through public engagement efforts. This is also a great opportunity for companies to engage in urban wildlife conservation through their CSR initiatives.
Conservation need not be restricted to national parks, forests and other areas. Urban conservation is an often overlooked but equally important area. Not only are urban species more resilient, they also provide a great opportunity to get the public involved through education and volunteer opportunities.
Hopefully through sustained efforts sparrow numbers can be boosted and the situation will not be so drastic next year.
Image Credit: Akhila Vijayaraghavan ©