Sparrows, Our Favourite Birds Are Disappearing From Pune

Do you remember your childhood? Well, then you undoubtedly must be recalling those early mornings when you woke up to chirping sparrows. Remember filling trays of water and grains for the birds and watching them enjoy in your homes? Ever wondered, why you don’t fill your child’s tiny hands nowadays with grains to feed the sparrows and squirrels that used to come on the balcony? That’s because they don’t visit you anymore. In recent times, the sparrows from Pune are disappearing drastically.

As today’s kids will grow up, here’s why they might not speak of stories about sparrows anymore.

1. Modern buildings are replacing our Wadas.

Earlier, Pune had a lot of Wadas– old mansions, which were built of brick and limestone. There used to be several cracks and cavities in the wall that would act like niches for the sparrows to build their nests on. There were also court-yards in the center where people would grow trees. So the huge mango tree was where sparrows used to make nests and generations of our family saw the generations of sparrows grow.

Today, our homes are made of posh cemented buildings that leave no cracks or gaps for sparrows to build nests. Most of the times, people shoo away birds because their droppings spoil the flooring which is made of marble or glass. Had it been like olden times, where the ground was not cemented, droppings would have been able to dissolve in the mud.

2. Our grains are packed and stored in air-tight packaging.

Earlier, we used to store grains in jute bags (Boris) which made it possible for the sparrows to nibble on and get some food. However, today, we get refined grains in plastic, air-tight packaging and store it in containers inside our homes.

There is no sieving that happens in a household; we buy refined grains so there is no fall out that the birds could feed on.

3. Mobile towers are increasing day by day.

When we talk about cell phone radiations, we only think about our heart health. But these emissions affect the sparrows and other birds on a much higher level. These could damage their nervous system, immune system and can even cause problems in their navigation sensors.

4. Our garbage has no limit.

When we don’t feed our birds, they rely on the food that is thrown away on the ground. Today, our garbage bins in the city are over flooding and spreading on the ground. We don’t even segregate the waste. So sparrows end up eating things that either harm their body or they choke up to toxic waste and die. To add to it, some people cut nails and throw them on the floor or outside their windows, thinking it is food. Birds would actually die choking on those nails.

5. Lastly, the amount of felling of trees is way higher than the plantation.

As per a 2014 IBN Times report, an unofficial data suggested that around three lakh trees were felled down for the Windmill project in a village of Pune. (The official data shows much fewer figures- 28,000.) This not only led to a severe landslide but also deforestation. If we cut down trees to make buildings and other beneficiaries for mankind, where will the birds live? Imagine being helplessly dragged out of your own house to see aliens making rockets.

Thus, we at Nelda, a non-profit organisation, aim to aid plantation of 1 billion trees in the next 25 years. It will not only make the city greener and eco-friendly but will also provide livelihood to birds and animals. You too can Help Pune Grow More Trees Through Nelda.

How can you at an individual level, bring the sparrows back?

1. Firstly, get a nest box and a feeder. Attach it to your balcony or window or a garden if you can.

2. Plant a few trees if you have space for it to create a sparrow friendly environment.

3. Place small trays of water and bird baths in your windows to invite the sparrows.

4. Always segregate garbage and do not throw nails, hair, pins or needles directly. Always wrap it in a newspaper and dispose of it.  At a personal level, spread the word and encourage more people to invest in nest boxes. It is time we adopt our sparrows because they need to be taken care of.

5. In case you see injured or unwell sparrows or other birds, get in touch with rescuers. Here is the Pune Municipal Office’s TOLL-FREE number: 1800 1030 222. They rescue all birds and animals.

The following song is written by Swanand Kirkire as an initiative to spread awareness about preventing female infanticide, where little birds personify girls. According to us, this song ironically stands equally relevant for our sparrows in today’s world.

O Ri Chiraiya

Nanhi si chidiya

Angnaa mein phir aaja re

Andhiyara hai ghana aur lahu se sana

Kirno ke tinke ambar se chunn ke

Angna mein phir aaja re

Humne tujhpe hazaro sitam hain kiye

Humne tujhpe jahaan bhar ke zulm kiye

Humne socha nahi

Tu jo ud jaayegi

Ye zameen tere bin sooni reh jaayegi

Kiske dum pe sajega angna mera…

So Punekars, take these small steps and encourage more people to take this initiative. It is our time to show how much we’ve missed our sparrows!

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