Experts unravel mystery behind decline of house sparrows
While there’s no study to establish the decline of house sparrows in Uttarakhand, scientists and wildlife experts have based their claim on the basis of lack of sighting of these birds around human habitation. Changing lifestyle, modern agricultural practices and development are significant reasons behind the decline.dehradun Updated: Mar 20, 2015 15:28 IST
While there’s no study to establish the decline of house sparrows in Uttarakhand, scientists and wildlife experts have based their claim on the basis of lack of sighting of these birds around human habitation. Changing lifestyle, modern agricultural practices and development are significant reasons behind the decline.
House sparrow (Passer domesticus) that was once common in human habitation has declined in the last two decades, claim experts. The chirpy, little bird was once found in abundance especially in cities like Dehradun, Haridwar
Dhananjai Mohan, chief conservator of forest (CCF) wildlife who also served as an expert at Dehradun based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for seven years, said, “Human beings are to be blamed for the decline of house sparrow. Our cemented houses have left no place for the species, that were earlier seen in the wooden and thatch roofed houses.”
In order to make extensive information on the ecology and conservation of house sparrow, WII in 2012 started a study based on ‘ecology, conservation, and status of house sparrow in Uttarakhand’.
According to the reference paper, ‘population explosion, industrial revolution, modern agricultural practices and modern building pattern have reduced this species to a very thin population in rural as well as urban areas. Predator birds and domestic cats have also been held responsible for the decline of the birds. Due to the fast decline in its number, the house sparrow has been included in the ‘Birds of Conservation Concern Red List.’
The study was conducted in the ten tehsils of four districts of state from December 2012-May 2013. The districts covered were Dehradun (Tyuni Chakrata, Dehradun and Rishikesh), Bageshwar (Bageshwar and Kapkot), Rudraprayag and Chamoli district.
Out of 35 transects studied during this period, house sparrow were seen in 24 transects. A transect is a path along which one counts and records occurrences of the species of study.
The flock size varied from place to place — 30 house sparrows were seen in Rishikesh, and at some places only one could be found. Maximum number of house sparrows was found in Rishikesh tehsil and the minimum in Rudraprayag. Artificial nest boxes were installed in different areas of Dehradun and Chamoli where natural nesting sites were not found. Out of which, some boxes were seen occupied by house sparrows
“House Sparrow has declined in state. There’s no doubt about that fact. But, there are ways available and we can preserve its population. Installing artificial nest boxes have shown encouraging results,” said VP Uniyal, WII scientist, who has undertaken the study.
Action and Research for Conservation in Himalayas (ARCH), a non government organisation, launched ‘House Sparrow Nest Box Adoption’ in 2007. Till date, they have distributed 1200 boxes claiming to provide nesting sites to over 2000 individuals.
Prateek Panwar, founder trustee ARCH said, “In Uttarakhand, the population of house sparrow has declined drastically. It is absolutely necessary to provide nesting sites to this species, as it is important for the ecosystem.”