Doing their bit to save city’s disappearing sparrows | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Doing their bit to save city’s disappearing sparrows

Since the age of 11, Alifiya Biviji has enjoyed feeding birds in the garden near her house in Mazagaon. On Sunday, the 14-year-old animal lover, who already cares for two tortoises, hung a bird feeder outside her window hoping to do her bit to save the city’s disappearing sparrows.

mumbai Updated: Mar 07, 2011 00:51 IST
Unisha Lohade

Since the age of 11, Alifiya Biviji has enjoyed feeding birds in the garden near her house in Mazagaon. On Sunday, the 14-year-old animal lover, who already cares for two tortoises, hung a bird feeder outside her window hoping to do her bit to save the city’s disappearing sparrows.

Biviji was given the plastic bird feeder for free by the Burhani Foundation India (BFI), a Dawoodi Bohra community organisation, which launched its Save Our Sparrows (SOS) project on Sunday.

Hoping to help conserve the depleting sparrow population in the country, the Foundation is also aiming to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records by distributing 42,500 bird feeders in 260 centres across the country.

The project was flagged off to celebrate the 100th birthday of Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin, the community’s spiritual head. A total of 11,600 bird feeders distributed in Mumbai.

“We also plan to distribute around 7,000 feeders in Europe, east Africa and the Middle East. The distribution will take place through the Bohra community network but the applicants will not be restricted to the community,” said Shaikh Abdeali Bhanpurawala, secretary, BFI.

Bhanpurawala said that almost Rs 40 lakh was spent on the project.

“Sparrows have been dwindling mainly due to lack of food and nesting sites. Modern buildings do not provide crevices and nooks for the sparrow to nest. Also, sparrow fledglings feed exclusively on insects for the first 15 days,” said Mohammed Dilawar, an ornithologist, who has partnered with Burhani Foundation India for the project.

“The insect population is on the decline due to lack of native plants in urban areas.”

Dilawar added that conservation in India is happening in isolation and that there is a need to involve the common man. “Distributing the bird feeders will directly give the solution for conservation in the hands of the people,” he added.

The bird feeders are designed to store food grains such as bajra and broken rice and can be hung in home balconies, office windows and building compounds.

They are an easy and clean source of food for the birds.

“One feeder can feed up to 100 sparrows and the device can last for almost eight years,” said Dilawar.

“Once the birds identify this source of food, they will keep coming back and bring other birds as well. It’s like National Geographic playing live outside your window,” he added.