While the number of sparrows is dwindling in some parts of the city, a few citizens are taking initiatives to bring back the birds, which used to be a common sight in most homes.
On Tuesday, as the city observed World Sparrow Day, Dr Vijay Sangole, 60, a resident of Chedda Nagar in Chembur had reason to cheer.
At his previous residence in Pestom Sagar, Chembur (west), Dr Sangole had noticed how the sparrow population had dwindled over the years. Being a nature lover and a citizen activist, Dr Sangole and a few of his friends used feeder boxes and nesting boxes to attract sparrows at Pestom Sagar Nana-Nani Park. But their efforts did not work.
Last year, Dr Sangole shifted to Chedda Nagar, Chembur, and spotted a handful of sparrows in the area. Along with other residents of his building, Deep Co-operative Housing Society, Dr Sangole undertook efforts to ensure that the sparrows did not disappear.
“We undertook plantation programmes around each of the buildings in the society. The sustained plantation and maintenance has helped the sparrow population thrive here. We specifically planted trees such as the Jungle Flame, which attract insects and helps in feeding the birds,” said Shanta Ramachandra, a resident of Deep building.
The residents’ efforts have resulted in a flock of around 30 to 40 sparrows making their housing society their home. They take shade in the Jungle Flame trees (Ixora coccinea) inside the building premises.
“I had read in newspapers that sparrows have fewer places to nest these days and finding food too had become difficult for them. Hence, we started feeding the sparrows with grains in the morning and also placed water jars near the trees,” said Dr Sangole.
A few years back, residents of Chedda Nagar had formed a citizens’ association to increase the green cover in the area. According to conservationists, planting of native trees and increasing soil content around gardens help sparrows thrive.
“Sparrows need soil for mating and courtship. The males play in the soil to attract the females. Since concrete structures have reduced open grounds, the sparrows have turned away from urban residencies. Trees such as the Jungle Flame help the sparrows hide from predators and they rest inside the tree when the heat increases,” said Anand Pendharkar, ecologist, Sprouts, an environmental non-government organisation.
“Their presence is a sign of vitality in the environment of the city, so we must conserve its habitat,” Dr Sangole added.