The House Sparrow may not be as threatened as was believed, a new analysis has found.(HT file photo)
The House Sparrow may not be as threatened as was believed, a new analysis has found.(HT file photo)

House Sparrow population may not be declining, finds new research

State of India’s Birds 2000, a report published on Monday, suggests that the population of House Sparrow has been fairly stable during the past 25 years.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Jayashree Nandi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 17, 2020 01:57 PM IST

The House Sparrow, which was thought to be disappearing, may not be as threatened as was believed, a new analysis has found.

State of India’s Birds 2000, a report published on Monday, is based on 10 million observations contributed by over 15,500 birdwatchers since 2000, to an online portal called eBird. It suggests that the population of House Sparrow has been fairly stable during the past 25 years. Data from the six metro cities of India --Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai, indicates a gradual decline in their abundance in urban centres.

“Extremely large range of the species across the country and lack of evidence for either long-term or current countrywide decline results in it (House Sparrows) being classified as of low conservation concern,” the report states. The Feral Pigeon and Peafowls, which dominate the urban landscape in many cities, have also increased in numbers in the past 25 years.

However, the state of environment and bird habitats is worrisome as the analysis reveals a large scale decline in a majority of species. The report made assessments of 867 bird species based on three indicators, which include long-term trend of observations over 25 years, current annual trend over the past five years and distribution or range size.

Of the 261 species for which long-term trends are available, 52% have declined since 2000, with 22% declining strongly. In all, 43% of species showed a long-term trend that was stable and 5% showed an increasing trend.

The groups that show the greatest decline are raptors, migratory shorebirds, and habitat specialists. Other groups include White-rumped Vulture, Richard’s Pipit, Indian Vulture, Large-billed Leaf Warbler, Pacific Golden Plover and Curlew Sandpiper. The overall decline in species calls for a need of research into its cause, and action to protect them, the report said.

“The report highlights common species that are declining sharply; these need to be conserved before their numbers reduce further,” said R Jayapal of Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History.

Species that show an increasing trend in the past 25 years include Rosy Starling, Feral Pigeon, Glossy Ibis, Plain Prinia, Ashy Prinia, Indian Peafowl.

The report has been compiled by ten research and conservation organisations, which include Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS).

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