Three years ago, Nasik conservationist Mohammed Dilawar declared March 20 as World Sparrow Day to raise awareness about the falling number of sparrows in the world. Although there are no authoritative studies to confirm the drop in sparrow sightings, birdwatchers and naturalists agree that the numbers aren’t as healthy as before. There are many culprits: fewer open spaces and nesting places, and fewer insects for chicks to feed on. This fortnight, Dilawar’s organization Nature Forever Society will mark World Sparrow Day by organizing lectures and an exhibition on the 24 sparrow species in the world at the Maharashtra Nature Park. “The idea is to make sparrows a part of your family by installing nest boxes and bird feeders,” said. Dilawar, whose organisation sells nest boxes (www.natureforever.org, R309-749).
Sparrow’s Shelter and Chitrapatang Art Workshop will mark the day either by flying a 30-foot-wide cane model of a sparrow filled with hydrogen balloons or attaching origami birds with “Save the sparrow” written in 14 languages to 2,000 balloons. “Wherever the paper falls, people will be able to read the message,” said Pramod Mane, the founder of Sparrow’s Shelter, which also sells nest boxes (www.sparrowshelter.org, R500-1,000). The organisation will also invite Mumbaiites to paint the sparrow in different styles on a wall opposite the Maharashtra Nature Park.
The best way to protect sparrows is to provide feeders or nest boxes. Dilawar’s advice is to stay away from shelters that are brightly coloured or fitted with perches, since these attract predators. The box must be made from sturdy material like plywood, added Anand Pendharkar, founder of the Society of Promotion of Research, Outdoors, Urbanity, Training and Social Welfare (www.sprouts.co.in).
By Nergish Sunavala on March 16 2012 6.32am