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The question ‘Where have all the sparrows gone?’ increasingly seems to be part of nostalgic childhood conversations! The rate at which this common bird is vanishing is mind-boggling.

House sparrow: Image Source - www.lazyhollow.com; Dan Sudia

House sparrow: Image Source - http://www.lazyhollow.com; Dan Sudia

Sparrow numbers the world over, including India are dwindling. Couple of decades back, these birds were a common sight.  Today, rapid construction activities, and pollution (air and chemical) have contributed to the dwindling numbers. Concrete jungles are replacing trees and farmland. Open space has become a luxury these days. And if this was not enough, radiation from cell phone towers is also taking its toll on these birds.

In an attempt to save these birds, Dilawar Mohammed, an ornithologist with Bombay Natural History Society launched  Nature Forever Society . The society intends to create awareness of our birds. It also provides information on bird habitat protection and nature education.  Dilawar started the ‘Box Initiative’  – putting up little wooden boxes (Only recycled wood is used, keeping conservation in mind.) on trees, which birds could use as nests. He then put small feeders with grains, and insects to provide food for the birds. Today, Dilawar makes these boxes and feeders on a bigger scale and are available for purchase through the website.

Dilawar calls sparrows as  ‘nature’s bio-indicators.’

“They have lived with human beings for thousands of centuries, like squirrels, mynahs, tailorbirds and sunbirds – you don’t find them in the jungles. If there is a significant shift in their population, its an alarm signal for us.”

Tips on helping the birds are listed on the website.  By doing our bit , we all can help reverse the decline, not only of sparrows, but also our other ‘feathered companions’ who are victims of  ‘modern development’.