Kamala Kelkar | Sparrows returning to Delhi

Sparrows returning to Delhi

By: Kamala Kelkar

For the students of Mount Abu Public School in Rohini, spotting house sparrows was a novelty they had heard about from their elders.

The students built 13 “feeding stations” on the school campus two months ago. These have hand-made nests of coconut shells and clay pots filled with water and grains, and students say they can now relate to their parents’ memories of sparrows.

Principal Jyoti Arora said she had made it her personal mission to revive the sparrow population at Mount Abu Public School because she misses seeing them during her morning walks. “I remember seeing them all the time as a child. It’s so hard to find a sparrow these days,” she says.

Shristi Verma, a class X student, is among 24 student volunteers who monitor the feeding stations and organise events to raise awareness about the issue. “We are delighted to see our efforts pay off,” he says.

For the past two years, the Delhi government has increased bird monitoring in schools and encouraged rehabilitation through NGOs that work with children, such as Eco Roots Foundation and Wildlife Rescue.

According to a bird house teacher in Eco Roots Foundation, they work with about 150 schools in Delhi, of which about 100 schools claim that there has been a 30 per cent increase in sighting of house sparrows in the past year.

The next step, according to Eco Roots Foundation, is to extend sparrow rehabilitation projects to resident welfare associations (RWA). Once they establish the places where rehabilitation efforts are successful, they plan to start a census, a Forest official said.

Bombay Natural History Society will soon release results of a national study on sparrows, requested by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. It is expected to paint a better picture of the reasons behind the decrease in sparrows’ population. The House sparrow was named Delhi’s state bird by Chief Minster Sheila Dikshit in August, due to its decreasing population.