Chirping sounds of sparrows vanish from urban areas of ManipurIMPHAL | Mar 19
Absence of food, loss of nesting sites and architecturally modern buildings are leading to fast reduction of Eurasian Tree Sparrows (passer montanus) locally known as Sendrang in urban areas of the State. Since the last few years, sounds of sparrows chirping in the urban areas of Manipur are no longer heard. However, they can be still spotted in rural areas.
The sparrow is a species that is always found in an around human settlements and as it prefers to nest in manmade structures such as cavities in walls and traditional huts.
Years ago, chirping sounds could be heard in the morning amidst the fog during winter season, said a farmer who does not want to be named. In the morning around 4.30 to 5 am, chirping sounds of sparrow would awake the people with their pleasing sounds. “There were times when we used set nets to catch sparrows from vegetables fields and drying crops,” he said.
People from urban areas also came for catching sparrows at paddy fields, he further stated adding all those activities have stopped since the last 10 years.
Earlier in the days, sparrows used to build their nests at houses and huts with thatched roofs. Many nests would be there in and around these types of houses in Manipur, he stated.
But all these traditional huts and houses had been changed to modern houses without thatched roofs such as pucca building, he said. However, the change in construction of houses should not only be the reason because sparrows also build nests at wooden structures, he stated.
It is said that sparrows cannot be found in jungles, deserts or places where there are no human habitation. However, Eurasian Tree Sparrows can be still spotted in rural areas where architecturally modern buildings are less. Due to modern constructions which have no space for birds, they have been forced to move away from cities.
The buildings in urban modern areas have minimum outer projections, fewer holes and crevices. Moreover, dearth of food is another factor driving away house sparrows from urban areas. The practice of drying food grains in the Sun is less in urban areas compared to rural areas.
Common insects are also no longer found in cities due to rampant use of chemicals to kill pests. It might be said that due to increase in temperature, many more insects have started thriving but the particular insects which are preferred by sparrows have become extinct. It is said that sparrows need to find plenty of aphids and caterpillars to feed their young ones, especially in first few days after hatching. Eurasian Tree sparrows that used to be common sight till a few years ago is dwindling in numbers, there is no longer a commonplace occurrence now.
An article published in ‘Journal of Biodiversity and Endangered Species’ said that house sparrow is one of the endangered species of recent times. It has various roles to play in the urban environment and also helps to keep the ecological balance. The reasons for its declining numbers are many, such as lack of nesting places, lack of food and unwillingness of common man to coexist with it etc. on the whole, it is an alarm for all to take necessary steps for conserving the small bird.
Speaking to this IFP reporter, coordinator, Indian Bird Conservation Network, Manipur, RK Birjit said that there are 140 species of sparrows worldwide, five are in India and Two in Manipur. In Manipur, the population of not only sparrows but all common bird population is being reduced. Two species of sparrows found in Manipur are Eurasian tree sparrow (Passer Mountain) and Russet Sparrow (Passer Rutilans), he said.
He further said that there have beenconfusion in some articles regarding the identity of sparrows as it had been considered before that the sparrows nesting at homes are House Sparrows. However, those sparrow nesting in homes or huts are Eurasian Tree Sparrows, he clarified.
Among the two types sparrow, Eurasian tree sparrows are seen in rare occasions but Russet sparrows are no longer seen, he said. Reason for the decreasing population of such bird is changing of lifestyle, changing of straw huts with thatched roof to modern buildings etc. However, the reduction in population does not necessarily the species have become endangered. Special studies on sparrows are not yet done but monitoring for common birds had been done in Manipur, he stated.
Sometimes, Eurasian tree sparrows are seen sitting on electricity wire and sometimes on buildings crevices but less in numbers as compared to what it was seen few years back, he further said. In Manipur, no such records or data is available till date for such species of sparrows, he added.
However, conservation of sparrows needs attention and interest. The prime reason behind the reducing population of the species is yet to be ascertained though many have varying opinions.
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