Missing the sparrows in Bangalore

Today, March 20, is World Sparrow Day.

During my childhood in Bangalore in the 1970s-80s, sparrows were a part of our everyday life, much the way rock pigeons just merge with the high-rise landscape today. 

Scores of sparrows would be all over the backyard, chirping on the pomegranate and guava trees. Unafraid of humans, the sparrows hopped around on the ground whenever mom cleaned the rice, in expectation of falling grains. (Yes, the rice used to have stones that needed to be removed, and chaff that would blow away in the wind as the rice was tossed up and down on the “morram”.)    

My friends and I would spend time counting the males and females, that are easily distinguishable. One of our story books had a tale about why the male has black marks on its neck while the female does not. I couldn’t remember the story, but after searching the internet, found a blog post on this that can be read here.  

There were times when we would see the vagabond Tom cat sneakingly stalking the unsuspecting birds as they drank from the pond, and we would run to chase the fellow away with the satisfaction that we have saved them. 

It was not uncommon to see sparrow nests between the inner and outer layers of our house’s tiled roof. After the babies were out, and the nest abandoned, we’d be fascinated by the intricate construction and warmth that enabled the propagation of the species.  


House Sparrow – Male, Bandipur, May 2009 

Slowly, and rather surreptitiously, the sparrows vanished from Bangalore. Common people who may have hardly noticed their disappearance, would be reminded of them years later, only when they found the birds jump onto their tables at Bangalore’s Devanahalli airport. 

There are many theories about why the sparrows may have left Bangalore. Over the last few years, several efforts have been made to bring them back. Last year, Gubbi Labs complied a small book “Of House Sparrows and Human Settlements”, that gives the distribution of House Sparrows in Bangalore. The book can be read/ downloaded here.   

Sparrows have been conspicuous by their absence in the Puttenahalli Lake/ JP Nagar area. As urban house birds, the lake environment currently may not be conducive to house them. However, people in the neighbourhood can try to get them back into the area. To know how, please read here.   

In Mumbai north suburbs, where I currently live, sparrows are abundantly found, and I’m happy that the children around here share some of my childhood sparrow joys. Wish the same for Bangalore too.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Flamingo deaths in Navi Mumbai: A wake up call

Death of 39 flamingos after colliding with an aeroplane has brought attention to shrinking habitats and consequent risks to migratory birds.

On May 20, 2024, an Emirates airplane, descending to land at Mumbai’s Santacruz airport, collided with a flock of flamingos, causing significant damage to the aircraft and killing 39 flamingos. This incident underscores a critical and often overlooked aspect of aviation safety: the risk of bird strikes. News reports and investigations into the bird strike have revealed two primary causes: The high power lines running through the Thane creek flamingo sanctuary could have been responsible. These power lines, built at great heights, may have forced the flamingos to fly higher than usual, putting them in the path of the descending…

Similar Story

Saving Aarey: An environmentalist’s learnings from a Mumbai movement

In a video, Rishi Agarwal talks about his recently launched book on the Save Aarey movement, which tried hard but failed to get the Metro car shed out.

Two months ago, a report by Global Forest Watch, said that India had lost 2.33 million hectares of tree cover since 2000. Given the push for infrastructure development in the country and closer home in Mumbai, forests such as Aarey, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and wetlands and mangrove forests in Navi Mumbai are constantly at risk.   While successive governments promise afforestation in other areas as compensation, activists and citizens often find that the biodiversity and fragile ecological balance are lost forever. However, the argument that development at the cost of the environment is unavoidable, seems to be getting stronger. Those…