by a Thinker, Sailor, Blogger, Irreverent Guy from Madras

Chirp for the Sparrow, Tweet for the Sparrow


Today, March 20th is the annual World Sparrow Day.  Strangely, in 2014, the World Sparrow Day seems to have been a very low key affair, with very few write-ups in newspapers or mags.  In contrast the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) organized a public awareness program in 2011 aptly titled ‘Chirp for the Sparrow, Tweet for the Sparrow’.

Mumbai, especially Andheri, where I lived for more than half a decade, had a lively presence of sparrows.  Looking at the sparrows arguing over a fistful of rice grains on a Sunday morning over newspapers and coffee, made me feel like the Earth was at peace.

Chennai, in my younger days had a chattering population of house sparrows.  Though we suffered an occasional sparrow nest in our own house, it was my uncle’s home, which was a veritable apartment complex for the sparrows.  At any given time, there used to be 3 or 4 sparrow families, chirping, tweeting, arguing and messing up the books, tables and almirahs.  House sparrows are part and parcel of ever green memories of those carefree years.

Some years later, as a teen, I spent a year or so in Delhi.  There, in front of the house I was living as a tenant, (probably still there) was a False Asoka (Polyalthia longifolia or நெட்டிலிங்கம் in Tamil) tree.  It hosted a vast population of sparrows - must have been hundreds of them in that tree alone.  As it happened, my roommate bought an air rifle for a few hundred rupees, and the rest is not hard to guess.  Both of us did what two teens let loose with an air gun would do - shot about a hundred sparrows, a few dozen common mynah and other birds, and some pigeons.

The few scolding and even threats by neighborhood elders did not faze us, and we would have eventually cleaned up all the sparrows on that tree, but for monkeying around, literally, by the roomie.  In a fit of enthusiasm, on one Sunday, he took a pot shot at the troop of rhesus monkeys who trundled over.  For the next hour, we sat in discomfort and wonder, as the monkeys repeatedly assaulted the windows and door of that roof top accommodation.  Strangely, the neighbors who must have had a grandstand view of the monkey trouble, did not happen to notice our predicament with the screaming monkeys!

To cut the long story short, a few bananas hurriedly showed through the ventilator mollified the mad monkeys for the day.  And more banana tributes on Tuesdays and Saturdays kept us safe from further attention.  In any case, that was the end of my month long adventure with air guns!

When I came back to Chennai, the cell phones and their towers had a stranglehold on the city.  To add to the misery were the bland apartment complexes without nook and corners for the sparrows to nest.  

Compounding the misery is the ever growing population of the rats of the sky - the pigeons.  Thus, it has been rare to sight a sparrow, though an occasional chirp still sends me searching for one.

On this World Sparrow Day, I resolve to do something about it.  Hang a few nest boxes on the guava tree in the backyard, to try and entice the few sparrows which are still chirping around my neighborhood, into making a home in there.



A sight like this would make me feel like a million dollars!

bharat-rughani-sparrow-nest

(Photo courtesy Bharat Rughani - Bird Conservation Society Porbandar FB page)

Let us see whether the chirpers and tweeters will be enticed, and make me feel once again, that the world is at peace!


7 comments:

  1. A very good effort, close to my heart. Thanks for this

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  3. Good work.,

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  4. Thanks, but it is not yet complete. Only finished 2 vols. Plus I want to make it into a Timeline / tagged Google Map - so that it runs like a story instead of all jumbled up. :-D

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  5. Great work.. I hope to go some of these places atleast once in my life, this map will come handy then.. Ungaluku nandri :)

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  6. You're welcome. Do come back, as I intend to complete all the 5 vols. before new year. Also some interesting facts on places, which came to light while attempting the plot. :-D

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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