Saturday 24 May 2014

House Sparrows (சிட்டுக் குருவிகள்)

One of my favorite bed time stories starts as "Once there was a sparrow in a village...(ஒரே ஒரு ஊருலே ஒரு சிட்டுக் குருவி இருந்துதாம்...)". House sparrows used to be here, there and everywhere. In my parental home, they used to come in and go out of the verandah as they pleased through the grill opening. Once they even built a nest behind the photograph which was hung at an angle to the wall. Quite a few sparrows lived in our garden. They used to sit on the window sill and eat the grains we throw there.

During our visits to our grand parents house, we children were often given the task of guarding the grains or 'vadam' (வடாம்) left to dry on the terrace. Our job is to drive away the crows and sparrows from eating the precious spread! There was a family of sparrows living on the terrace shed, under which all the old and discarded items were stored. Sparrows had a beautiful nest built in one corner and it was a pleasure watching them fly here and thereto get food. Drying grains on the terrace would make the sparrows very happy and it would be a real task for us to keep them away. Busy with playing, we would invariably slip up on our guard duty, earning the deep displeasure of the elders for letting the sparrows get the better of us!

Even here in Chennai, sparrows used to visit my flat, perch on the balcony grill and live on the surrounding trees. Sometimes they would zoom into the house and fly out after circling around the rooms. Over the years, their visitation became less frequent and to my great dismay, eventually stopped altogether.

Where are the sparrows? Recently I read a couple of news paper articles, which stated that sparrows are disappearing from our cities. Let us face it. In India, the house sparrow population is on the decline. One of the major reasons being electromagnetic radiation from the mobile phones and mobile towers! It is said that the birds lose their flying capacity due to radiation exposure. Modern methods of construction and urban development with landscaped gardens leave no place for the birds to build nests or feed. Excessive use of chemicals and pesticides in farming, is affecting these lovely birds. Hence, they either migrate to better habitat or worse, they become extinct. Thanks to technological development!!!

Is there a way out? Experts recommend installation of bird feeders and bird baths outside our houses, and growing indigenous plants instead of imported ones.

I have not seen sparrows for some years now, until last fortnight, a couple of them zoomed past when I opened the door on a Sunny morning. I my pleasant surprise, I found them perching on the wild lemon tree just outside my bed room. I have seen them sitting on my window sill on and off. However, to my utter disappointment, they were not spotted for nearly a week. Alas! they have gone missing once again. These days, whenever I open my door or windows, I look out expectantly for their arrival. I try to hear their noise when I wake up in the morning. After all, there is always HOPE! 

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