Decline of house sparrows not a cause of concern anymore

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‘Number of sparrows has increased in the urban landscape’

By: Hiranya Barman

Guwahati, April 2: Dearth of sparrow census in Assam has made it difficult for environmentalists to measure the exact count of the species.

As many as five species of sparrows are found in India. These are House Sparrow (passer domesticus), Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis), Sind Sparrow (Passer pyrrhonotus), Russet Sparrow (Passer rutilans), and Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus). Of these, House Sparrows (passer domesticus) and Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) are abundant in the state.

Although there is no sparrow census available, bird watchers feel that the number of sparrows has increased in the urban landscape.

“Sparrow population in the city is not dwindling anymore. Gradual conservation efforts are indeed bearing fruit. However, lack of census of the species in Guwahati has made it difficult for bird watchers to generate a figure,” Help earth NGO environmentalist Jayaditya Purkhayastha told ‘The Hills Times’.

“Generally number counting of sparrows is done when the census of birds is compiled. Census is normally done for important species. If one notices a healthy strength of a flock of sparrows one can say that the population index is currently stable. The boxes that were hung for the species to breed or build their nests are currently occupied after the first rainfall of the season. It indicates that they are ready for breeding and the current period is the breeding season for sparrows and Oriental Magpie Robins (Dohikotora in Assamese),” Early Bird NGO president and birdwatcher Moloy Baruah said.

Moreover, the State of India’s Birds 2020 report published on Monday stated that despite the widespread notion that the House Sparrow is declining in India, the analysis presented in this report suggests that the species has been fairly stable overall during the past 25 years. Data from the six largest metro cities (Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai) do indicate a gradual decline in their abundance in urban centres. However, the extremely large range of the species across the country, and the lack of evidence of either long-term or current countrywide decline results in it being classified as a Low Conservation Concern.

“Reasons for the suspected decline of this species are a matter of much speculation and are believed to include decreasing insect population (a key part of the diet of sparrow chicks) and paucity of suitable nesting sites. The popular theory that radiation from mobile phone towers is a factor is not supported by current evidence,” the report stated.

The State of India’s Birds report is the first comprehensive assessment of the distribution range, trends in abundance, and conservation status for most of the bird species that regularly appear in India.

The report published by it is based on 10 million observations contributed by over 15,500 birdwatchers since 2000, to an online portal called eBird.


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