Sparrows are not chirpping anymore

Today is World Sparrow Day

Sparrows were part of my childhood. They would fearlessly land on our terrace and pick at the grain dried by my mother. Their cheeping would be a background music to all our activities.

The sparrows have disappeared from our lives. The number of common house sparrow in existence today is unknown. The changes in their natural habitats has depleted their numbers. A family of sparrows built their nest in my son’s apartment on the 13th floor. There was a sunshade above a tiny balcony that was enclosed with a steel grill. They had made a nest in a narrow space above the grill and the flat above. My granddaughter’s mornings and the milk drinking ritual was accomplished with the help of these sparrows and the parrots that would shriek and flit around.

The common house sparrow’s disappearance is a universal phenomenon. In London there was a huge hue and cry a few years ago when the population of sparrows fell drastically to about 85%. In India it is just sporadically reported and has not ruffled any feathers other than amongst the scientists and naturalists.

One reason maybe the size of these little birds. Tigers and peacocks, turtles and deer are more exotic. Sparrows are small fry after all.Their ubiquitous presence was taken for granted.

One of the reasons for their depletion seems to be the introduction of unleaded petrol. Denis Summers-Smith, expert on sparrows says that the unleaded petrol uses Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) as an anti-knocking agent which kills small insects. Adult sparrows can survive without insects in their diet but they need the  Grain was easily available with women cleaning, drying and scattering grain in their terraces and backyards. Store houses and godowns had lots of grain scattered around. With apartments this habit is gone and supermarket packets of food stuffs need no drying.

The sparrow also featured in stories and poems told to kids. Today Dora and Scooby Doo and Pokemon are more familiar figures than sparrows. Today the sight of a sparrow is rare and a child may not even recognize it.


About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest is acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays.
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3 Responses to Sparrows are not chirpping anymore

  1. gaelikaa says:

    Well now! I’ve had my WordPress phase too, and I found it great in some ways. I try experiments with my WP blog, and it gives me pleasure when I get time.

    A lovely post Padmini. Sparrows are significant too. Jesus tells us in the Bible that the Father knows when a sparrow falls. I believe that.



  2. Barath Rajgopaul; says:

    Padmini, Dennis Summers-Smith is well known to mew and he used to be the tribology expert in ICI when I was the Plant Engineer in the Ketone Alcohol Plant.He and I had to travel to dusseldorf once to buy a replacement demag Compressor when he announced to methat he was also a leading world expert on the common household sparrow.The funny thing was that he had exactly the same mannerisms as the sparrow, he used to nod and peck at imaginary seeds just like a sparrow, so it is enchanting to hear you talk about him!!


    • padmum says:

      Amazingly small world! I am trying to get hold of the kuruvi story and the hay it stuck into its bottom to keep the payasam from coming out….it has a lot of ecological messages.


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