House sparrow, the state bird of Delhi, can now be seen at many places in the National Capital Region. According to experts and bird watchers, they have been witnessing the bird again in those places where they used to be seen a few years ago.
Although environmentalists and ornithologists cannot confirm that there has been an increase in their number, they are relieved to see the bird in areas such as Najafgarh, Dwarka, Gurgaon and Faridabad. In the Delhi Metro stations on the Blue Line and Yellow Line, these birds can be easily seen.
Dr Sumit Dookia, an ornithologist and professor at IP University, Dwarka, and his students have been observing the birds in Najafgarh Zone and Dwarka since 2010. According to him, the number of sparrows has increased in the last five years in the area. He told City Spidey, “We have been watching house sparrows every day in our campus and their number has increased here. In Najafgarh and in many places in Dwarka, such as in sectors 9, 10 and 3, and at Dwarka Metro stations in sectors 12, 13 and 14, the sparrows can be seen in good numbers. Based on how many we have been seeing these days, we can say that their number has increased.”
Birdwatchers and ornithologists say that their numbers decreased sharply in the previous decade and they almost disappeared from those places where they were once seen in good numbers, such as JNU, Aravali and areas of wilderness. But for the last five years, they are being seen again.
Dr Yogesh Parashar, a birdwatcher and a member of Indian Birding Association, who has been observing the birds for over four decades, said, “About 20 to 30 years ago, house sparrows were good in number. But there was a sudden sharp decline in their number due to reckless urbanisation and town planning. So in the period from 2005 to 2010, the topic of house sparrows was hot as they were not seen in Delhi.”
“But in the last few years, these birds have been seen in at least those places where they used to be seen earlier. As there is no data regarding their numbers, it cannot be confirmed that their number has increased. But now their visibility shows that they may have increased in number in the peripheral areas of Delhi. There is also the possibility that as people have become more aware and sensitive about this bird, they are observing it sharply,” added Parashar.
Faiyaz Khudsar, an eminent wild life biologist, said that the sparrows have adopted some of the places in Delhi as their habitat. “Sparrows choose predator-free places, and places with open and clear visibility for their habitat. Sparrows are there in Delhi’s peripheral areas, which are not too urbanised and are still a wilderness to some extent.”
He added, “The house sparrow’s scientific name is Passer Domesticus and its name shows the importance of domestic environment and its surroundings for them. There are grasses such as paricuma and seteria in the vacant lands where these birds have nests. The grasses help them in making their nests. Such plants and grasses are also host to insects, such as the moth and the butterfly, which provide protein for the survival of their nestlings. Sparrows never lose their breeding potential. This type of adoption of nesting sites and breeding shows that even in urban areas they have great breeding potential if the environment is favourable.”