Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bird Tales - Sparrow and its Sorrow.

Anu wrote this and on seeing a comment from Deepak, I was pushed to write this post today.

In 3rd class when they teach us about ecosystems - they do not tell us that feeding sparrows is the way to keep the system in place. Lack of our education system, but I will deal with that in another post.

I googled on sparrows and their disappearance and it seems to be the most saddening fact I have ever come across in recent times. Sparrows, to many Indians are a part of childhood memories. It is a memory to think of grandparent's homes and sparrows hitching on trees. It is another to think of how the grocery store had sparrows lingering all around. When we shifted to AGS Colony, Velachery - one of the first things I fell in love with was to wake up to the sounds of birds. My apartment literally had birds chirping to its glory as a alarm clock. 6 years later, I dont find any even if I dutifully keep pots of water and sprinkle grains all over the garden.

Much has been attributed to its decline in India. Sparrow is a bio indicator. In short, it tells us how poorly we have managed our systems. Grocers no longer have gunny bags to store grains, so nothing seeps for birds to feast on. We no longer have trees, so there is no place for them to build nests. A recent article I read says, it takes about 7 hours to build a nest - that we shamelessly stomp off in minutes. On the 20th of March, Delhi started to celebrate World Sparrow Day. Sheila Dixit has commissioned nesting boxes all over the city ( Read more here ). It is another story that a fellow blogger says crows and ravens use these boxes.

England has risen to this issue, and has a detailed study on sparrows and their decline here . In chennai, one of the prime reasons for the disappearence is cellphone signals. More reasons to cut on our calls. Thanks to deepak, I have some gyaan to share now. Sparrow's feathers act as dielectric receptors. So ,when two cellphone beams intersect ( very common nowdays with the rise in towers we have in the city) sending the same signal wave at the same time, it creates a standing wave. When birds are flying, they tend to hit on this temporary standing wave, they become totally disoriented and start flying as a group to the ground.Their natural altimeter and sense of direction gets destroyed.

Quoting - According to Dr S. Vijayan, Director of the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology andNatural History (SACON),“A number of studies has been conducted to find out the relationship between the increase in electromagnetic waves and the decrease in the number of sparrows. A positive correlation has been found between them.” “There have been studies in Spain
which showed that sparrows disappear from cities where electromagnetic contamination is very heavy,”Dr vijjayan added

Sparrows are found to rapidly disappearing from places where new towers are being installed. It is opined that these signals affect their central nervous system, thus paralyzing them to fly further. Most times, they fall down and die or become immobile. As I was writing this post, I began to wonder if it would make sense to cage them at home. I am not a advocate of caging birds, but looks like the sparrow could be saved this way. I am still unsure of the kind of radiations inside a home, or the way it is feasible.

What we can do is possibly reduce calls in the open, and follow some simple stuff like leaving water, feeding grains and if possible, keeping a wooden nest. To know more on this - read here.

I am a lot disturbed on this post. Not only because of the irresponsibility we do, or the kind of foot print we leave but on the posterity of the world around us.



  1. Wow, that was some information. Now, in retrospect, it makes sense.

    I get a terrible headache when I speak on cellphones (I always use the speakerphone when feasible or keep the instrument 2-3 inches away from my ear otherwise). That disorientation is a fact!

    But cutting down on calls is not going to happen! Even if people do, the towers are here to stay.

  2. @Deepak- This post only leaves more questions, than gives answers. There is no real solution, a probable option is to use a alternate technology to receive signals, may be.

    @Anu - Ta:-)

  3. Second Deepak. That is some information.


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