Kolkata: A survey has confirmed for the first time the widely believed theory that rapid urbanisation has taken a toll on the population of tiny sparrows in the cities all over the country.
The Bombay Natural History Society with support from the Ministry of Environment and Forests had launched an online survey last year inviting inputs from bird lovers to document the decline in population and distribution of sparrows.
Titled "Citizen Sparrow", the survey found that the once-ubiquitous sparrows are now seen in fewer places than in 2005.
"Where they are still found, the numbers are lower than earlier observed and fewer nests are seen as well. This suggests sparrows have indeed declined and the low number of nests might mean that they are continuing to decline," said the report.
Sparrows are the most widely-distributed birds in the world. They nest in urban or rural settings wherever they find human habitation.
Stating that factors such as types of human dwellings, eating and living habits of the people and land-use could be impacting the availability of shelter and food for the sparrows, the report indicates that the lifestyles of people of rural and semi-urban areas seem to be more conducive for the survival of the birds.
More people reported sparrows in towns and villages thanin big cities.
Moreover, there were twice as many reports of large flocks of sparrows being seen in towns and villages as in cities.
Among the cities, Mumbai came out on top of the sparrow charts, with many more people reporting sparrow presence than they did from Bengaluru and Chennai, where a much larger percentage of participants said that the bird was not found at all in their localities.
Coimbatore and Pune were next after Mumbai. Hyderabad and Delhi were intermediate in reports of sparrow sighting.
According to the report, sparrows seem to be doing comparatively better in the northeastern states such as Assam and central India including Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
More than 5700 bird lovers from across the country had participated in the online survey on www.Citizensparrow.In.
Interestingly, the oldest participant was a 91-year-old and the youngest a seven, both from Pune.