World Sparrow Day: Facts about our feathered friends and why they are disappearing

Once found in huge numbers across the world, the sparrow is slowly making its way to the endangered list.

World Sparrow Day: Facts about our feathered friends and why they are disappearing (Representational image)

New Delhi: House sparrows – birds which once marked their presence with sweet chirping sounds are now rarely spotted in Delhi.

On World Sparrow Day, experts have cited reduction in urban nesting spaces as the reason behind the disappearing species.

They have also said that the presence of the blue rock pigeon is taking over the sparrows’ nesting areas as well.

March 20th is a day designated to celebrate house sparrows. Ever since the threat to their population is growing at an alarming rate, the Nature Forever Society of India in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation (France) and numerous other national and international organisations across the world took a step toward taking this international initiative.
Adopted as the state bird of Delhi in 2012, house sparrows can be easily recognized because they live very close to humans. This small bird originates from North Africa, but it has been successfully introduced to North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Once found in huge numbers across the world, the small bird is slowly making its way to the endangered list.

According to experts, it is hard to estimate the numbers left in the city, but most sparrows have shifted to the outskirts of Delhi.

Since, birds, animals and human beings need to co-exist in this world, we bring you a few interesting facts about house sparrows. Read on.

  • Males and female house sparrows can be easily distinguished by the feather coloration: males have reddish backs and a black bib, while females have brown backs with stripes.
  • Sparrows are actually carnivores (meat-eaters) by nature, but they have slowly changed their eating habits ever since they learned to live close to people. Sparrows primarily eat moths and other small insects, but they can also eat seed, berries and fruit.
  • Sparrows usually fly at the speed of 24 miles per hour. When needed (in the case of danger), they can accelerate to the speed of 31 miles per hour.
  • Although sparrows do not belong to the group of water birds, they can swim very fast to escape from the predators.
  • Sparrows are allegedly monogamous. Recent genetic analysis showed that only small percent of eggs contains DNA of both parents (in other words: both male and female are prone to infidelity).
  • Sparrows can survive between 4 and 5 years in the wild.
  • Sparrows are very social and they live in colonies called flocks.
  • House sparrows are non-migratory, but urban flocks traditionally moved to the countryside in the late summer to feed on the ripening grain fields.
  • Attesting to the fact that it is not a water bird, the House Sparrow bathes itself in dust instead. It normally throws soil and dust over itself as though it were taking a bath in water.
  • House Sparrows are said to eat anything. According to the Handbook of Texas Online, they are known to eat over 830 different foods!

World Sparrow Day is celebrated to promote the need for conserving the most common avian as well as the urban biodiversity. Saving the house sparrow and its habitat will also help save the biodiversity that is in sync with the habitat of the house sparrows.