Sparrows: Revive the emotional connect
A little time and curiosity towards nature and its animals helps us to connect with their lifestyle and behavioural patterns, here the author speaks about the discovery of traits of the most common bird -the sparrow
Tweet tweet who’s there?
Sparrows at my window!
The most common bird that we usually see from our windows without doing any hard work is a house sparrow. The tiny little bird that loves human habitation more than woodlands, grasslands or deserts. The bird that got first place on my all-time bird watching list. House Sparrows may or may not be the most loved birds, but they unequivocallyare a part of our backyard bird watching experience.
I spent the last February watching two sparrows from my terrace, one of which is a breeding male (chunky full-breasted bird with a round head and a stout bill, they have whitish cheeks, a broad black bib and chestnut head with grey crown) and the other one is a female (they are a plain buffy-brown overall with dingy grey-brown underparts, their backs are noticeably striped with buff, black and brown). They had built their nest at one of the ventilators of my neighbour’s two-storey house. The ventilator aka their nest was clearly visible from my house’s terrace.
I spent each and every morning observing their (sparrow couple) behaviour. I used to start my observation from 5 am and I continued till 7 am and sometimes even 8 am when I saw there were many activities. During this one month time period, I recorded some known, unknown and unique facts about these birds.
House Sparrows love to hop rather than walk on the ground. I noticed that always it is the female sparrow who flies about a distance of about 50 meters to 100 meters to collect food (small grains and seeds) and small twigs or barks. The male sparrow most of the time participates in territorial fights. I have seen a maximum of five territorial fights with other sparrows coming from different locations. Another interesting thing that I figured out is that the male and the female do not participate in any fight with their neighbouring sparrows (there were three more ventilators where six sparrows were residing each ventilators having one male and one female sparrow). It is also interesting to note that neither the male nor the female leave their nest vacant. Whenever the male is not there, the female protects the nest and when the female is out to collect food or twigs the male is there to protect their nest. So these little birds aggressively protect a small territory just around their nesting site. But the parameter of protecting their nest solely depends on the activities of other sparrows and other birds invading their nest site except for their neighbouring sparrows. If the activity of other sparrows and other birds are less then both male and female leave their nest empty for around 4 to 8 minutes, not more than that and participate in foraging and collecting small twigs. But it is always the female sparrow who collects the food and twigs and the male sparrow only accompanies the female. It keeps a check whether any other sparrows are invading the foraging territory and sometimes spends the time busy preening.
There were few such days where the couple used to perch on iron rods and on the branches of the tree beside their nest and spend most of the time chirping and preening. Usually, a sparrow’s call is a twittering repeated series of chirps (peep – peep – peep). But sometimes when the female was not accompanying the male, the male sparrow used a unique vocalization that was quite louder than its usual chirps and was non-repetitive (peeeep – – – – peeeep). It used this kind of vocalization to call his partner. Last but not least I observed some territorial fights where both female and male sparrow participated and the uniqueness of these fights was that the female always brawled with a female and the male always brawled with the male. Observing these little creatures not only gave me enjoyment but also enriched me with the quality of tolerance.
Lastly, I conclude with the fact that according to a report known as State of India’s Birds 2000 published last year in 2020 to an online portal called eBird suggests that the population of House Sparrow has been fairly stable during the past 25 years. The data was contributed by 15,500 birdwatchers and was based on 10 million observations since 2000. Data from the six different metro cities of India such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai are collected. The data indicates a gradual decline in sparrow’s population in urban areas.
Sparrows are very important for the environment. They play an important role in ecological balance. They serve as an important prey base for birds of prey, help in seed dispersal as they consume large numbers of seeds, etc. As they love to stay with us it is also our duty to help them. You can build nests (check different websites on how to make a nest for sparrows), provide them with a bowl of water and sometimes you can also offer them small seeds (please have prior knowledge of what kind of seeds you need to give). So if we can do these little things, I believe one day they will again flourish in urban areas too.