If you have a problem, fix it. But train yourself not to worry, worry fixes nothing. - Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Homeless house sparrows

House sparrows (Passer domesticus), once abundant in human habitat, are hardly seen these days. They usually build their nests in crevices in tile-roofed houses and in the small openings in walls that serve as ventilators. When my sister and I were kids, we would worry a lot about the safety of the tiny sparrows that used to hatch out regularly in a ventilator in the northern wall of our house. Thanks to the change in architecture and the style of construction, house sparrows have lost their “natural” habitat.

We now live in a building that doesn’t have any opening on walls above the windows, no recent building does. Every morning, a few sparrows still come to the window ledge of our kitchen, eat whatever is on offer, show their displeasure if the food isn’t up to their expectation, and thank us if it is. Over time, they have shed their fear. They keep on eating even as we watch them through the window. Amongst them is one that is particularly old. He doesn’t leave anything behind.

My wife leaves water in an earthen pot every morning on our terrace. In summer, the pot gets empty before it’s ten. Not only sparrows, but crows and shalikhs too are regular visitors to our home. Shalikhs are small brown birds that are slightly bigger than sparrows. I don’t know what they are called in English.

When a friend forwarded this appeal, I thought I would share it with you. It says you could help in conservation of sparrows by feeding them daily. You could also provide clean water for birds to drink and bathe in. You could plant some native species of plants which attract pests and birds, the former being food for the latter. If you are from Bangalore, you may SMS Mr. Kiran Boal at 98803 93743 for a free bird feeder. 


  1. i love these little creatures. yes, we must do all we can to ensure that they survive the human onslaught of the planet.

  2. I once read that mobile phone towers are also responsible for the dwindling number of house sparrows.
    It is surely very strange that sparrows which were a part of our lives in childhood have started vanishing in such a short while.
    ...your post also reminds me of a sparrow family's nest in a rare corner of our attic. As my mother tried cleaning the attic on a weekend,once a pretty little egg fell from the nest.After a while, a almost pinkish baby bird with a white beak popped out.Soon all my friends gathered.Sadly, it was badly hurt and we could do very little.
    ...........with saparrows comes truly lovable childhood memories.In this regard I would also like to say,watch the movie -'FLY AWAY HOME'.I am certain you would never regret watching this .
    By the way, am I right when i say that Tagore's 'bangoma and bangomi' (nursery rhyme)refer to house sparrows?

  3. The bulb in our balcony had fused and I had removed the fused bulb for replacing it with another. That took some time and meanwhile, a sparrow made a nest in the lamp shade, and laid its eggs in it. I waited for the eggs to hatch and the chicks to fly away, to put in place the new bulb. It was a beautiful sight to see the mother feed the chicks and their constant chirping was sweet indeed.

    Finally, after the birds flew away, I removed the nest and put a new bulb in the holder. This was a place I used for quiet (away from the TV) reading at nights. A few days later, Molly heard some loud and violent chirping in the balcony. On looking, she saw the mother sparrow flying around the lamp shade. Obviously, she had come to make another nest and did not appreciate the encroachment. Molly removed the bulb and now the sparrow has made another beautiful nest and has some eggs in it. We are once again waiting for the eggs to hatch, not for removing the nest, but to hear the sweet chirping of the little chicks.

    We do not intend to replace the bulb. We will leave the nest permanently there. The sweet chirping and the birds' flying in and out of our balcony, are more soothing than any words (reading).


  4. Thanks, KPJ, Shubhranka, and George.

    Thanks Shubhranka, for visiting my blog. Great that the Net gives us an opportunity to find out kindred souls whom we would never meet otherwise.

    And George, your story is touching. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Keep well and take care, all of you.

  5. Some day cities will even lose crows, those hardy survivors, and we'll be poorer as a result. For a long time there were four sparrow nests in our house in the town. Hopefully at least they'll survive in the towns.

  6. You're crazy.... house sparrows are a pest. They raid nests of local songbirds, driving away the native birds. They are not native to North america (assuming you live in america)
    and it's perfectly legal to shoot them (though I would never, I have a pet rescued sparrow that can't fly)
    I have watched my backyard pair of turtle doves lose several brews of eggs at the beaks of house sparrows who then took over the nest. because I do not want to see my doves driven away (they have nested in my tree for some years now) I bait and trap any sparrows around that I can. I let them go in the national park outside my city.


I will be happy to read your views, approving or otherwise. Please feel free to speak your mind. Let me add that it might take a day or two for your comments to get published.