Sparrowfella is an initiative that was commenced two years ago as a contribution for conservation of House Sparrow. The house sparrow Passer domesticus which was perhaps the most common bird that lived alongside humans has seen a major decline in its population. Several reasons has bought this most common bird on the Red Data list. Changing architectural landscapes have affected their nesting site areas.
Sparrows have always lived closed to human habitations. Primarily a ground feeding bird that feeds on grains and small insects, these birds chose to make nesting in manmade structures. Earlier tiled roofs, open meter boxes, telephone cable boxes were widely used by these species for nesting and reproduction. Thatched roofs of old heritage homes and office buildings provided the required nesting areas for sparrows to thrive. Green open areas provided wild grasses and grains for these birds earlier. Household chores of cleaning grains also provided feed for birds in chawls. Concretisation in a way has taken away the opportunity for feeding and nesting areas in the city.
Initially the project was all about distribution of sparrow nests to people. But over a year, we realized that random distribution of nests do not help existing sparrow populations. Over the last one year sparrow shelters were given only to people who had sparrows in their locality and registered via a mobile application Whatsapp. Regular updates of nests occupancy were recorded by these registered individuals and these areas were taken into consideration for distribution of more nests to registered people.
This project envisages not only to provide shelters for sparrows which is most often the case, but also to monitor nests with active participation of individuals who have installed nests in their locality. This active monitoring will help gather data of sparrow populations and help in the distribution of more nests, thus giving a boost to the local population of the House sparrow.
This activity carried out under the banner Sparrowfella has till date distributed more than 1000 nests to various bird lovers in Mumbai and Thane.
Guidelines are given at respective times for successful sparrow nesting. Veterinarians treat sparrow chicks that need medical attention in rescue cases. Members foster chicks till they are fit for release. Hundreds of such chicks have been successfully released back into the city.