Monday, 21 May 2012

The urban chirp - Sparrows

Most people are familiar with the small brown bird which used to chirp in the morning..and used to hop all around. That bird is house sparrow also known as passer domesticus. Hindi folks named it as ‘goraiya’.

Sparrows are one of the most sociable birds. They like to nest close together and do not like nesting sites where only one nest can be constructed. They also congregate together and play together.They like their nests to be as close as possible to human habitations, even though this does not seem to be necessary to their feeding habits. It is possible that they feel some sort of protection from the presence of humans, that many of their predators are afraid of man and so it is safer to be near human habitation. The most important symbolic aspect of the Sparrow is the way it has been regarded as of such little value that it has become a symbol of value. This is found best expressed in the Gospels where Jesus says: "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows." Saint Francis expressed his love for all God's creatures by preaching his sermons to the sparrows. The idea of both demanding to be honoured and respected, to be valued and of being hampered by not being honoured, respected or valued was important for many provers and was also found in their dreams.
Our country, India is losing the house for sparrows. According to the analysis this bird’s population is declining at such a rate that in a span of five years it has made its way in the list of endangered species.
Reasons given for such decline are:

  • Introduction of unleaded petrol, the combustion of which produces compounds such as methyl nitrite, a compound which is highly toxic for small insects, which forms a major part of a young sparrow’s diet.
  • The widespread use of chemical pesticides in farmlands has resulted in the killings of insects on which these birds depend.
  • Erecting structures which does not allow them to build nest.
Today one misses the sight of sparrows hopping from branch to branch in the bushes outside one’s house and their chirping. One is taken back to well known Hindi Writer Mahadevi Verma’s Story ‘Goraiya’ – eating grains from her hands, jumping on her shoulders and playing hide and seek. Today one wishes that the Goriya does not remain confined in the pages of Mahadevi Verma’s story but comes back to our cities as ever before.