Those tiny chirpy house sparrows, which used to nest in the neighbourhood and rear off-springs, are gradually disappearing from public spaces. But with little ingenuity, determination and hard work, a collective of nature enthusiasts are out to reverse this trend and help them flock back to the backyard of houses.
The Kottayam-based Green Community, in association with the OISCA International, has embarked on a mission to rekindle all the romance of bringing these chirpy creatures to the backyards and halt them from fading into the past. Starting from April this year, the group has put up around 300 artificial nest boxes in and around the region for the birds to settle and breed.
“In summer, these birds choose the best locations to build nests, so why not offer them a safe place to settle”, asks Gopakumar Kangazha, who spearheads the initiative. Most of these artificial nests, made of bamboo, have been placed on top of trees with the help of school students, who are required to monitor and report whether these holes are being occupied or not.
Besides the house sparrow, the project aims to host other common birds such as common myna, magpie robin and small green barbet, among others.
Building artificial nests, according to project coordinators, can be incredibly intricate as it should ensure enough space for parent birds to perch and feed the hatchlings, while also making it impossible for other birds to get inside and harm the eggs.
“ A prototype of an artificial nest was first developed with the active support of B.Sreekumar, president of the Kottayam Nature Society, and based on the success of our pilot programme, we intend to expand this to more locations in the coming years,” they explained
Commenting on the initiative, Dr. Sreekumar said the size of the nest boxes vary with each type of bird. “These boxes should be ideally placed at a height between 10 and 15 feet from the ground while the bird holes should not face the southwest direction to avoid the monsoon showers and accompanying winds,” he said.
Besides ensuring safe shelter for birds, the project also seeks to sensitise the younger generation to the need for building a larger conservation movement. “When the kids get sensitised, they will take the message forward and spread the word. This is the sole reason why we are associating with the school going kids,” said Mr.Gopakumar.