Here’s to those little guys

Right, its quiz time! Which species is / was known by its scientific name ‘passer domesticus’?

If you’ve guessed that right – & that would be a big if, considering they are almost extinct – I’m certain you’ll recall these little fellas with melancholy. Sparrows!



There were ubiquitous once upon a time. Ask any Bangalorean who’s lived here for long and s/he’ll tell you how afternoon naps were disturbed by these avian’s and their incessant, noisy twittering. Yet, they were a comfortable presence. Something would certainly not seem right if their presence was missing. Or, how these guys would build nests inside houses, on roofs etc using a combination of straw, dry twigs, broken bits of thodapakuchi ( broomsticks) etc. Also, how these guys could be relied upon to clear broken rice while being cleaned. Even, how you could dispose off worms that you found while cleaning cauliflowers or even, avarekkai! Sigh, those were the days!

Over the past 20 odd years, the sparrow population has decreased steadily, no thanks to changes in housing structures, pollution, noise, shrinking tree cover….et al.

But there’s hope. They are still around and shaking their resilient little booty, these guys. Here’s proof. Pecking away for worms among heaps of cauliflowers, pic taken outside the Russel Market main entrance.


I was so happy seeing them after such a long time, watching them hop around & taking pics that the vegetable sellers stared at me, perhaps wondering if I have gone cuckoo!

Actually, it shouldn’t hurt being called a bird brain. I’m in illustrious company, you see. In this article, Zafar Futehally reminisces (a reference is made to the one & only bird man of India – Dr. Salim Ali too!) about the sparrow and what their absence really tells us of our so-called progress! Harish Bijoor, another prominent Bangalorean writes succinctly about their disappearance. Vasudha V from Chennai suggests an solution. T Murugavel feels that there seems to be an increase in sparrows noticed in certain localities in Chennai.

All told, is there hope for these little guys? Do they have a hope in heaven of making a comeback, what with ongoing programmes to increase green cover in Bangalore? Won’t pollution decrease once public transport makes a comeback with the Bangalore Metro? Will there be a shift towards more eco-friendly housing?

Am I indulging in sheer flights of fancy?


For more info, here’s the wiki entry on sparrows. Here’s a video clip featuring a couple!

2 Comments so far

  1. Deepak (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

    Nice One!.. Well I felt the same way when i spotted “Gubbi” (Sparrow) last week here in Mumbai! No wonder, increased human activities are driving lil fellow out!
    Even thogh I stay ourskirts of bangalore where there isnt much population, havn’t spotted one for long long time!

    Gud read!

  2. HNJ (unregistered) on April 27th, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

    Interesting, a pair of sparrows have put up a nest in my house. Yes the numbers have come down, but then the adapt, like the crows, you can still spot them in Lal Bagh, Cubbon Park..

    Deepak, i’m surpsised to know that the Sparrows are rare in the outskirts, I believed they would have moved from the city to the outskirts.

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