Call it a demand of the hour. Or compelling situation. We are going to any extent to accommodate ourselves to today’s fast-paced life! However, this trend develops in us a tendency of being oblivious to matters not concerning us in a direct manner. Sometimes, we tend to even make a pretence of being so. As such, it is not unlikely that we remain oblivious to a particular reality we would always like to be aware of. If needing evidence, then think how many of us are aware that a family member has gone missing from our home! No, not a human member but of course a living being – a little bird called sparrow or house sparrow, to be precise. Who can claim that our childhood had nothing to do with this human-friendly bird? On the other hand, things will not be the same for children of today’s generation. They might have seen it only in images.

Let’s contemplate on this harsh reality for a while and try to recollect exactly when we last saw it or heard its chirping sound. Five years ago, ten years back, or even beyond that! Chidiya, Chidiya ka Ghosla and its effervescent chee-chee chirps have all become obsolete, no more seen, no more heard. With passage of time many bird species turn out to be extinct. But should the sparrows meet the same destiny? There are places where sparrow population has dwindled. Some areas are those where it is rarely spotted. While in many regions it has become almost extinct; you cannot find a single sparrow even if you undertake a thorough search throughout a day.

Once upon a time, our morning was synonymous with this bird, resonating well with vibrancy generated by its peculiar chirps. Also this volume was not just instrumental in piercing every sort of silence prevailing at home, but had a kind of mastery over it. It reminds us that during childhood we were habitual to observing the neatly-built nest from shortest possible distance. Its location was such that it was almost unreachable for other house dwellers, say cat and mouse. However, the most intriguing experience relates to the very moments when we strived to capture a glimpse of eggs and newborns. Our adrenaline rush was palpable when we could somehow manage to touch them. And so was our sadness caused by tragic loss of eggs and death of newborns after accidental fall. Moreover, unforgettable are chicks exhibiting exuberance of new life and enthusiasm while learning lessons of flying from their mother. And so is baby-feeding scene reflecting selflessness, cares and affection of their mother. Also memorable is dislocated chicks, waiting for one of us to restore them back with care.

Alas, evil has reared its ugly head and the sparrows have disappeared. Their existence is definitely in peril. Human society becoming more and more subjected to environmental and infrastructural changes can be attributed to this perilous situation. These changes have paused challenges by drastically disrupting fabric of environs that the sparrows were once accustomed to. Some natural hazards such as climate change and even earthquake might also have played a significant role. However, due to lack of study, no conclusion can be drawn as of now.

Our quest for technologies and modern lifestyle has brought us heaven-like amenities but simultaneously proven to be hell for other living beings. Trees are inevitable necessity for any bird, let alone the sparrows. But in the name of constructing infrastructure – or call it a jungle of cement and concrete – trees are made mere scapegoat, being sacrificed at every nook and corner. This results in plummeting number of trees, notwithstanding the greenery drive launched by the government. Similarly, the most typical result of rapid urbanization is colossal destruction of ground-floor apartments which this bird prefers the most. As a matter of fact, this is not a bird who ventures high into sky. Rather, it frequents soil in search of preys and foods. As such, high-rise complexes have nothing to offer to it. Furthermore, the latest chunk of public utility places – be it malls, multiplexes or hospitals – have one typical thing in common, which is a structure holding the ceiling at commendable height, that too with least number of pillars Nest-building is a far-fetched reality considering height and dearth of walls.

Still, apart from perils of other factors, we may now dig out the most valid one and discard all other. It is none other than the ubiquitous mobile phone towers but with a different reason, not related to their tangible height. Instead, the intangible radiation emitted by these towers is ostensibly injurious to the vulnerable sparrow. And we can logically draw a correlation between radiation effect and vanishing streak of this bird. The evolution of telecom and then consequent omnipresence of mobile phones within too short duration have occurred parallel to rapid decline in its population. What’s more, our stance on urban infrastructure and environmental changes weakens when we focus on rural areas because villages too rue the loss of this bird.

In addition to this, government’s callous neglect in safeguarding this cute creature has all but added to its woes. This contradicts with its proactive measures taken for the well being of privileged creatures, say migratory birds and acclaimed endangered species like lions and tigers. This spirit of going extra miles to fulfill this purpose fades when it comes to the sparrows. And the government agencies are even caught unaware of the entire crisis.

Nevertheless, this human-friendly bird is not that unfortunate. Many bird lovers have come forward and taken upon themselves a mission for its reinstatement. Their commitment to do everything possible to rule out its extinction is incredible. Although their real objective is still a distant dream, they have already succeeded on two counts. First, a success in bringing to the fore this freak reality. Second, with public awareness, the “sparrow house” which they are campaigning for is striking a chord with masses. It is made of clay or wooden materials and can do wonders by luring this bird inside. And there are reports about it being occupied by the sparrows within hours of its placement. Also in the news are organizations which are distributing this house free of cost. So, if you are privileged enough to have sightings of this bird in your vicinity, send it a freewheeling invitation by installing this small item at your residence. This little goodwill gesture will do it a favor. We all should follow suit no matter how much alien the sparrow sounds to us. Let’s do it in a hope of “paradise regained” for our beloved family member.

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