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Hyderabad: Where have all the birds gone?


Published on: March 23, 2017 | Updated on: March 23, 2017

Hyderabad: It is not just sparrows. The dwindling green spots in the city has taken a toll on common birds. Due to urbanization trees have been felled in many parts and the natural dwellings of several bird species have been disturbed.

There were times when house sparrows (Passer domestics) were seen very commonly in the cities. Due to the growth of the concrete jungle, the population of these birds has declined in the cities. Other factors responsible for this decline are: reduced trees  and shrubs, shrinking open spaces such as vast courtyards, climate change, changes in the food chain and global warming.

Birds like bulbuls, sunbirds, mynas, shikra which were once abundant in the city. But no longer. The decrease in the source of nutrients, and vegetation crisis has seen these birds vanish. In many areas, even the common crow has disappeared. Insects, which are one of the main sources of nutrients for these birds, are being poisoned with insecticides. This is a loss of a food source for these birds.

A red flag was raised by environmentalists due to the sudden disappearance of the house sparrows. These birds are sensitive to environmental hazards. The rise in global warming, noise pollution, emission of harmful gases from vehicles, increase in greenhouse gases emission, air pollution, and lifestyle changes of human beings in the cities, are some of the factors which have been affecting the health of many avifaunas.

Mr B Srikanth, secretary of the Nature Foundation and a bird watcher from Hyderabad says,  "Birds are unable to find proper places to nest due to the concrete buildings which leave no space for them to build. Difficulty in finding proper nesting and feeding grounds for these birds has led to the decline of their population in the cities." He said,  "The abundance of food is one of the reasons why we see slightly fewer sparrows and parakeets in Hyderabad city when compared to Mumbai, but the number is not too different from this region. Just as we can see these birds in the suburbs of Mumbai which still have some greenery left, we can also find these birds in Hyderabad as well, in a few places like Ameenpur, Tarnaka, RC Puram, Gachibowli – all of which have a  sparrow population’’.

Experts say that there is less green cover in Hyderabad than in a heavily industrialised city such as Mumbai.  Animals and birds are an integral part of our eco-system, so at least 30 per cent of green cover should be maintained for their existence, experts suggest. Dr Chelmala Srinivasulu, assistant professor of Zoology at Osmania University and member of the Telangana State Biodiversity Board said, "In Mumbai people still encourage smaller birds by feeding them with grains and water and also provide sparrow nesting space. In Mumbai fogging is not as rampant when compared to Hyderabad. Also people spray larvicidel along with fogging during the mosquito breeding season’’.

Mr Rajeev Mathew, expert member, Telangana Biodiversity Board, said, ‘’One should only look for sparrows in appropriate habitats as it’s like wanting to see a leopard in Jubilee Hills. If you want to see sparrows, one should look for them in places like Somajiguda, .Shamshabad,Necklace Road and a few other places which have greenery in the city’’.

He said parakeets, that are fruit-eating birds, can be found in areas where there are fruit-bearing trees, while crows are an indicator of poor sanitary conditions. "Seeing crows simply means that there is a lot of garbage. Many birds are bio-indicators of the health of a habitat or ecosystem," Mr Mathew said.