It's been five years since the Nashik-based Nature Forever Society launched the first World Sparrow Day programme on 20 March 2010, and since then, India and several other countries have woken up to the fact that the tiny bird, otherwise common around homes, is disappearing.
"Awareness about the need to protect the sparrow has increased tremendously ever since we launched the World Sparrow Day," Mohammed Dilawar, scientist and conservationist at NSF who initiated the day, told IBTimes India.
How It Started
The sparrow has literally been kicked out of cities and towns in India, with its habitat destroyed and because of its inability to compete with bigger birds such as crows and pigeons.
"The change in architecture in cities, especially with more building with glass facades coming up, has left no space for sparrows, which mainly live in small cavities," said Dilawar.
The Nature Forever Society has been working since 2005 towards the protection of birds such as sparrows, but the pace really picked up in 2010.
"We felt that since we celebrate several important days observed by the West, we should have a World Day to create awareness about the sparrow in all countries where it is found," said Dilawar.
In 2010, the organisation launched the World Sparrow Day, with then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who went on to declare the sparrow as the state bird in 2012.
The Indian Postal Department released a stamp of the house sparrow on 20 March 2010.
The World Sparrow Day is now an internationally recognised day, observed in almost 50 nations, and involves leading ornithology institutions and bird organisations, says Dilawar.
Here's What You Can Do
But even as awareness has risen, Dilawar says it is still impossible to say if the number of sparrows has increased or declined over the last few years, because of a lack of a monitoring programme.
"The problem is, monitoring birds such as sparrows is the responsibility of citizens, unlike that of monitoring species such as tigers, which the government is doing," says Dilawar.
"It is too ambitious to think we can save the tiger if we cannot save the sparrow," he says, putting things in perspective.
With this thought, Dilawar's Nature Forever Society launched the Common Bird Monitoring of India programme, urging citizens to provide data about birds, especially sparrows, after observing them in their habitats.
Anyone who wants to contribute to this effort just has to log on to www.cbmi.in and follow the instructions for providing details about observing birds.
The theme for the day this year is 'I Love Sparrows', and you can download digital posters of this theme from the www.worldsparrowday.org website and share it on social media as part of awareness.
More importantly, you can log on to Nature Forever Society's www.shopping.natureforever.org website to buy nest boxes and bird feeders to keep near your house to ensure the tiny bird gets a home.
"Since the World Sparrow Day began, we have seen more people buying the nest boxes and bird feeders from us to keep at their homes and even to gift it to others," says Dilawar.