[Conservation] Why House Sparrow Population declining? Endangered Bird species of India

MrunalEnvironment105 Comments

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  1. House sparrow Population decline
  2. Long billed Vultures
  3. Lake Kolleru & its bird sanctuary
  4. 15 Indian birds globally endangered
  5. Amur Falcon
  6. Nicobar scrubfowl/Megapod
  7. Narcondam Hornbill
  8. Mock Questions

House sparrow Population decline

  • House sparrows found around the world, except in the Polar Regions.
  • IUCN status: Least concern
  • March 20 – World Sparrow Day. (from 2010 onwards)
  • Declared state bird of Delhi.
  • Have a symbiotic relationship with humans for the past 10,000 years. Hence their disappearance hints rapid degradation of environment.
Why sparrows disappearing from cities?
Cause Consequence
  1. Vegetation loss
  2. Although posh families doing gardening, but they use too much chemicals, no insects survive.
  3. Mosquito and insect repellents
  4. 1962: Rachael Carson’s book Silent Spring- discussed how insecticides are becoming ‘biocides’ and killing many organisms directly and indirectly.
  • Insects gone, less food.
  • While adult sparrow can survive on grains, but young chicks insects for protein.
  1. Grains being stored in plastic bags instead of jute bags
  2. Even if grains rotting at railway stations, sparrows avoid it due to pesticides. Even in microlevels, pesticides can kill it.
Less food for sparrows
  1. Less trees, more Concrete buildings, AC windows without gaps and ridges
Sparrows can’t make nests.
  1. Glass panels in buildings- reflecting the images of nearby trees.
Sparrows mistake them for real trees- crash while flying.
  1. Vehicles: Noise and air pollution
  2. Electromagnetic Radiation from cell towers, wifi etc.
Negative impact on bird life cycle.
  • Sparrows are resilient, they migrate to safer zones, feed at public granaries, market places, ports and rail stations, nest at nearby sites and adapt to stabilize their population.
  • But gradually, all such places are becoming unsuitable for the sparrows.

Long billed Vultures

  • IUCN status: Critically Endangered
  • Where? only in Nilgiri hills [North-Eastern slops]
  • other vulture species in Nilgiris=White-backed vulture, King vulture and Egyptian vulture
  • Threat: anti-inflammatory drug (Diclofenac) used in cattle. When vultures eat such dead cattle, it causes renal (kidney) failure in the vulture => death.
  • Solution? = educate farmers to use another drug called Meloxicam
Some State birds GK
Jammu and Kashmir Black Necked Crane
Haryana Black Francolin
Gujarat Greater Flamingo
Maharashtra Yellow Footed Green Pigeon.
Delhi House-sparrow

Lake Kolleru & its bird sanctuary

Why in news? Migratory Pelican birds arrived in Kolleru bird sanctuary. [IUCN status: Least concern].

  • Location: Lake Kolleru in Andhra Pradesh.
  • it’s a fresh water lake
  • It’s a Ramsar wetland site
  • located near coast but not a lagoon
  • Enclosed between mouths of Godavari & Krishna Rivers.
  • gets water from Bedameru and Tammileru streams (they get water from Krishna & Godavari)
  • Many islands on this lake.
  • Pallava era copper plates found from the lake.

Threats to Lake Kolleru?

  1. Industrial waste and fertilizers polluting the lake. They promote growth of weed and hyacinth*. Not good for fishes.
  2. Farmers setup artificial saline ponds for hatching fish and prawn. This saline water pollutes ground water.
  3. Borewells in the nearby farms = water table down = salt water intrusion

15 Indian birds globally endangered

Topic in news because Hindu ran a story and UPSC has a nasty habit of asking MCQs related to Endangeredness of xyz bird/animal.

  1. Bengal Florican
Critically Endangered
  • Himalayan Terai (UP, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh
  • farmers destroy Grasslands and scrub forests
  1. Great Indian Bustard
Critically Endangered
  • few birds in Kutch, Maharashtra, Deccan, Rajasthan, Andhra, Karnataka.
  • Almost disappeared from Haryana, Punjab, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu
  • Mine workers lost jobs after closure of Gwalior mine=> resorted o poaching in Ghatigaon sanctuary.
  • Egg collecting in Andhra and Karnataka
  • Bustards like monsoon crops – Sorghum Millet etc but now farmers grow cash crops- sugarcane, cotton etc thanks to irrigation.
  • mining, quarrying, power projects
  • Eucalyptus, Juliflora etc exotic tree species by Forest Department
  1. Sociable Lapwing
critically endangered
  • Kutch and Rajasthan
  • Farmers destroy Grasslands and scrub forests = less moth = less birds.
  • lay eggs on ground-nests. they’re destroyed by grazing sheeps and goats.
  • hunting by nomadic tribes.
  1. Jerdon’s Courser
critically endangered
  • Eastern Ghat Andhra, South MP
  • farmers destroy Grasslands and scrub forests
  • Habitat fragmentation by Telugu-Ganga Canal in Cuddapah District of Andhra
  1. Forest Owlet
Critically Endangered
  • Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha.
  • Central India’s deciduous forest
  • fuel-fodder collection
  • tribal use their eggs, feathers, bones for drum making.
  • Agro-chemicals reduce insect, rodent population.
  1. Spoon-billed Sandpiper
Critically Endangered
  • North East and Bangladesh
  • wetland destruction due to dams
  • foxes and dogs destroy their nests
  1. Siberian Crane
Critically Endangered
  • Migratory – to Keoladeo sanctuary, Rajasthan.
  • Wetland destruction
  1. White-bellied Heron
Critically Endangered
  • North East India, Bhutan, Myanmar
  • wetland destruction for tea plantations
  • Poaching in Namdapha National park
  • forest fires, hydroelectric projects
  1. Red-headed Vulture
Critically Endangered
  • also called Pondicherry
  • Gujarat, North East, Himalayan foothills
  • Diclofenac drug to animals=> dead animal eaten by Vulture => vulture kidney fail by Diclofenac.
  1. Christmas Island Frigate
Critically Endangered
  • originally from Christmas island, Australia.
  • Andaman and Nicobar islands
  • overfishing + marine pollution in Andaman sea
  • Non-Native species “yellow ants”=> baby crabs killed => less food for frigate.
  1. Lesser Florican
  • Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra
  • farmers destroy Grasslands and scrub forests
  1. Egyptian Vulture
  • North Western India
  • electrocution (by powerlines)
  • collisions with wind turbines,
  • and ofcourse Diclofenac
  1. Greater Adjutant (stork)
  • Assam and Bihar.
  • Since they eat carcasses and small animals- people cut the trees to get rid of them from societies and colonies.
  • food chemicals in dumpsters
  1. Masked Finfoot (duck)
  • North East India
  • riverine destroyed for tea plantation
  • illegal felling of trees
  • dam construction- siltation
  • hunting eggs and chicks
  1. Wood Snipe
  • Himalayas & North East
  • Habitat destroyed for tea plantation & jhoom cultivation

Amur Falcon

  • A Migratory bird from Russia.
  • Every year, in October, they arrive in northeast India from Siberia en route to their final destination — Africa.
  • During their flight, they stop the jungles of Nagaland for a while, for food and rest.
  • Why in News? Because some environment activists found that 120,000 to 140,000 birds are being slaughtered in Nagaland every year during their passage through the state, and sold for their meat @local markets.
  • They’ve requested Environment Ministry to take action.
  • India, is a signatory to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), therefore it is Government’s responsibility to provide safe passage to all migratory birds, turtles etc.
Amur Falcon

Amur Falcon

Nicobar scrubfowl/Megapod

  • A bird, only found in Nicobar island.
  • Why in news? Because Navy wanted to setup a missile testing site at Tillanchong Sanctuary in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Environment Ministry rejected it, missile testing project would destroy the habitat of this bird.
  • This Bird is also called Nicobar megapode —because of its large legs.
  • This bird is considered sacred by the Nicobarese people, was hit badly by the Indian Ocean tsunami that destroyed vast swathes of its habitat and nesting grounds.
  • Navy Chief said, “We know that Environment ministry has its reservations. But the fact is we cannot do without our firing range”

Nicobar scrubfowl/Megapod

Narcondam Hornbill

  • Narcondam is an extremely remote, tiny island in the Andaman and Nicobar Island group, and is home to about 300 Narcondam hornbills, a species that is found nowhere else in the world.
  • Why in news? Because The Coast Guard wanted to set up a surveillance radar here, but environment ministry rejected the proposal.

Narcondam Hornbill

Andaman Nicobar Map-click to enlarge

Mock Questions

Q. Kolleru bird sanctuary is enclosed between the mouths of ____ and ____ Rivers.

  1. Godavari, Pennar
  2. Krishna, Pennar
  3. Godavari, Krishna,
  4. Pennar, Polvaram

Q. Which of the following measures will help in biodiversity preservation of Lake Kolleru?

  1. introduction of aquatic plant species called Hyacinth, in this wetland habitat
  2. Providing subsidy to the fisherman in surrounding villages to create artificial ponds for prawn hatching.
  3. Requesting UNFCC Secretariat to grant “Ramsar Wetland site” Status to Lake Kolleru.

Correct choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of them

Q. Which of the following statements are correct?

  1. Amur falcon is a bird species native to North East India.
  2. Nicobar Megapod is a critically endangered insect under IUCN.

Q2. Narcondam Hornbill Is found in…

  1. Wheeler’s island, Orissa
  2. Salim Ali National Park, Kashmir
  3. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Goa
  4. Andamand Nicobar islands.
  1. Write a short note on the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). 10marks


  1. With respect to, the tussle between Navy/Coast Guards vs. Environment Ministry, What is more important: National security or conservation of an endangered species? And why?
  2. What do you know about Migratory Species? Do you know names of any sites your state/district, that are frequented by migratory species?
  3. There are reports of large scale poaching of Migratory birds in your area. This is the only source of livelihood for many villagers and favorite dish among urban class. Forest officers are reluctant to detain anyone, fearing possible protests and unrest in the villages. As the District collector what steps will you take?
Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak

105 Comments on “[Conservation] Why House Sparrow Population declining? Endangered Bird species of India”

  1. Hi to everybody.. I am a civil service aspirant.. Preparing for CSE 2014-15… Doing self preparation without coaching… Anybody doing CSE preparation for 2014 can contact me @conicsray@yahoo.com for CSE 2014 talks and most importantly motivating each other..

  2. Very well described. It made me easy to understand the whole concept of El Nino.
    Specially that drawing which completly clears the whole concept of El Nino

  3. Mistake is there.

    High southern oscillations is normal year

    low southern oscillation is el nino year

    otherwise great article. Pls correct!

  4. Sir you are excellent but I would like to add few points about El-nino:
    According to Historical data of 126 years (1880-2005), about 90% of all evolving El Niño years have lead to below normal rainfall and 65% of evolving El Niño years have brought droughts. But not all El Niño years lead to drought in India. For instance, 1997-98 was the strong El Niño of century but that did not cause drought in India. On the other hand, a moderate El Niño in 2002 resulted in one of the worst droughts in India.So there is no one-to-one correspondence between El-Nino and drought in India.According to rescent work of krishna Kumar and Co-workers (2006) -When the warming over the eastern Pacific starts from boreal winter and persisted through the reference summer,the rainfall is not deficient despite El-Nino.But when eastern pacific starts warming rapidly only a season before the reference summer,the rainfall is deficient.

  5. respected sir , in both the diagrams , shouldnt the below images be rotated 180 degrees (coz northwards is pointing southwards in image ) . again upwelling takes place near peru coast in reality whereas according to the diagram it shows upwelling at aussie lands … kindly correct me if i am wrong . regards .

  6. I’ve been probing and probing to find data about El Niño 2014. I’ve to submit a paper on it. Your article gave me authentic information about it. I’ve answers for all my questions in your article. You made my job easy. I’ll be thankful if you notify latest updates on El Niño 2014. Thanking you once again.

  7. Sir, you’ve mentioned this “We learned that El Nino = warm water moves towards Australia” Isn’t the water moves away from australia in case of El nino?Please check.


  8. Sir please explain why there is high pressure region near Mascarene region near equator for walker cycle?

  9. air , those interview questions ,,, ……. how to give the reply to that 1st and 3rd question of interview ?

  10. In the Bay of Bengal, far removed from the mainland, lie the 572 islands of Andaman and Nicobar, which form India’s southeast border. While the northernmost part of the archipelago is only 22 nautical miles away from Myanmar, the southernmost point, called the Indira Point, is a mere 90 nautical miles from Indonesia. These islands dominate the Bay of Bengal and the Six Degree and Ten Degree channels which more than 60,000 commercial vessels traverse each year.

    Among the nine major bottlenecks that control entry to this region are the Malacca Strait and the Six Degree Channel. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands lie in this strategically important zone, meaning that India with its growing naval capabilities could play a significant role in controlling access.

    India’s Navy chief, Admiral R K Dhowan recently acknowledged that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a “very very important aspect” of India’s security, acting as extended arms of the country. Dhowan said that India needed to deploy naval assets to the islands for surveillance in important sea lines of communication.

    Yet over the past 15 years successive governments have been slow to act, even after having declared their intention of beefing up the security infrastructure on the islands. A unified land, sea and air command was created more than a decade ago, but the command still faces turf wars, funding issues, and glacial decision making.

    In the meantime, other countries – notably China – have expanded their presence in the region. Naval vessels camouflaged as fishing boats have been sighted, while other ships make port visits to Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

    The inability of India’s civilian bureaucracy to recognize the geostrategic importance of the islands is evident in the fact that the only radar station at Port Blair is switched off every evening. When Malaysian authorities sought information about the missing MH370 from India there was none to share.

    Soon after coming to power last year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi brushed aside environmental concerns and cleared a decade-old proposal to set up a radar station on an island lying a few miles from Coco Islands, which Myanmar has leased to China for the purpose of setting up a listening post. Reportedly, infrastructure development on Coco Islands was completed in short order, and besides a radar station the Chinese have also built an airstrip. In contrast, India took ten years to decide to build a radar station on the nearby Narcondam Islands.

    Plans to improve the infrastructure are welcome but the Modi government needs to acknowledge the strategic importance of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and push an indifferent bureaucracy to faster decision-making. India could be using these islands to project power into the region and signal China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy about its readiness to counter any intervention.

    Of the 572 islands that make up the Andaman and Nicobar group, only 37 are inhabited. The absence of a human presence on hundreds of these islands has made them vulnerable to narcotics smuggling, intrusion by foreign vessels, and other incursions. The home ministry needs to seriously consider suggestions to encourage migration from the mainland and open up some of these strategically located uninhabited islands to tourism. That would give India a stronger physical footprint and would help the country track the movement of vessels and people.

    The northern islands are separated from the southern group by the Ten Degree Channel, which is 80 nautical miles wide. Close watch needs to be kept over the movement of ships and military vessels that pass through these waters.

    Recognition of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as strategic assets would ensure a change in government policy. The slow pace of development and indifferent bureaucracy has ensured that after several years an undersea cable link between India’s mainland and the islands remains incomplete. Internet connectivity, even at the naval base in the capital Port Blair, is reported to be erratic.

    Road building, airstrip construction, and even the building of jetties has been slow or non-existent. More than a decade after the tsunami of 2004 an important road that helps link North with South has still not been rebuilt.

    Heavy rainfall restricts building activity to six months a year and the distance from mainland adds to the cost of construction as all material must be shipped to the islands. Few companies are willing to work on the islands because of the distance and cost. For some materials, importing from Indonesia would be far cheaper and more cost effective than sending shipments from the Indian mainland.

    Surveillance in the southern group of islands is a major challenge. The destruction of the road by the tsunami has meant that the two groups of islands are linked only by air and sea. Rather than expedite the work, the pace of development has been caught up in red tape. The landing strip on Campbell Bay is only 1,000 meters in length and plans to extend it have moved slowly. The runway in capital Port Blair took more than three years to repair.

    1. Myanmar has lent Coco island to China where is has already built Listening post, land capability.

    While India wants to neutralize Chinese presence in the region, the decision-making in New Delhi has been slow and lacking in focus. Efforts to strengthen India’s military presence have not kept pace with Chinese activity. Modi’s outreach to Japan, which has been added to Malabar, hitherto a U.S.-India bilateral military exercise, signals a change in direction by New Delhi, which has traditionally been very sensitive to Chinese concerns.

    Modi has an opportunity to make Andaman and Nicobar Islands an important element of his “Act East Policy” of engaging with countries in the region east of India. A policy of benign neglect towards the islands should be transformed into something more robust, which develops the island territories with an eye to India’s larger geopolitical interests.

  11. It’s quite disturbing to know that in India about 80-85% of House sparrows have gone extinct. Quite evidently, if trees and forests are destroyed at this rate, mobile towers kept growing in numbers, harmful pesticides are used in farms and water bodies are polluted at the same rate then the day is not far when this sweetie little bird whose symphony voice falls on our ears and fills our environment with positive energy will no longer be found.
    Our future generation will see its pictures in their books and will wonder how it was when they used to hang around.

    I am fortunate to have such shrubs present in one of the plots in and around. Many a times I have witnessed such attack in front of my eyes. For your information I should tell you that when the bird of prey attacks the group of sparrows, sparrows produce a different type of shrill sound. This sound is produced by an eye keeper of the group which alerts them before the attack actually takes place. By the time hawk or kite reaches the spot, sparrows make their way deeper into the safety of shrubs.

    On my roof, I have kept the dried up branches of tress all intact and tied up. It acts as virtual trees and is of much interest to the birds who clearly prefer perching on its branches than sitting on walls and boundaries.

    I have offered my whole roof, verandah, stairs to sparrows only by hooking up countless nests. Also a sofa and table shape has been created out of cement on which I spread boiled rice or bajra according to the season.

    Sparrows choose narrow spaces to make their nests. So, if you make big nests, sparrows won’t make it their place of abode. The materials required for making these nests are common household items. Say, box of shoes or gift pack are very suitable.

    Once we are done with nest making, the next challenge is to find a perfect spot to hang these nests. You should know that there are countless enemies of these sparrows like kite, cat, mongoose, even innocent looking squirrels kills and feeds on baby sparrows. I have seen squirrels doing so with my own eyes.

    In summers, smalls pieces of roti or boiled rice with little salt added to it can be given to them on which they feed with sheer joy. Best part is that they eat every thing that a human eats on day to day basis. So you need not search around to look for their food. Whatever is left it should be generously given to these little lovelies rather than routing it to dustbin.

    For now I have built and fixed approximately 550 such zero cost nest and have gifted many sparrow lovers such nests on condition that they will fix and care for the guest sparrows if they show up fortunately. Not just that, I have many relatives in different corners of country. So whenever I get the opportunity to visit their homes I prepare and fix nests in their homes during my stay. In most of the cases I get the news of sparrows homecoming and chirping of baby birds in a month or so.

    Emphasis on greenery, less population, alternative to mobile towers might be the things we can look forward in our future technologies. Equally important is our personal involvement in its conservation. Like if each of us decide to provide them a nest in our home, then their survival is actually not that difficult. In fact their population can get restored to its original values.

    You will be overwhelmed with pleasure knowing that while I have made arrangements for sparrows, many different species of birds too take interest in visiting this unique place. I have kept a track and tried to identity different birds since I have studied throughly a book by Saalim Ali, popularly known as bird man of India. So the figure comes to 23 different species on counted over time.

    You can catch up with all my efforts and arrangement made for sparrows on YouTube by searching ‘Sparrow conservation’ authored by Nirmal Kumar Sharma. Hope my work inspires people also to put in some efforts towards the conservation of this little bird. Efforts by a single person or few can’t go a long way, everyone’s contribution is required. The need of the moment is to get aware of its urgency and provide them with their habitat. So that atleast they can breed after we have encroached most of their habitat.

    With best wishes.
    Nirmal Kumar Sharma ,Pratap Vihar
    Ghaziabad (U.P.) Mobile No.09910629632

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