The house sparrow that was declared the 'State Bird of Delhi' in 2012 is edging towards extinction due to the lack of an emotional connect, says conservationist Mohammed Dilawar.
Dilawar, who started the practice of observing March 20 as World Sparrow Day in 2010, said that "mindless urbanisation" was leading to a loss of the birds' natural habitats.
"Common sparrows are going extinct because of mindless urbanisation. They are losing not just their natural habitats but also the essential human touch they need and thrive upon.
"The current generation is so much surrounded by technology that they have forgotten about nature. The indifference caused by a lack of emotional connect has pushed these birds to the edge of extinction," Dilawar, who also founded Nature Forever Society for India (NFSI), a non-profit organization to conserve house sparrows, told PTI.
World Sparrow Day, an initiative by NFSI, is now celebrated annually across 50 countries.
The conservationist also attributed the depleting population of sparrows to the increased use of packed food, insecticides in farming, and changing lifestyles, resulting in an inadequate availability of food for the birds.
"Earlier women used to clean grain outside their houses and sparrows would have plenty of food from there. Also the severe use of insecticides in farming is killing sparrows' primary food source in insects and grains," says Dilawar.
Sparrows are also rendered homeless, he says, due to the "matchbox styled" architecture that makes it difficult for the birds to locate pockets to build nests.
"Unlike pigeons that can make nests on ledges, sparrows need cavities to build their nests. Since the new matchbox style buildings don't have cavities, sparrows are now homeless," he says.
Founded in 2005, NFSI works actively to spread awareness for bird conservation, besides distributing bird feeders and nest boxes to solve to some extent the scarcity of food and nests.
With summer approaching, Dilawar suggests people should hang wooden bird nests in balconies and put out a pot of water for the winged visitors.
To track the number of sparrows in the area, the institution also observed a three-day 'Great Sparrow Count' starting March 18, during which birdwatchers uploaded bird counts in their respective localities on to a common database.