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Sparrows are one of the most easily recognisable birds when you start observing them closely. Let’s go looking for some birds! Be sure to take along your field diary. Note the time in your diary when you set out looking for birds. If you start to see one or more birds like crows, mynas, pigeons, kites or house sparrows, get your field diary out. Note down where you spot your sparrow group, out on the road, in a garden, on a compound wall, feeding at a garbage pile? How many do you see in the group? If you find a group of house sparrows, watch them for a while. How many males and females do you see? Can you the see black bibs on the males? Note down anything else that you think is interesting about their behaviour.
If you have the time, walk on and look for more birds, and more sparrows. If you cannot find sparrows, but only see other birds, this is important information too. Sparrows are on the decline in many places and therefore its important to know not just where they are seen, but also where they are not.
So list all the different kinds of birds you see on your walk. When doing so, it’s important to also note the location, date, start time and end time of your walk, and the rough distance you covered. Send us your notes from your field diary at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you see sparrows in your balcony, garden, in your neighbourhood or in your school, you and your friends could put out nest-boxes for them.
Making a nest-box at home is easy. You can use a shoe-box into which you have cut a hole of about 8cm diameter in the side. Fix the lid firmly in place. Then you can suspend this home-made nestbox from the ceiling of your porch or balcony. Just make sure that it’s not attached to a pillar or pipe or tree, because then it will be easy for predators like squirrels and rats to get in. You can paint your nestbox so that it doesn’t look out of place. You can also wrap it with tape or paper. If you are using a shoe box, do make sure to replace it every year. Here is a really nice one-page report about sparrows in Indian cities and an example of how you can make a sparrow nest box.
You are most likely to succeed in attracting sparrows if there is a population of sparrows not too far from your home. If there are no sparrows within a reasonable distance (say 1km), it’s unlikely that your nestbox will be found by them.
In some parts of India, a sparrow flying into your home denotes good luck (especially if it then builds a nest in your home). Ask an elder in your family if they know of any such beliefs about sparrows.
Also, ask them sparrow stories they know from their childhood. Perhaps the one about the sparrow and the crow, or the sparrows and the monkey. Many of your elders may have had sparrows nesting in their homes. Ask them about it and write down their experiences in your field diary. Send us a sparrow story to email@example.com for a chance to win a field guide to identify birds.