The sound of sparrows cheeping and chirping in hedgerows and on rooftops is one that always tends to bring a smile to your face. It’s hard to feel miserable while listening to their cheerful chatter. When you consider how loud they can sometimes be, you’d think that their populations were huge. Unfortunately, this is not the case. These unassuming little brown birds are simply gregarious and social creatures, living together in loose colonies. In the UK, their numbers have actually been in decline for the majority of the past four decades and have only recently begun to show any improvement. World Sparrow Day, on March 20th, is an opportunity to raise awareness of their plight.
The UK is home to two different species of sparrow, the tree sparrow and the house sparrow. Both are on the UK endangered list, with their conservation status listed as red, the highest status available. This means that that they are in urgent need of help. Monitoring suggests that the UK population of tree sparrows dropped by 93% between 1977 and 2008, whilst house sparrow populations dropped by 71%. The cause of their decline is unclear, though a number of factors have been suggested, including a lack of availability of their favoured foods, pollution, a lack of nesting sites, disease, predation, and the effects of electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones.
As well as the UK’s house and tree sparrows, there are twenty-five other species of true sparrow (of the genus Passer) worldwide, plus seventeen other closely related species. Despite this variety, it is the house sparrow that most people will be familiar with. This is because the house sparrow is the most widely distributed wild bird in the world. It is native to most of Europe, to the Mediterranean Basin, and to much of Asia, and has been introduced to many other regions, including parts of Australia, Africa, and the Americas. Despite it’s widespread presence, and it’s IUCN classification as being of least concern on the Red List of Endangered Species, many areas of the world have found their house sparrow population to be in decline. It is this decline that led to the creation of World Sparrow Day.
About World Sparrow Day
World Sparrow Day, on March 20th 2018, is a day dedicated to conveying just how important the conservation of house sparrows and other common birds is. It is also a day to celebrate the beauty of the common biodiversity that most of us tend to take for granted.
First celebrated in 2010, the day originated in India, but was swiftly adopted around the world as an annual event, and is now celebrated in over fifty countries. It was the brainchild of the Nature Forever Society and Indian conservationist, Mohammed Dilawar, who was named one of Time’s 2008 ‘Heroes of the Environment’ for his work helping the house sparrows in the Indian city of Nashik. The broader vision for the day is that it provides an opportunity for conservationists from around the world to network, collaborate and exchange conservation ideas. This will lead to improved scientific understanding whilst also spreading awareness of the need to conserve the common biodiversity of those species with lower conservation statuses.
How to celebrate World Sparrow Day
There are numerous ways in which you could celebrate World Sparrow Day, but if you’re stuck for ideas, here are a few suggestions.
Throw a party
This is a perfect way to raise awareness in both adults and children. You could make the event fancy dress and ask people to dress up as their favourite bird. You could run sparrow themed games, such as Pin-the-Beak-on-the-Sparrow, a sparrow treasure hunt, or a hop-a-thon. Most of all, you could have fun, while also helping the sparrows.
Join in with craft activities
These craft activities can be as easy or difficult as you wish to attempt. You could make a sparrow poster, decorated with feathers, or a sparrow mask. You could make a pompom sparrow chick. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you could build a bird feeder, a bird house, or maybe even a bird table.
Guidelines for Sparrow Nestbox
— Natureforever (@NatureForever) February 26, 2018
Celebrate sparrows through poetry, stories, art or performance. Share your celebration with friends, colleagues, and on social media, to spread the love for this little brown bird.
Watch the sparrows in your neighbourhood
If you have sparrows that visit your garden, you could help to further the scientific understanding of them and their current situation by spending a short time monitoring them. Spend fifteen minutes watching and count how many you see. Report your findings at the CBMI website. Alternately, you could go out on a sparrow watching walk, and see how many you can spot.
Arrange an eco-club event
If you belong to an eco-club, World Sparrow Day is a perfect time to host a photography competition, to arrange a talk about sparrows, or to air a documentary of film about their plight.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to register your event at the World Sparrow Day website. And once you’ve celebrated, why not submit an article to The Rooter to share how you celebrated the day.