INDIA. New Delhi: Till a few years ago, Delhi used to be the favourite breeding ground for migratory birds. Delhi had a lot of green cover that served as nesting grounds for many resident birds. I remember seeing avian species like egrets, ibis, kingfishers, coloured storks, flycatchers, bee-eaters, etc. in my residence area. My morning wake-up alarm used to be the sweet chirpings of these birds. Resident birds such as sparrows, spotted owls, parrots, etc. used to regularly visit the balcony of my apartment and feed on the grains I used to spread out and drink water from the water bowl in summers. The bird sounds and sightings always quenched my much-needed feeling of closeness to nature in the city life.
But with the construction of hi-rise buildings, Delhi had undergone rapid urbanisation over the course of the past few decades, and soon became a concrete jungle and almost all the green patches vanished. The birds followed as the available habitat for bird species such as natural forests and wetlands also declined. The morning noises of sparrows, parrots in the multi-dimensional urban matrix vanished. Sparrows bid goodbye to the city especially after the installation of mobile phone towers.
This led to an imbalance in the nature in the city too. Numerous species of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and etc. help in maintaining a healthy food chain within the micro-ecosystem. Their absence resulted in increased medical ailments. The mosquito population drastically increased and so did diseases associated with them like malaria, dengue, etc.
Corrective measures – building second homes
It was high time and the right time for societies that are concerned about avian life and the environment to step in. Many citizens also came forward and tried to help. The process is very slow, but it is better than nothing. Soon, Delhi saw the creation of a few bio-diversity parks on the river Yamuna and the efforts started bearing fruits.
The youth also pitched and mention of one such effort is a must mention in this restoration of the bird population in New Delhi. Centre for Earth Studies at Indraprastha College, Delhi recently recorded a sighting of 53 winged visitors at the 21-acre campus which has plenty of open green spaces. The centre has created habitat islands that act as excellent habitats for birds by planting big trees like neem, Ashok, etc. with smaller and fast-growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs, and fruit trees such as mango, Jamun, etc.
The location of the college with the river Yamuna on one side and the North Delhi Ridge on the other was also an advantage. The green patches in the middle of Delhi’s urban landscape have not only improved the ecology of Delhi but also allowed space for the bird population to flourish.
The students and authorities at IP College hope that these numbers are just a beginning as the main season of migratory birds, winter is still a few months away. This eco-friendly initiative must be lauded and other schools and colleges, especially those with huge campuses, should follow their path and see how we can bring back our favourite sparrow back.
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