Did you know that the ubiquitous house sparrow, a bird most of us have grown up seeing almost every day, has an entire day of the calendar dedicated to it?
March 20 is celebrated each year as World Sparrow Day and just over a month is left before the world will celebrate this day once more in 2018.
The first World Sparrow Day was observed in 2010 in different parts of the world. The idea to designate a day to the sparrow, an iconic representative of urban fauna, was sporadically born during an informal discussion in the office of the Nature Forever Society (NFS), an NGO in India dedicated to the conservation of sparrows and other common flora and fauna. In collaboration with various other Indian and international organizations like the Eco-Sys Action Foundation of France, the NFS took the initiative of earmarking a day for the Passer domesticus to raise awareness about the need to conserve urban biodiversity.
Why Dedicate A Day To Sparrows?
World Atlas had the opportunity of interviewing Mr. Mohammed Dilawar, the founder of the NFS and a renowned sparrow conservationist, about the upcoming event of the World Sparrow Day 2018. When asked about the significance of the World Sparrow Day, Mr. Dilawar informed us:
“The rationale for celebrating the World Sparrow Day is not only to commemorate the event for a day but to use it as a platform to underscore the need to conserve sparrows as well as the urban biodiversity.”
According to Mr. Dilawar, changing architecture, lack of food, increased use of pesticides, and a lack of an emotional connection between the sparrows and today’s younger generation, are among the biggest threats to the survival of these birds.
“The house sparrow was once the most common bird in the world, but in the past few years, this bird has been on the decline over much of its natural range, both in the urban and rural habitats. The decline of the house sparrow is an indicator of the continuous degradation the environment around us,” Mr. Dilawar warned.
However, despite its name, World Sparrow Day is not just about the sparrows, but also about other urban wildlife. Mr. Dilawar explained:
"The house sparrow represents many of the common bird species and is, in a sense, their ambassador. Therefore, the conservation of the house sparrow and its habitat will also help save much of the common biodiversity, which shares the habitat of the house sparrows.”
World Sparrow Day 2018: Celebrations Worldwide
Like every year, a plethora of events and activities like awareness campaigns have been planned to celebrate World Sparrow Day 2018. NFS, being the World Sparrow Secretariat, helps to connect interested individuals and organizations so they can plan and conduct various events on March 20.
For those who wish to participate or organize a World Sparrow Day event in their schools, colleges, offices or homes, all necessary information is available at their website.
As far as the primary event of the day, Mr. Dilawar had the following to say:
“The main world Sparrow Day event like every year will be organized in Mumbai where we brief about various conservation efforts being undertaken across the year, felicitate the NFS Sparrow Supporters and give awards to the Wipro Nature Forever Society Sparrow Award Winners.”
The Wipro NFS Sparrow Award recognizes the outstanding, unique, and inspirational contributions of individuals or organizations towards the conservation and protection of nature. Every year, the NFS receives several nominations for this award and selects the most deserving candidates for the award.
A Wake-Up Call
Conservationists across the world agree that the house sparrow is not as common as it once used to be. World Sparrow Day acts as a reminder every year about the need to safeguard this bird and other flora and fauna in and around us. Mr. Dilawar hopes that the celebrations on March 20 will boost sparrow conservation initiatives and activities by attracting the attention of government agencies and the scientific community towards the need to conserve urban biodiversity.
“World Sparrow Day also has a broader vision to provide a platform where people who are working on the conservation of the House Sparrow and other common birds can network, collaborate and exchange conservation ideas which will lead to better science and improved results", Mr Dilawar added."It aims to provide a meeting ground for people from different parts of the world to come together and form a force that can play an important role in advocacy and in spreading the awareness on the need of conserving common biodiversity or species of lower conservation status."
Those interested on more details concerning World Sparrow Day 2018 can look here.
Dr. Oishimaya Sen Nag is a freelance writer and editor from Kolkata, India. She loves to participate in wildlife conservation activities and to explore new places and cultures.