Madipakkam in Chennai becomes new home for sparrows

“Though the number of the small birds are declining, the census has helped us gain an insight into newer locations like Madipakkam where sparrows have nested and have been sighted”

Residents of Madipakkam can now up their collars as the locality has been found to be one of the very few places to have registered sparrow sightings.

According to the Madras Naturalists’ Society (MNS), one of the oldest associations for nature conservationists in Chennai, Madipakkam has become a haven for birds even at a time when their head count is steadily decreasing.

MNS undertook a four-month-long census (from March to July this year) to understand whether sparrows are comfortable with the present conditions of the city.

This being a followup to MNS’ rapid assessment survey conducted in 2012, residents of the city were invited to call and report sightings of sparrows in their locality during the project.

To make the census more accurate, MNS members also individually verified the sightings. The reports were fed into MNS’ sparrow atlas on their website, www.blackbuck.org. The details such as time, place, activity of the birds (flying, calling or feeding), additional notes about trees that they were found on/near, and their total count were added.

The results which were released on 20 December, revealed that Madipakkam is one of only five localities in Chennai to have the sightings of the sparrows this year, excluding five MRTS stations which also got featured in the list.
Speaking to News Today, MNS honorary secretary, G Vijay Kumar, said, “Unlike many other localities which got a mention this year, Madipakkam bagged not one but two spots with sightings at Ram Nagar South 12th Main Road and Kuberan Nagar Extension Third Cross Street.”

“Not only that, Madipakkam which never got featured in the list all these years has now gone past many usual names, which failed to have a sighting this time. Though the number of the small birds are declining, the census has helped us gain an insight into newer locations like Madipakkam where sparrows have nested and have been sighted. A total of 101 sightings have been recorded this year of which 78 were non-nesting sightings and 23 were of the birds nesting,” he added.

It is to be noted that in early October this year, Aravind A M (36), a resident of Sathasivam Nagar, Madipakkam, clicked a picture of a very rare bird in India, a Daurian Starling, while also registering it in an international Ornithology guide, thereby creating a record.

The bird usually breeds in East China, East Russia, and Mongolia and migrates to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, and Indonesia. He had also clicked a bird named Asian Pied Starling with its nest and eggs at Ram Nagar, Madipakkam. The bird is usually not found in Tamilnadu, but in Northern Andhra Pradesh, Northern Karnataka, Central and Northern India.

S Ben Raja