An Indian Information Services (IIS) officer Sanjay Kumar from Bihar, has set out on a mission to save the state bird of Bihar-'sparrows'. Deeply concerned about the cruelties that the winged creatures are subjected to, 'Save Sparrow, Save Environment' has now become a motto in his life.
The house sparrow is the state bird of Bihar. Sadly, the species called Passer domesticus is facing the threat of extinction. This is not just in the state, but all over India, The New Indian Express reported.
Kumar is the assistant director of the Patna unit of the Press Information Bureau (PIB). Popularly known as 'Sparrow Man' of Patna', the 52-year-old officer loves these creatures. He talks to them, calls them over and even plays with them.
Little Service For Sparrows
The bird enthusiast has installed small shelters around his house. He starts off his day by filling the water pots and placing bird feed in these shelters. Sparrows in large numbers flock in for an early meal on calling upon by their master, for whom the whole scene is nothing but pure delight. In addition to sparrows, other birds like parakeets are also spotted around Kumar's house.
"My life — before and after office — begins and ends with this little service for the sparrows and other birds. They understand me, and I have started understanding them, not through language but by expressions of love and similar gestures," says Kumar.
The officer's house and the surrounding area have a fair share of greenery, which makes it home to a lot of such creatures. Kumar's interest, chiefly, is in the variety used to thrive in concrete settings without being dependent on trees not too long ago.
With the tiny creatures around, he feels a sense of comradeship. He feeds them with grains and biscuits, and at times, even chocolates. He says the birds talk to him in a language that looks relatively unknown yet familiar. As soon as he reaches home after work, the sparrows do not stop chirping, much like demanding children around their favourite adult.
"When I place biscuits on the balcony or even outside my house, near the trees and in these makeshift nests, these sparrows come in for their share," says Kumar.
He also carries a professional camera often when he spends time with his 'friends'. "I have captured them in almost every activity — flying, fighting, chirping and frolicking. I observe their behaviour, longevity and nesting habits," says Kumar to The New Indian Express.
Sparrows' Number Declined
Sparrow (Goraya) is also culturally prominent in Bihar, as many people lived a part of their childhood with the bird's chirping. According to the Society for Environmental and Sustainable Development, due to globalisation and industrialisation, there has been a lot of change in human lifestyle, which directly impacts the sparrows' population. The house of man has grown, but the heart has become small for this little sparrow. Due to which its number has decreased from 60 to 80% in the past decades.
Recalling his journey, the officer states that he started this mission back in the summer of 2007 when a thirsty sparrow had entered his kitchen. Out of his kind gesture, he had placed some water for it, which it drank and flew away. Kumar then realised it is time to save the creature and has dedicated his whole life to this mission since then.
The Patna-based government servant keeps some share of money from his salary each month for the arrangement of the birds. "I have at home bundles of paddy around the year and hang them from the railings and trees. I also get a good quantity of food grains from friends," he said, adding that he has received assistance in kind from Gujarat also.
Inspired by the initiative, many local youths have also come forward in this regard and have set up nests and water pots outside their houses for sparrows and other birds.
Besides feeding them, Kumar also organises webinars and exhibitions regularly to make people aware of the threat of extinction of sparrows and other species of birds. "At my prodding, over 2,000 persons have joined me in a chain of efforts across the country to save the house sparrow and other birds from the onslaught of urbanised activities," he said.
Meanwhile, state forest minister Niraj Singh Babloo and former deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi have recently appreciated Kumar's efforts and rewarded him for his work.
Kumar believes rising air and noise pollution levels are the major factors for the declining numbers of sparrows in recent times. He also clarified that the radiation from mobile towers does not contribute to the death of sparrows.
Urging people to come forward, Kumar asserted that a campaign should be launched across the state to save house sparrows and other birds, which play an essential role in the fragile ecosystem.