September 1, 2015

Odisha Channel Bureau Kendrapara, Sep 1: The picturesque wetland and meadows within the Bhitarkanika national park has emerged yet again a congenial habitat for house sparrows.At a time when these species are fast disappearing, the sighting of these delicate birds is a positive development in flora and fauna profile of the national park.As many as 440 nesting sites of sparrows have been spotted along the mangrove-infested meadows in the core area of the national park.house-sparrowThe identified habitation sites of these winged species are Dangmal, Dakhin Mahinsamunda, Uttar Mahinsamunda, Kalibhanjdiha, Pataparia, Durgaprasad Diha, Satabhaya and Angari forest blocks.Sparrows were earlier found to be living in villages situated on the fringes of the national park.But these birds have left the human habitation areas.Now they seem to have preferred the human-interference free forest areas of Bhitarkanika, said forest officials.Though the census of these birds are yet to be undertaken, as many as 440 nesting sites were sighted during the course of headcount of monsoon birds that has taken up earlier this month, according to Bimal Prasanna Acharya, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division. However, over a thousand house sparrows might have made Bhitarkanika their permanent home, he added. These pint-sized birds are incidentally not listed in any schedule of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.Over the years, they are disappearing fast and its sighting has become rare.“The human habitations thriving on the fringes of the national park have turned out to be blessing for the house sparrows.The villagers have built many straw thatched houses.Twigs from the straw come handy for sparrows’ nesting.They feed on the grains from the crop fields”, DFO Acharya told.In most other areas the grains and insects the sparrows feed on have gone out of sight due to man-made factors.The birds used to throng the countryside and the urban landscape.The increasing use of pesticides in agriculture fields mainly has spelt doom.These birds steadily perished as grain-feeding birds failed to withstand toxicity.Urbanisation and fast disappearing traditional straw-thatched houses have contributed to the shrinkage of their habitat.However, farmers in Bhitarkanika grow saline-resistant paddy.There is less use of pesticides here.Sparrows are averse to eating grains grown through application of pesticide.Thus grains here suit the food chain of these birds.

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