Sparrow - Your Backyard Companion

March 19, 2011

World Sparrow Day on March 20

Pramod Mane, a young and enthusiastic college student of Mumbai was prompted to get into the amazing world of sparrows, those tiny little chirping birds, by the falling of a dry tiny branch of a tree on him when he was sitting and chatting with his dudes. When he explained this to me I could not help recalling the famous incident of Isaac Newton’s chance encounter with a falling apple and his unraveling the hidden secrets of the universe, for the similarity of the incident, if not for the gravity of it.

What began as a curiosity to know the cause of the falling branch and the subsequent quest to be familiar with the sparrows, brought Pramod Mane face to face with the reality of the dwindling population of sparrows. His painstaking efforts to provide food, shelter and water for these birds paved the way for setting up Sparrow Shelter Club in Mumbai in 2007. Since then this NGO has been working relentlessly to save and enhance the population of sparrows in its own little way.

Nature has always fascinated humans with its mystique, timeless allure, infinite wealth and innumerous surprises. The land, the water, the wildlife, the trees and plants with their soothing and enchanting noise have drawn humans towards nature, to explore its immeasurable bounty, beauty and majesty, a feast to both the eyes and the ears.

Not long ago we were all very familiar with the chirping and hopping of the sparrows – Passer domesticus - (gubbacchi in Kannada) in our house roofs, courtyards, balconies and in our neighborhood, fascinating us with their tiny frame, gentle appearance and familiar squeak. As the world has become more and more technology-oriented making our lives more comfortable and happy-go-lucky, these tiny and fascinating creatures are slowly vanishing and are almost on the brink of extinction depriving us of the little pleasures they brought us with their just being around us. A new ray of hop has emerged in the form of ‘Sparrow Shelter Club’, started by Pramod Mane, who has come out with the concept of bird houses or ‘Sparrow Shelters’ in order to prevent their further decline.

“We have developed bird houses which are scientifically approved. I have experimented with these boxes for nearly three years from 2003 onwards and in 2007 I started this club. I tried creating different types of boxes of different shapes and sizes and installed them and found that sparrows built their nests only in some particular types of boxes only. So I have started creating and distributing/selling only those boxes liked by the sparrows. In the last three years we have distributed about 5000 bird houses in Mumbai and other places. About 35 to 40000 baby sparrows have been born as a result of these bird houses. But nearly 100 sparrows die and we are able to save only 5% of the sparrows. We need to work on a bigger scale to achieve substantial results”, says Mane whose enthusiasm and high energy levels are almost contagious.

Creating Awareness

Pramod Mane, who works as a treasurer in Mahatma Phule Education Trust, Dharavi, set up by his father, ex MLA Baburao Mane, has a small workshop, adjacent to the school, where a carpenter creates those tiny bird houses of various shapes and sizes. These wooden boxes are then painted with bright colours to make them attractive. “These bird houses are scientifically approved and are created to protect these small birds, their eggs and chicks from other birds. Through these bird houses we are educating people and trying to create awareness about sparrows and love for birds”, Mane emphasizes.

The club encourages bird lovers to become members by paying a nominal fee. In return these members are given a sparrow shelter to install in their premises to provide a safe haven for these birds to nest and multiply. Pramod has given one such bird house to cricket god Sachin Tendulkar and he wants to rope in many more celebrities in order to create awareness. When youngsters of his age are busy only with their career and find myriad ways to have fun and enjoyment as a pastime, Pramod Mane’s devotion, dedication and sincere concern and the work he does for the cause of these tiny creatures is praiseworthy.

House sparrows usually live close to human habitats and the need to install sparrow shelters at homes has become all the more necessary because of the disappearance of traditional architecture in our country. Unlike other birds sparrow never build their nests on trees. Earlier, traditional roof houses with their gaps and holes allowed sparrows to build nests in the holes, roofs and crevices of old houses. Modern unfriendly architecture, however, has deprived the sparrows of this facility to nest and lay eggs. Sparrow shelter is another way of inviting these sparrows into our courtyards and provide them a natural and friendly environment to exist. This shelter is a cute little wooden box with an opening just enough for a sparrow to enter, inspect and build its nest but is too small for any other birds to get in.

These bird houses are easy to maintain. After four nestings the box which gets filled has to be emptied. Food and water should be provided at a little distance and the box once installed should be disturbed unnecessarily as do not like to be disturbed, cautions Pramod.

Sparrow Shelter Club has been holding exhibitions, conducting promotion activities, has takes up the task of healing wounded birds and has been conducting awareness campaigns in schools, colleges, housing societies, parks, malls and in other public places. The club has also installed shelters in college campuses, university campus, BMC & private garden farmhouses and in Rajbhavan. Seminars and presentations have also been held in Ruparel and Ruia and other colleges in Mumbai, to create awareness among youth.

Pramod, is quite sincere and passionate about the mission he has undertaken. The world of sparrows has mesmerized him and he knows a great deal about sparrows. He says sparrows are monogamous and quite attached to each other. They do no migrate but rather face challenges in their familiar surroundings. “If one of partners goes out and does not come back the partner will wait for it for week or so and finally it dies. But it never changes its partner. Similarly when a male partner inspects and finds a suitable place for nest it cries continuously for the female partner. Once he gets his partner together they inspect the place thoroughly. Only if they both like they start building a nest”, he says.

Pramod has learnt these details by putting a ring around injured sparrows and observing them on the basis of the data he has maintained.

Pramod and his Club is also taking up the tend other injured birds like squirrel, Kite (bird), an owl and bats. If people find injured birds, they immediately contact him or the volunteers of his club who attend to it.

During Makar Sankrathi, a glass coated thread (manja) used for kite flying results in injuring many birds including sparrows. Pramod, who is the President of this Club sent a press note during the Makara Sankranti asking people to be careful not to injure these birds while flying kite and to contact him in case they come across injured birds.

Population of house sparrows has been on the decline at a frightening rate which has prompted a UK based Royal Society of Protection of Birds to enlist this bird in the list of ‘endangered avian species’ on the basis of the study they conducted. It is said that this decline is sharp in urban areas where these birds have almost vanished failing to survive in the hostile environs created by humans. Many reasons including the disappearance of greenery, global warming, modern architecture, haphazard use of garden pesticides resulting in killing insects and unscientific mushrooming of mobile towers, are cited as some of the major culprits for the declining population of sparrows.

Bird Gallery

Sparrow Shelter Club is now planning to come out with a bird gallery just at the entrance of the Mahatma Phule College to shelter more than 100 sparrows. Mane is working diligently to give wings to his dreams and open the gallery within 4 months to coincide with World Environment Day on June 5. “The bird gallery will cost around 3.5 lakhs and without waiting for donations I am going ahead with my plans. I have received a few thousands in the form of donations. I am going to avail bank loan to build a 20X 40 feet and 15 feet high bird gallery in the premises of the college”, says a determined Mane. Mane has taken the guidance of Prof Kamalakar Jaripatke of Ruia College in this endeavor. Declining grasslands are one of the causes for rapid dwindling of the population of sparrows. The young ones of sparrows survive mainly on insects.

However, extensive use of pesticides and insecticides in farms and gardens have created scarcity of insects. The echo-friendly unleaded petrol, the combustion of which produced toxic compounds like methyl nitrite kills insects depriving the young ones from their vital food. Pramod, therefore, plans to develop natural grass around the gallery to attract insects and provide fodder for the tiny sparrows.

Studies and research reveal that the population of house sparrows has declined worldwide. It has disappeared from about a third of the global land space. It has totally vanished from many parts of India as well.

According to a study by an environmentalist group in Kerala, population of house sparrow is on the decline in sites like railways stations, warehouses and human dwellings, which were the usual dwelling places for the sparrows. Among the many causes, mobile radiation is said to be the main culprit for the decline of population of sparrows. It is well known that birds are sensitive to the magnetic radiation emanating from mobile towers, which often confuse and disorient them. It also affects their reproductive behavior.

Pramod Mane is an optimist who believes that his efforts will not go in wane. “If every family installs a bird house and provides a conducive atmosphere for the little birds I am sure the population of sparrows will increase considerably”, he argues.

New technology is an inseparable part of development. But it should not be at the cost of our nature which has sustained us with its enigma and infinite charisma. It does not require spending money or is not time consuming. All that is needed is little consideration in the form of shelter, food and water for nature’s tiny creatures like sparrows, which would go a long way in making our lives more meaningful and worthy living for. Pramod and his team deserve kudos for the good work they have undertaken. The least we can do is render our support by installing a bird shelter in our courtyards.

For more details visit the website or e-mail

by Florine Roche (Courtesy: Daijiworld Weekly)
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Comment on this article

  • Deepak Chhutani, Lodha complex, IRIS A Bldg, Majiwada, Thane west

    Thu, Sep 15 2016

    This is Deepak from Lodha complex, Majiwada, Thane west and want to know about install sparrow house in my balcony. Need ur assistance

  • Sanjiv Sardesai, Andheri west Mumbai

    Fri, Jul 31 2015

    I would like to purchase a sparrow house and feeder for birds. Pl guide

  • Pranav modi, Mumbai

    Sat, May 23 2015

    Contact details from where I can buy few sparrow nests pls

  • sunil sharma , mumbai

    Sat, Jul 12 2014

    plz send me ur add or phn no so i cn buy these houses for donation

  • kevin machado, sanpada

    Tue, Mar 19 2013

    I am very much intereseted in preserving the sparrow species .Kindly let me know how can i buy a sparrow home

  • jagdish Chand, new delhi

    Fri, Dec 14 2012


  • Ketan, Mumbai

    Sat, Nov 24 2012

    If you are looking for sparrow house or for an NGO (Sparrow's Shelter)who work for small chirpy birds, here is the website link and you will get more detail or feel free to contact on 9867633355 (Mr. Pramod Mane founder of Sparrow's Shelter NGO)

  • Smita Gawande, Thane

    Mon, Jun 18 2012

    i wish to purchase sparrows shelter. please send me price and places in Mumbai / Thane from where i can purchase the same.

  • Manish Vyas, Belapur -navi mumbai

    Mon, Mar 19 2012

    I want to buy the sparrow house. Pl give me the address.

  • amit, mumbai

    Tue, Jul 26 2011

    I want to buy sparrow houses for sparrows.sparrow has created a nest on the pipeline of cables on the top of my main door outside my home entrance and babies are falling and geting death.please somebody give me contact details of the shop so that i can immediately buy sparrow houses.

  • Dr. Manish Bhatia, Kolhapur

    Thu, Apr 21 2011

    I was searching for information on saving a sparrow chick which fell off its nest in my varandah and found your site. I have put hte chick back in the nest but am unaware if I should be giving some kind of food. There were two chicks in the nest and the sparrow used to repeatedly come and feed them The chick that fell off had a insulation tape got stuck to both its feets and hence could not get back. I have just removed the insulation tape with gloved hands and have put it back. Please suggest some food for the chick. It is young and can fly a distance of only 10-15 inches.

  • f .marker, mumbai

    Sun, Mar 27 2011

    i wish to purchase sparrows shelter one with the yellow colour and red roof. please advise price and from where i can purchase the same.

  • madhumati pawar, mira road

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    I appreciate the love showered by pramod mane and his club on sparrows.The efforts made by him for this awareness are very inspiring. To save the treasure of nature - tiny lovable sparrows is the need of time. I wish to install A sparrow HOME in my gallery because sparrows keep searching for a safe place in my ceiling fan's conical attachment quite frequently.So one home for them please.I will convey this msg to all my friends. Promise !

  • usha, Mangalore

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    It is really good to read about sparrows. I have tried one at my home. Three years back, I just hanged (of course, firmly) an empty shoe box in my flat's balcony. After testing my intention for about a month, two sparrows started residing in it. Many a times a hear noises from little ones from the box. I never tried to go near it since they may feel that I will harm them. Every morning and evening we have to put about a spoon of rice on the ground and immediately they come and have it and also carry for the young ones.

    If you forget to put rice, they enter pooja room and eat the rice near the photoes. They wake us up  every morning with their sweet chirping sound. They have become a part of our routine life. My kids never forget to ask me about their food etc. I earnestly request everybody to keep an empty box with a small opening on a safer place and have the pleasure of living with these pets. It is really good. Please try it.

  • Richa, Dehradun

    Sat, Mar 19 2011

    made me cry just reading this and similar articles... So many of the misty childhood memories are with these birds in the back. I applaud your efforts in saving the sparrow!

  • Eric D'Cunha, Mangalore/Kanha Tiger Reserve,Madhya Pradesh.

    Sat, Mar 19 2011

    Very thought provoking article.The changing human lifestyle has not only caused a sharp decline in the Common House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) population but also has caused a decline in many common bird species that we used to see around Mangalore.Rapid urbanisation and felling of trees is causing loss of suitable nesting sites for birds that inhabited these ares for centuries.As summer is fast approaching at least what we can do towards Bird Conservation is to keep small water pots in our gardens so that they can quench their thirst.Hang these pots at a convenient height on a tree so that the birds can perch and have some clean water(NOT necessarily Filtered Water) and quench their thirst.

  • Pristine Rogina Dsouza, Gurunja,Shirva,Dubai

    Sat, Mar 19 2011

    Can i have one of that kind please...

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Sat, Mar 19 2011

    The House Sparrow is a very social bird. It also roosts communally, its nests are usually grouped together in clumps, and it engages in a number of social activities, such as dust and water bathing, and "social singing". The House Sparrow feeds mostly on the ground, but it flocks in trees and bushes. For the larger part it is sedentary, rarely moving more than a few kilometers. An adult House Sparrow mostly feeds on the seeds of cereals and weeds, but it is opportunistic and adaptable, and eats whatever foods are available.
    There are more than 40 varities of sparrows and they lay a clutch of 5-6 eggs.
    The number of sparrows in India is dwindling and that too very fast. We fellow citizens can do our bit to save this bird. We should promote the local carpenters to make Sparrow-houses through recycled ply pieces & waste tins.
    Why can’t the school take this as their 9th standard craft project and take the sparrow that they made and place it in an appropriate place back home. This will definitely increase the sparrow population in our location.

  • dayanand acharya, mangalore

    Sat, Mar 19 2011

    please send me a sparrow house thru
    courier,and ofcourse let me know the charges for the same

  • Joviel D'Cruz, Udupi

    Sat, Mar 19 2011

    I appreciate the concern towards the sparrows. The writer says "during the Makara Sankranti asking people to be careful not to injure these birds while flying kite and to contact him in case they come across injured birds.". I request him to have similar concerns towards the human beings, those who get injured by the road accidents, goondaism, natural calamities, etc.
    Instead of wasting time for unneccesary topics, do something for the walfare of the humans !!!

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