While I appreciate the red alarm that your story on Missing Birds strikes for
the dwindling number of birds, I have to make a few remarks about the contents. I may
sound a bit blunt, for which I seek your pardon beforehand. The article is not restricted
to the city birds, which are normally dependant on human settlements. So I consider
sparrows, crows and pigeons only as the city birds. Your article rightly brings out the survival of
crows due to their adaptability to changing circumstances. But the dwindling number of
sparrows is attributed to infant mortality due to starvation on account of
their not being fed the soft worms and caterpillars, which are killed by the use of
pesticides. Sure it is a nice way to get rid of these pests, but do the birds eat all the
worms to the extent required by a farmer to save his crop? If not, can he reserve a plot
of his farm untreated for the birds to take care and feed their young ones?
Similarly Smt. Lalitha Vijayans explanation that urban people spraying their
gardens with pesticides; the pesticides finding their way to the water bodies; and city
birds drinking this polluted water and dying, seems more academical than real. In my
rosiest dreams, I cannot see people in a city having their gardens, watering them, using
Long ago, perhaps in Science Today, I had read an article on the life cycle of
sparrows. It was stated that the sparrows are the timidest birds and abandon their food at
the slightest distrubance. This poor eating habit causes tuberculosis, which was the main
reason for their death. The article was based on a large number of autopsies on the dead
Also, the death due to predators is a natural occurrence and not specific to cities. I
had come across the debate of use of natural predators to control pests, before I retired
from Horticulture Department. The entomological studies have shown that the breeding rate
of the pests far exceeds that of the predators, which is perfectly in keeping with the
Natures Laws. So the argument of the reign of natural predators against pests
remains more theoretical than practical.
S M Chandawarkar
I have gone through the last edition of GT and it was very informative. There is no doubt
that birds are disappearing in urban areas, but these are also dwindling in rural areas
too, due to changing socio-climatic structure. Felling of trees and use of agro-chemicals
may be one important reason.
Many of these birds are bio-indicators of environmental health and their very sight
generates in us a feeling of happiness to our life. As such their survival is essential as
that of ours. My team is working on safety issue of Diclofenac in vultures in
association with BNHS. I feel we must also emphasise on our ancient ways to conserve
bio-diversity and environment.
Congratulations for the good work being done by DTE and GT.
Dr D Swarup
Head, Division of Medicine and Incharge, Centre for Wildlife, IVRI, Izatnagar
There is something I feel very strongly about. Cant we get our children to start a
campaign to force battery manufacturers (big, small, cell) to create a countrywide
facility to take back used batteries? Something as simple as a collection box for used
batteries in every shop that sells new batteries, and maybe a nominal return price to
encourage returns. It really worries me to see the way we consume and discard batteries
without a thought. Perhaps we could get children passionate about the safe disposal of
dead batteries? Its their world that were polluting.
Long may you continue your good work.
Shyamala K Das