A chirpy tale


A bunch of students of Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, Chennai is chasing sparrows. The students hope that all of us will wake up to their calls when their SOS (Save Our Sparrows) project takes big flight and the birds flock our neighbourhoods.

“I grew up in the northern part of Chennai. I have liked sparrows from my childhood,” says Ratnavel Pandian (IIIrd Year, Bio-tech), a member of the project group. “With their obvious drop in numbers and people being oblivious to it, we wanted to do something to bring them back.” The window for action opened when Dr. T. Murugavel, Head, Department of HSS, shepherded the starting of an Eco Club last year and named it CARE (Concern, Awareness, Responsibility for Environment).

“SOS – Save our Sparrows was one of the projects of CARE,” said Dr. Murugavel. “Students went around the city and identified areas where sparrows were found. Based on primary data we started from north Chennai — where the population was substantial.” Up till now, most of north Chennai (except Perambur and its environs) has been covered, he says, and it has spread to Vadapalani, Trustpuram, Anna Nagar, Aminjikarai and Shenoynagar. Houses with nesting spots are photographed, birds are counted and all data are marked on a map.

It is around this time that WIPRO floated the EARTHIAN initiative, calling students to submit a project that would make a difference to the environment. SOS was one of the proposals that went from SVCE. “We thought of expanding the project,” said Ratnavel.

Instead of just counting sparrow numbers, he and his co-sparrow-sympathisers Sai Sudhir, Suresh Babu, Venkata Prashanth and Nandhini wanted action that would have a direct impact on the sparrows. Why not artificial sparrow nests in the form of wood, cardboard, Sunboard and plastic boxes, suggested Dr. Murugavel.

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