Sparrows and Pigeons

IMG_0757Sparrows were part of my childhood and household. They used to frequent our home during breeding seasons. They used to build their tiny nest in the gap between ceiling and fan, sometimes on the rings meant for jhoola. Many mornings we were woken up by their chirping especially in summers when we would be in deep slumber with cool early morning breezes.  I do not recollect whether I used to complain about their waking me up or the twigs dropped from their nest which would land right on my bed. My mother used to throw husks and small grain wastes after cleaning grains. They used to eat them happily and fly all at once. We siblings used to enjoy watching them do so. Often I wanted to touch them but elders would warn not to disturb them.”if the sparrow is touched by human beings , it is outcast in her clan and sometimes might be killed by her clan for the sin” so I was told. I kept my distance and they too did but nevertheless they remained invisible part of my surroundings. I do not know whether the same family used to frequent to lay and then hatch eggs . Sometimes we could hear chirping of tiny sparrows as if calling for their parents. The nest was so high and tiny sparrows were so well hidden that I could not never have a look at them. I did not realise when they stopped coming.

Until I went to Mumbai, I had not seen pigeons in numbers. In my hometown, we used to spot them mostly near masjid where people used to feed them after prayers. In Mumbai  I experienced the nuisance of pigeons for the first time – the litter, foul they create everywhere they land. Since then they have been cohabiting wherever I stayed in India. Now I see them in hordes. In summer I keep water so that they would not destroy my watered plants and destroy they do anyways. They pluck tender leaves, harm plants for twigs. A friend advised that I should leave food for them. I have not done that since I do not want to encourage their breeding and spread litter all over. Pigeons are lazy birds and it is my impression.

Agreed that they are part of our Eco systems but why are they growing in numbers everywhere? Is it happening at the expense of smaller birds?

Sparrows were so integral part of my growing.  There are fables about lazy , selfish crow and generous , hardworking sparrows. When a mother feeds a toddler , her story telling used to start with morsel meant for sparrows followed by morsel for each person the toddler knows. A delicate girl child would be fondly referred as small she -sparrow. Sparrow had connotations of delicatessen, tiny, loved by all. Sparrow was a part of culture , vocabulary and fables. I do not think my niece would make any of these connections with sparrows other than some frictional characters.

To draw such parables for pigeon would be unthinkable .

Meanwhile  at my workplace I see sparrows again as there many trees, water and feed bowls kept for them.


Polymer scientist, innovator and avid trekker. Lives in Hyderabad.

3 thoughts on “Sparrows and Pigeons

  • 22 June, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Exactly my sentiments Nivedita. I had grown up feeding sparrows but kids now wont be able to see how nice and loving they are once they know you feed them. One place where sparrows are plenty is Ooty. In fact so much that they scare away most of other birds.

    • 28 June, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      Thanks for sharing this information. I did not know about this. I think it is the menace of abundance be it sparrow or pigeons.

  • 19 July, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Exactly I understand your feelings… remembering my childhood attachment with sparrows. Thanks for sharing your views feeling happy with my childhood memories…..


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