House sparrow

The first bird I saw when I went to visit my sister at Muscat was a laughing dove (the name derived from the laughing character of the call), and the second was a gundumani house sparrow. Or even an undappakru, if you ask me. Well, they aren’t some new variety which I have unearthed. Gundumani is slang for anything plump in my language, which is Malayalam by the way, and needless to say undappakru means just about the same, though may be less commonly used.

What struck me most about them was their stuffed-toy-like cuteness, nothing like the scrawny ones I saw back home, found at railway stations mostly (where I was once hailed by a one-legged sparrow). The last time I saw them in a different location was while on a drive, a couple valiantly trying to build a nest above the electric meter board of a small restaurant on the highway.

I had stood watching the busybodies for a while as they flitted to and fro excitedly chattering while picking up stuff, like lint, thread, dried leaves, also fresh ones. I heard from the local people that such nests when found are promptly destroyed since sparrows according to them are ‘a nuisance’.

Today is World Sparrow Day (When and why is World Sparrow Day celebrated?), its objective to raise awareness about the role of humans in the dwindling numbers, of sparrows, and other common birds.

©Shail Mohan 2017


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