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Declining house sparrow is 2015 Bird of the Year

Cities are increasingly becoming less sparrow-friendly by restricting the food and shelter options available to the species KEYSTONE

The Swiss Association for the Protection of Birds has designated the house sparrow as the “Bird of the Year” for 2015 to draw attention to the threats faced by the species in Switzerland. The little birds are finding it especially hard in urban areas.

This content was published on December 29, 2014 - 11:34
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Sparrow populations have declined by as much as 40% in some parts of the country since 1980, according to the association. The decline is more acute in cities due to the lack of green spaces and adequate nourishment. A shortage of insects and overdependence on human leftovers is retarding the growth of young sparrows.

Besides food, another constraint is the lack of nesting sites offered by modern buildings. These new buildings lack cavities that are favoured by sparrows for nest construction. In addition, these crevices are often dispensed with when buildings are renovated.

The Swiss Association for the Protection of Birds recommends that new buildings incorporate sparrow-friendly cavities in their design and that sparrows’ needs are kept in mind during building renovation.  It also calls for reduced use of pesticides in urban areas and the transformation of unused urban plots into grass meadows to ensure that there are enough insects for sparrows. 

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