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World Sparrow Day: Little-known facts about Sparrows that will surprise you

By Deepika
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    Years ago, people woke up to find the sparrows chirping in their backyard. A noisy lot, they took grains right from your hand if you had befriended them. Their close proximity to our dwellings has made them an inseparable part of our surroundings.

    Sparrows feeding

    Unafraid of humans, they demanded food or water with their loud chirping if you had forgotten to give them their regular share of food. We had an amazing time watching the bird family bond and children sat gazing at them as they picked up grain or splashed about us in muddy water.

    Slowly, and rather surreptitiously, the sparrows decreased in their population. Reasons for the fall in numbers are the increase in pollution, construction, and changes in weather.

    On World Sparrow Day, let us have a look at some interesting facts about the chirping bird

    • Sparrows are around 14-16 cm long. They are chirpy, with grey and brown colour. They have the ability to fly at the speed of 38.5 km/hour and can even reach a speed of 50 km/hour.
    • Males and female house sparrows can be easily distinguished by the feather colouration: males have reddish backs and a black bib, while females have brown backs with stripes.
    • Sparrows raise three nests of 3-5 eggs. Both male and female help to incubate the eggs for 12-15 days. The fledgelings usually fly out after 15 days.
    • Sparrows cannot be found in forests or deserts, unlike other birds. It prefers being in close association to human settlement, including urban and rural areas. They inhabit on ideal sparrow habitat nesting on buildings, roofs, and houses.
    • Once found in huge numbers across the world, the small bird is slowly making its way to the endangered list.
    • Sparrows usually fly at the speed of 24 miles per hour. When needed (in the case of danger), they can accelerate to the speed of 31 miles per hour.
    • Sparrow is a symbol of loyalty in Japan owing to its friendly nature and ability to live in groups.
    • Sparrows can survive between 4 and 5 years in the wild.
    • The oldest sparrow recorded till date is known to live for 15 years and 9 months!
    • House Sparrows have the capability of swimming underwater! Yes, it's true. Even though these birds are not water birds, it is observed that they can actually swim underwater to move from one place to the other.
    • These birds are aggressive and social, which increases their ability to compete with most native birds.
    • House Sparrows love to play with dust and soil. They spoil themselves in the dust as if trying to have a bath with it.
    • Male sparrows dominate over females during fall and winter, while females dominate during summer and spring.
    • House Sparrows, when nervous, flick their tails to ease out the tension.
    • They have contributed to science in a significant way. Approximately 5000 research papers have been published with these little birds as study species.

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