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Avon Wildlife Trust to celebrate World House Sparrow Day
Male House Sparrow on a rope
House sparrows (Passer domesticus) have declined in the last 25 years

Avon Wildlife Trust will be leading the UK celebrations for the first World House Sparrow Day on 20 March 2010.

The Bristol-based charity will be working longside organisations from as faraway as India, Kenya and Hong Kong.

The trust will is asking people to report their House Sparrow sightings, so they can build up a picture of where the bird is surviving in the region.

Scientists first started to notice a decline in the number of House Sparrows in the 1990s.

Avon Wildlife Trust is supported by over 17,500 local members and manages 38 sites as nature reserves and it is the largest membership-based wildlife organisation in the area.

Talking about the project, Avon Wildlife Trust's Steve Micklewright said: "We're joining wings across the world to celebrate the once common house sparrow and ask everyone to get involved in protecting this very special bird.

"It has been estimated that the numbers of house sparrows in the UK have declined by ten million in the UK in the last 25 years.

"When once they were a very common bird, they are now a species of conservation concern."

HOUSE SPARROW FACTS
Noisy and gregarious, they have managed to colonise most of the world
The "ultimate opportunist" is struggling to survive in the UK along with many other once common birds
They are clearly declining in both gardens and the wider countryside
Their recent decline has "earned" them a place on the Red List of the most endangered bird species
Found from the centre of cities to the farmland of the countryside, they feed and breed near to people
House Sparrows are absent from parts of the Scottish Highlands and are thinly distributed in most upland areas
They are "cheerful exploiters" of man's rubbish and wastefulness
They can be seen all year round and eat seeds and scraps
From The RSPB

Steve added: "There is no obvious explanation for the rapid decline of house sparrows from our cities and towns.

"Some people blame the increasing number of cats and magpies for their decline, but it is more likely to be a combination of factors including unsympathetic building renovations, a lack of insect food and house sparrows seem to have especially declined where pollution is a problem, but no one knows for sure."

The day is the brainchild of Mumbai based Mohammed Dilawar of India's Nature Forever Society.

Mohammed said: "We've noticed a rapid decline in house sparrows in India. Some places used to be home to hundreds of them but they're rapidly disappearing."

This disappearance of house sparrows is beginning to look like a global problem with reports of populations crashing in many European countries, especially in the United Kingdom.

In Bristol, the Avon Wildlife Trust is seeking to reverse the decline in house sparrows by involving the great British public.

Steve said: "Hundreds of people have already reported their sightings of house sparrows to help build up a picture of where they survive in our region.

"Many more are going to be growing nasturtiums in their gardens to play host to the insects that baby sparrows must be fed to stand a chance of ever growing up."

For some useful tips and to report your sighting, head to the Avon Wildlife Trust website.




SEE ALSO
Talk examines sparrow's decline
02 Mar 10 |  Nature & Outdoors
London sparrows in decline
20 Nov 08 |  England
Advice on attracting sparrows
20 Nov 08 |  UK


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