A bird species that was once found everywhere, House Sparrows have now become a rare sight. The declining number of this bird population is due to a variety of reasons including loss of habitat, modern agriculture, lack of feed, electro-magnetic radiation, pollution, loss of tree cover, etc. If we do not intervene now to save and protect these beautiful and social birds, they may become extinct and lost forever.
Troubled by this fact since his younger years, Rakesh Khatri, dubbed India’s ‘Nest Man,’ has been striving to protect bird species, particularly Sparrows, by building them houses from eco-friendly materials. A businessman-turned-environmentalist, he has dedicated the past two decades of his life to environment conservation and strongly believes that building artificial homes can help birds sustain themselves in the urban sprawls.
It all started for him as a child, when birds would take shelter in his home during the nesting season. “I would be very fascinated by bird nests. The birds’ favourite spot would usually be our ceiling fans, and they would build a nest on it. My grandparents would ban us from switching on the fan until the eggs had hatched and the birdlings had learned to fly. They would warn us that if something were to happen to these birds, then we would be punished,” he fondly recalls.
Khatri moved to Delhi in the 1980s, when industrialization and urbanisation in India was at its peak. It wasn’t long before he realised his ears, which were attuned to birdsongs on the daily, couldn’t pick up a single chirp. Having noticed that there were no nests around, he started building bird homes and installing them in different parts of his colony.
He was ridiculed for his initial failed efforts, but it never deterred him. Khatri continued to make and instal nests for the next few days, until he saw success - four sparrows had taken shelter in his nests, which gave him the motivation he needed to keep going. What started with 20 nests in a small colony in Delhi has now turned into over 2.5 lakh bird nests all over India, earning him several laurels and recognition.
In 2012, Khatri established Eco Roots Foundation, which works tirelessly to conserve the ecosystem, environment, and biodiversity. He teaches people to make nests and has trained lakhs of students till date. He also hosts webinars and workshops centering on nest-building, climate change and e-waste recycling.
During the course of his journey, Khatri’s focus has been on building nests for House Sparrows, and protecting this small endangered bird species in the concrete jungle.“We’ve heard, since we were kids, that birds make their own nests. But a Sparrow builds its nest in nooks and corners of houses. At times, they would fall, or be preyed upon by crows,” he explains.
But there is still so much to be done for these helpless creatures, and Khatri hopes you can join him in his mission to protect this bird species from the threat of extinction. Your contributions can help him create a safer space for Sparrows and continue making nests to provide them homes.
“By donating even a single bird house, you’re providing a home to not one, but at least three generations of birds.”