The lost birds

By Qurat Mudasar
Tue, 04, 24

Qurat Mudasar nostalgically writes about singing birds that once graced our sky. Now, the absence of singing birds speaks volumes about the changing landscape of our environment. Read on...

The lost birds


Silent sky mourns the absence of singing birds, yearning for their return to fill the air with melody once again...

In the echoes of childhood memories, there’s a poignant absence - a silence once filled with the playful chirpings of sparrows and the vibrant calls of parrots. Every day, a sparrow would grace our balcony, a small singing bird that endeared itself to children, encouraging them to reach out. Many a time we would catch glimpses of parrots as they gracefully soared through the air. I remember those days when house birds like sparrows and parrots frequented our small balcony; their presence was a source of simple joy and wonderment.

Yet, as time marches on, we find ourselves bereft of their company, longing for the melodic symphony that once graced our skies. The absence of singing birds speaks volumes about the changing landscape of our environment and the toll it takes on our collective well-being. Research suggests that the soothing sounds of birdsong play a therapeutic role in our lives, alleviating anxiety and nurturing our mental health. Indeed, the disappearance of these feathered friends leaves a void in our hearts and minds, a void that cannot be filled by the hustle and bustle of modern life.

As I traverse the halls of my university campus, reminiscing about my childhood, I am struck by the absence of sparrows and parrots, once familiar sights that have now become elusive shadows. The desperate search for these house birds yields no results; their absence is a stark reminder of the environmental degradation that plagues our cities.

I spent an entire week searching for these house birds, but to no avail. I had heard about Kabootar Chowk and decided to spend hours waiting there in the hope of catching a glimpse of the elusive sparrows. As I returned home feeling hopeless, luck seemed to smile upon me - I finally saw them. There, in the hands of a man asking people to release the birds for goodwill, yes! I saw them. However, my joy turned to dismay as I realised that they were being caught again shortly after release, their feathers trimmed too short to fly.

The lost birds

Unplanned urbanisation, pollution, and habitat loss have decimated population of birds, leaving behind a desolate landscape devoid of life. In Pakistan, while the contribution to climate change is only 4 per cent, the impact of unplanned urbanisation and industrialisation is severe. Deforestation and the proliferation of non-native species aggravate the decline of these precious birds, affecting their nesting habits and threatening their eggs.

The decline of singing birds is not merely a loss of biodiversity; it is a warning sign of the imminent threat posed by climate change and human activity. Despite the grim statistics and dire warnings from the World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), little has been done to address the root causes of their disappearance. According to a report on sparrows, their populations are already on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) ‘Red List’ of Threatened Species, where Greater London lost nearly 70 per cent of its sparrows between 1994 and 2001.

In Pakistan, where urbanisation and industrialisation run rampant, the plight of these avian treasures is often overlooked. No population survey on birds has been conducted, so we are not on the ‘Red List,’ and saving sparrows has not been a priority. Pakistani metropolitan cities have air quality that ranks among the world’s most polluted cities, further driving away these human-friendly birds.

The lost birds

How lamenting it is that our future generation, our children, are deprived of the companionship of these singing birds, missing out on the joys we once cherished. Climate change poses a significant threat to the survival of sparrows and parrots in Pakistan, yet research efforts to assess its impact on their populations remain insufficient. The continuing decline in the populations of parrots and sparrows underscores the urgent need for conservation action.

The silent sky screams continuously, echoing the detrimental effects of pollution on our environment and health. The declining population of these human-friendly birds intensify the polluted environment, impacting our health and mental peace.

The question remains - what is our responsibility in saving these precious creatures and preserving our environment? The answer lies in collective action and a commitment to change. By planting trees, creating green spaces, and advocating for sustainable practices, we can create a future where singing birds once again grace our sky with their melodious tunes. We need to grow trees in our houses, plant small pots on our balconies, and create a green environment on our streets. Let us heed the call of the birds and work together to ensure a brighter, greener future for generations to come. It’s time to break the silence and reclaim the lost symphony of nature!

The writer is a development professional. She can be reached at