City dwellers might consider sparrows an inexhaustible species – pecking at sidewalk hotdog buns and taking dust-baths in parks, the mundane brown birds are seemingly everywhere.
But in the U.K., the creatures are actually in the middle of a survival crisis. Urbanization is taking away their nesting sites and the insects they feed upon, and in the past three decades the country’s sparrow population has dropped by as much as 71 percent. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds now considers them among the most endangered species in the region, warning that their continued existence depends on “urgent action.”
Enter Aaron Dunkerton, a 22-year-old graduate of London’s Kingston University who has a clever idea: If we’re not going to stop throwing up habitat-negating structures, why not at least make them more friendly to wildlife? Dunkerton’s idea to save the sparrows is to manufacture bricks with lacunae inside accessible by a hole in the brick – both “specifically designed to meet the requirements of sparrows,” he says. That way, the birds can fly into them and build a nest, with humans strolling by remaining little the wiser.