March 20, 2009
My take on the common House Sparrow
Recently I questioned the disappearance of my Downys and after two weeks they have shown themselves again... thankfully.
Now, another question of "where are they now?" is where are all the Sparrows?
For many backyard birders, they would say this is a blessing to NOT have such commoners around as there can be many of them cleaning out your feeders daily. For me, I don't mind. A Sparrow adds life to the backyard and a sound-track. Multiply that by 30 or so and things get pretty busy as this also tends to help attract other species of birds to the property.
I truly believe it was the activity of the Sparrows at the feeders two summers ago that led Misfit to this yard. Misfit is the Budgie we caught out back and who now lives inside with us.
Going through my records for Project Feeder Watch, I see that I haven't had any major Sparrow activity since early December.
These days/weeks I can count from 0 to 6 at the most and more often than not it is 0.
So, is there bird feeder competition in the neighborhood? From what my ears tell me... no. I remember 3 summers ago somebody 4 houses over put up a bird feeder and it was much closer to the home of the pair of Cardinals who normally visited me... so I wasn't happy when they were over there much more than here. I knew before I saw the feeder because of all the songs and squawks in "the other yard".
Is it the pigeon remains still at the back yet to be cleaned up? Feathers and bits and pieces still on the ground. I also know there is the skeleton of a European Starling still laid out on the top of the rain barrel. Does that pose as a warning to the other birds? You know, "Hey, there's a dead one... danger!" I am waiting two more weeks until the yard waste pick-up starts before I get cleaning. Anyways, I don't think it is that either because other birds still come and go.
Recently a person for the Toronto Star made comments on the disappearance of Blue Jays and Cardinals in the downtown core. He was unhappy that the colorful birds are seldom seen downtown nowadays. He referred to the Sparrows and others as like the brown sludge and slush on the roadways and sidewalks... very unappealing.
I've always found Sparrows to be quite entertaining in the downtown area. They are much more people friendly. While they normally won't land on your hand as a Black Capped Chickadee might, they sure know where food sources are and stick pretty close by. I remember Angie and I sitting outside a Pizza Pizza and the Sparrows sat on top of the table next to us waiting for crust/crumb hand-outs. We'd toss tiny bits to them and they'd fly off someplace to eat it, returning moments later for more. So, in a sea of people in the downtown area, I think it's nice to still have some sort of interaction with nature.
I am sure it is only a matter of time until they return... but their lack of appearance here has not gone un-noticed.
They are not migratory birds so they do not fly south for the winter.
Please note that I did not take the photo below of the House Sparrow at the bird bath. Someone sent it to me and I thought it was an amazing shot of such a common little bird. The above photo I believe is an American Tree Sparrow. There are so many species of Sparrows and I am still early on in the learning how to identify many of them. I am also attaching the photo of Misfit out there with the House Sparrows... something I will never forget.