“his sobs were overheard by some friendly sparrows, who flew to him in great excitement;” Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
House sparrows are in decline in the UK. Never did I think that I'd see the day these funny, friendly little birds, in their vast numbers would become endangered. It was unthinkable. We don't know why they're in decline, but, like many other species they now need our help to survive.
As I watched our flock of sparrows this week, I was reminded that until the end of last year we had never had one in our wildlife garden. We changed the seed mix we use, and, wham! Suddenly a 'Free - sparrow all you can eat buffet', flashing neon sign appeared to have been posted! Now, thankfully, house sparrows are regular players in our daily carnival of feathery visitors.
Having cleverly exploited humans for over 10,000 years by colonising most of the planet; and making great use of human building and food waste, house sparrows are often dismissed as uninteresting birds. They've had a rough deal though history; the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph which uses the sparrow means “badness”! How sad is that?
If you're starting to keep a nature journal, sparrows are a fantastic bird to begin watching. As they practically live alongside us they're easy to observe, and will often come quite close if tempted by some seed or crumbs. Take some time to watch the next ones you see - you may be quite surprised at their behaviours. Let me know if you see anything you weren't expecting!
House sparrows are a great example that nothing is ordinary; and we need to protect and cherish what may seem commonplace as well as the rare.
The thing that I really love about these little brown birds, is that they do everything together. They feed, bathe, dust bath and nest communally. They even do something called 'social singing', where they all congregate in a tree or shrub and call to each other. Everything is done as a group. Isn't that wonderful?
We can learn a lot from the humble sparrow about connecting and sharing.