05 March 2021
ONE YEAR OF “One-a-Day” NEIGHBOURHOOD SPECIES
For me this landmark has to be marked by the introduction of the House Sparrow. Like me, an immigrant from Europe now gone native and well naturalized. 20 years ago they were more common than today though there is a goodish colony in Ste-Anne-de Bellevue rummaging around the back of the restaurants for snacks. This is a greatly misunderstood bird in North America, reviled by many people as being a foreign upstart coming over here and stealing nesting holes from peaceful Canadian native birds. Well yes, that’s true. On the other hand this bird has adapted to human habitation and lived alongside humans for over 7000 years since our ancestors started to become civilized and first began to settle down and grow food instead of being perpetual hunter gatherers. House Sparrows have been our friends ever since and have followed our species as we have spread over the surface of the planet. I grew up with them and for me they are the species I would most miss if they were to disappear.
A bird of the sparrow family Passeridae, found in most parts of the world. It is a small bird that has a typical length of 16 cm (6.3 in) and a mass of 24–39.5 g (0.85–1.39 oz). Females and young birds are coloured pale brown and grey, and males have brighter black, white, and brown markings. One of about 25 species in the genus Passer, the House Sparrow is native to most of Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, and a large part of Asia. Its intentional or accidental introductions to many regions, including parts of Australasia, Africa, and the Americas, make it the most widely distributed wild bird.
The House Sparrow is strongly associated with human habitation, and can live in urban or rural settings. Though found in widely varied habitats and climates, it typically avoids extensive woodlands, grasslands, and deserts away from human development. It feeds mostly on the seeds of grains and weeds, but it is an opportunistic eater and commonly eats insects and many other foods. Its predators include domestic cats, hawks, and many other predatory birds and mammals.
Because of its numbers, ubiquity, and association with human settlements, the house sparrow is culturally prominent. It is extensively, and usually unsuccessfully, persecuted as an agricultural pest. It has also often been kept as a pet, as well as being a food item and a symbol of lust, sexual potency, commonness, and vulgarity. Though it is widespread and abundant, its numbers have declined in some areas. The animal’s conservation status is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List.
No photo this time, just a bit of home-made art.