I remember reading articles a few years back about the disappearance of that most common London bird, the sparrow. No one seemed to be able to account for their disappearance, but one day they were here in their millions and the next day they were gone.
I don’t know if it’s just my advancing age, but I never gave birds much thought in my youth, but I do now; they seem like little packets of magic. I grew up in rural Northamptonshire so can name all the common species, which always comes as a shock to my family as they only know me as a metropolitan type with little love for the countryside.
Just over a year ago we lost our cat Ziggy to some vile feline disease and we now have Bucket the Battersea Terrier. Sad as we were to lose Ziggy, it meant I was able to place a bird feeder in our small south London garden a few weeks ago. It hangs from a potted maple tree just outside our kitchen window and we waited to see who might stop by.
I don’t know where the little buggers have been hiding but we are now awash with sparrows. It’s quite common for there to be ten of them in the tree above the feeder, where they sit stropping their beaks, acting like meerkats keeping a lookout while a couple of them dive down to feed. These avian hoodlums are tough guys and the pair of blue tits that nest close by are given short shrift when they duck in to feed.
The winter has been so mild so far that birds don’t really need a free feed yet, but I’m happy to make their life easier as I have a guilty secret.
I’m ashamed to say, and this is genuine shame, that when I was twelve, I begged my parents for an air rifle. They didn’t like the idea, but I persisted and eventually got my way. And what did this vile twelve-year-old do? Why, he went shooting and killing sparrows in the family garden. I’m now a reformed character.
I mourned the apparent passing of these most London of birds and am delighted so many can be seen from my kitchen window. No guns this time little sparrows you’re safe with us, but watch out for the neighbour’s cat.
4 thoughts on “Sparrows are back”
Northamptonshire? Was that before or after Horndean? Happy New Year.
Malcolm, Ravensthorpe came after Horndean. Happy New Year to you too. J
OMG Jim am so pleased to hear this… We live right next to Burgess Park and never EVER glimpse a sparrow, even though we have a bird feeder at the very end of the garden right next to the park. The most common birds we see are blue tits that have nested for years in a nesting box on the back of the house – thougt not for the last couple of years…and that fills me with gloomy thoughts about climate change. The parakeets are of course very active and we usually get a couple of robins at this time of year too. But what good news about sparrows! I read that it might be to do with the kind of grubs they feed their young being less available now. They still throng the French streets so why not our London ones?
Happy New Year by the way!
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I read somewhere that it might be diesel fumes that are to blame for the sparrow’s demise, but given that you say they are still prevalent in France where just about everybody drives a diesel that can’t be the case. Anyway they are in our garden right now!