Thinking Citizen Blog — Sparrows — What Should Every Child Know? Do You Have a Favorite? Why?
Thinking Citizen Blog — Wednesday is Climate Change, the Environment, and Sustainability Day
Today’s Topic: Sparrows — What Should Every Child Know? Do You Have a Favorite? Why?
Sparrows are among the most common birds worldwide. They lack the flash of cardinals and blue jays. The grandeur of hawks and eagles. But to many they have a subtle charm in their plumage and their song. Has a sparrow ever sparked a little bit of wonder for you? Do you have a favorite sparrow? for its song or its looks? Do you have a favorite photograph or recording of a sparrow? or of any bird for that matter? Or are sparrows drab, ugly pests? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
GENERAL FACTS ABOUT “OLD WORLD SPARROWS” — small, plump, brown, and gray
1. “Generally, Old World sparrows are small, plump, brown and grey birds with short tails and stubby, powerful beaks.”
2. “The differences between sparrow species can be subtle. Members of this family range in size from the chestnut sparrow (Passer eminibey), at 11.4 centimetres (4.5 in) and 13.4 grams (0.47 oz), to the parrot-billed sparrow (Passer gongonensis), at 18 centimetres (7.1 in) and 42 grams (1.5 oz).”
3. “Sparrows are physically similar to other seed-eating birds, such as finches.”
NB: Distribution: “Indigenous to Europe, Africa and Asia. In the Americas, Australia, and other parts of the world, settlers imported some species which quickly naturalised, particularly in urban and degraded areas. House sparrows, for example, are now found throughout North America, Australia (every state except Western Australia, parts of southern and eastern Africa, and over much of the heavily populated parts of South America.” Do brown and gray have a subtle appeal that equals that of garish green, red, and blue?
THE WHITE THROATED SPARROW — “Old Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody”
1. Canadians think they hear “O, Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.”
2. New Englanders think they hear “Old (or poor) Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.”
3. What do you hear?
THE HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) — an agricultural pest, food for cats, “culturally prominent”
1. “Only about 20–25% of birds hatched survive to their first breeding season. The oldest known wild house sparrow lived for nearly two decades…The oldest recorded captive house sparrow lived for 23 years…in adult sparrows, annual survival is 45–65%.”
2. “To many people across the world, the house sparrow is the most familiar wild animal and, because of its association with humans and familiarity, it is frequently used to represent the common and vulgar, or the lewd.”
3. “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…”
NB: “Sparrows were associated by the ancient Greeks with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, due to their perceived lustfulness, an association echoed by later writers such as Chaucer and Shakespeare. Jesus’s use of “sparrows” as an example of divine providence in the Gospel of Matthew also inspired later references, such as that in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the Gospel hymn His Eye is On the Sparrow.” The greatest French chanteuse of all time, Edith Piaf, was known as the “Little Sparrow” because her last name “piaf” is slang for “sparrow” (or indeed any small bird). The standard French word for sparrow is “moineau.” Piaf was under 5 feet tall and weighed less than 90 lbs.
A LINK TO THE LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED BY THEME:
Two special attachments below:
#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to climate change or the environment. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to climate change that the rest of us may have missed. Your favorite chart or table perhaps…
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.