ARTISTS AND BIRDS

    "Here To Stay!"

House Sparrow

        House Sparrows are here to stay! In 1850, eight pairs (originally called English Sparrows) were brought over to the eastern seaboard of the United States to protect trees from a caterpillar, that is the larva of the Geometrid Moth. The introduction failed to do the job. This species fed on seeds, buds, and not insects. More shipments continued, bringing in hundreds of sparrows at a time, and in 1869 it was recorded that one shipment brought us one thousand birds. It wasn’t long before the house sparrowdestruction of crops became evident, along with the spread of disease and parasites. The new imports were in direct competition with songbirds, and a population explosion of House Sparrows revealed the introduction was a huge mistake.

        Once House Sparrows were established on the eastern seaboard of the US, they swept across the whole country. These birds are great survivors. They can live in extreme desert heat and thrive in cold, cold climates. At a Christmas Bird Count, in the Cedar City area, it snowed and the wind blew like you were at the North Pole. The only birds we saw that day were a couple of Ravens and a zillion House Sparrows. The weather was so cold we hesitated even getting out of the vehicle, but the House Sparrows were in their comfort zone, hard at work gathering seeds.

        The breeding season is in full swing, and territorial disputes are taking place as mating pairs defend their special nesting area. In Bloomington Ranches there are lots of Italian Cyprus trees, the perfect place for birds to call home. If you happen past them in the early evening hours, you will hear the many sounds of settling down in their green hotel. Visit one of the local garden centers and you will see birds flitting and swooping in every direction. Even inside the main stores, birds will try to find a better, safer place to be. When you look really close, the bird making the most noise and the biggest fuss is the House Sparrow. They don’t seem to mind being around people. That’s how they got their name here in the Americas . . . House Sparrow. From now until the end of summer you will see their babies learning to fly for they have many hatches each year. When lots of hatches happen, the species has a high survival rate. House Sparrows number in the millions. So, enjoy them. They are here to stay.

        Keith Davis is the artist for the House Sparrow. Spring is when the colors of feathers are most beautiful. If you have questions about birds or the activities of the Red Cliffs Audubon, call 435 673-0996 or go to our website redcliffsaudubon.org for more information.

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