by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Are The Grapes Ripe Yet?"

House Sparrows

baby sparrows        I grew up living close to my Grandma Milneís. Just a few fruit trees, berry bushes, and a whole lot of grapevines away. July was the time of year I used to check in with her and ask . . . "Are the grapes ripe yet?" My Mother told me that if I ate green grapes Iíd get a bellyache and die. I went my whole young life making sure I didnít eat things that werenít ripe because I didnít want to get a bellyache.

        I stopped by my old home with its huge trees, old grapevines and pomegranate bushes. There were birds all over - flying in and out of the overgrown bushes, the trees, and everything. Oh, oh! There were birds all over the precious grapevines -- dozens of them. They flew into the grapevines, teetered back and forth on one branch and then another branch, dropped to the ground and hop-walked around, and then back up in the grapevines. Were they eating the grapes? There were so many I thought they would eat every grape in the place. But the grapes didnít look ripe, and there was not one bird-peck on the grapes. Iím sure their mothers told them theyíd get the bellyache if they ate green grapes. The birds turned out to be young House Sparrows, learning to fly and use their wings. Thatís why they were flip-flopping around through the grape leaves.

        House Sparrows are believed to be one of the oldest known birds. This Sparrow originated in the Mediterranean region and then spread throughout Europe. By 1850 the House Sparrow was imported to North America to help control insect populations. The import happened before scientists found the House Sparrow does not regularly eat insects outside the nesting season. Too late, they are here and they are the most abundant songbird in the world. Maybe theyíre a little like Bermuda Grass in Dixie - learn to love them, cause the House Sparrow is here to stay.

        House Sparrows can be seen everywhere. The artist is Marilyn Davis. If you have questions about birds or the upcoming Field Trip to Pine Park, call 435 673-0996. Public is welcome.

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