[Tweeters] The Dirtiest Bird

jeff gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Tue Jan 15 17:52:06 PST 2013

I live in a house in North Everett, on the city street grid. I got House Sparrows.

My earliest memories of this bird go way back to childhood. The thin walls and ancient glass windows of the old house I grew up in, back in West Seattle, did little to buffer the seemingly endless and monotonous call of this species in the nesting season. I remember it being incredibly annoying, as they started their noise making at the crack of dawn, just outside my bedroom window, and continued on and on. I just wanted to go out and shoot the little suckers. For a young nature nut this idea was socially acceptable because both this species and of course the evil Starling, were considered Bad Birds, for their aggressive attitudes toward our native birds. Of course this, coming from humans, is truly a case of the pot calling the kettle black. These dumb birds could use some training in real environmental mayhem from us experts. And of course we brought them here in the first place.

Anyway, after 50 years I've mellowed out a bit. House Sparrows are kind of interesting. Their cheeping outside my current bedroom window, doesn't really bug me anymore. Today, at my single bird feeder, they looked quite attractive in their winter plumage, glowing in the low afternoon sun. They really are house oriented; I enjoy watching them hover under our eaves to pick off the many cocoons, spiders (and their egg cases), and bugs that I leave intact out there for the winter. Hey it's not just because I'm lazy (I am); I leave them bugs out there for all sorts of birds to eat. Really!

For some funny bunny reason, the House Sparrows don't really come to my feeder overly much. They tend to stick the North side of my house, near the shelter of evergreen hedges and stuff, then commute to the nearby parks lawn etc. Last winter I looked out the bathroom window during a snow day, and found about a dozen House Sparrows clinging to the vertical plane of my neighbors decaying brick chimney. They were all evenly spaced apart on the brick grid, pecking away at the loose mortar grit there. They hung out there so long they looked like some decorative feature mortared on the chimney - that's how evenly spaced they were.

The House Sparrow also gets my personal prize for 'The Dirtiest Bird'. While not uncommonly seen giving themselves a nice little dirty dust bath, my prize bird took the cake. It was on Halloween day, 1974, in Greenwich Connecticut. Me and my birdwatcher buddy were at the town dump, for some reason, when we spotted this sparrow giving itself a mudbath in a puddle. The bird was completely covered with thick wet mud. I can't really imagine a dirtier bird. It was kind of awesome in a way.

Jeff Gibson
Everett Wa


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