A few minutes ago, a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk dashed across the yard and flung itself into the maple that overhangs the hedgerow.
It ruffled and preened itself, then spread its wings and tail – apparently it had gotten wet. Had it been caught in a passing shower, or bathed itself in our little brook? Or had it had a tussle with a prey bird, perhaps on the wet grass? Its crop didn’t look full, as though it had eaten recently… It flew to the top of the mulberry, where it was almost impossible to see amid the brown and gray branches.
As the hawk had flown through the yard, the House Sparrows at the feeder burst into the air, and headed into the wisteria, where the tangled branches offer some pretty good cover. It’s not entirely secure, though; we’ve watched Sharpies clamber through the wisteria in pursuit of their prey (smaller birds).
I hope that next time the Sharpie comes through, she’ll catch the sparrows by surprise and manage to catch one. The House Sparrows are not native to this continent; they were brought here in a foolish project to establish breeding populations in American of all the birds mentioned in the works of Shakespeare. (Stupid.) The House Sparrows displace many native species, taking nest cavities and food from native birds. They are messy, loud, and aggressive.
They make excellent nibbles for hawks.
Here’s an old bit of doggerel that I wrote a couple of years ago about just this topic:
I wish the hawk would eat the sparrows,
break their bones and suck their marrows,
pluck their feathers, pull off their heads,
rip their flesh into little shreds!
They eat all the birdseed. They cause other birds stress.
They poop on the window and make a big mess.
They poop under the awning when weather gets cold
and poop on the top of it when it’s unrolled.
Among our birds, these finches are trash;
they haven’t even got panache.
Their incessant tuneless discordant chatter
drowns out the birds that really matter.
They don’t even belong here, you know;
they were brought from the Old World long ago
as part of a plan to bring to our shore
birds familiar in Europe of yore.
The reasons now seem bizarre and absurd:
The plan was to establish here each bird
mentioned in the plays of Avon’s great Bard.
Now we have sparrows in every yard.
That’s why we also have the Starling,
a good mimic (and Mozart’s darling).
But our bluebirds became the sacrifice
to someone’s idea that the starling is nice.
Who thought our landscape would be more pleasant
with introduced birds like the Starling and pheasant?
The House Sparrows and Starlings have adapted so well
that their destructive numbers continue to swell.
If I had a tiny bow and some tiny arrows,
I’d shoot all the pesky, nasty House Sparrows.
I’d mince them fine and put them in boxes
then set them out to feed the foxes.
But as I have no bow or tiny arrows
to eradicate my hoards of sparrows,
I call upon our neighborhood raptor
to chase, and pounce, and grab, and capture.
More bad poetry about house sparrows:
© 2011 Quodlibet. Dissemination, re-use, or duplication prohibited except by express permission of the author.I pay attention and I will find you if you cite, republish, or use my work without credit or without attribution.