Holt sparrows a-hoppin'

To: Canberra birds <>
Subject: Holt sparrows a-hoppin'
From: John Layton <>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2016 03:27:35 +0000

Apropos previous discussion about House Sparrow numbers in the ACT.


I’ve watched numbers wax and wane around our house since the late 1970s when they were a damned pest, particularly in the vegetable garden attacking lettuce and sweet corn seedlings. They didn’t appear to eat or carry away the latter, just left them shredded – Passer domesticus visigoth.


As the turn of the century approached sparrows became rare around our place, but small numbers were always present around Belconnen Mall eight kilometres away. Then, throughout the current and previous decade numbers in our garden seemed to recover albeit marginally.


During the second week of last November a neighbour’s huge photinia sprawling along our boundary was in the full flush of flower. We’ve never seen it so heavily laden with blossom, and each time we looked out there were four or five sparrows hopping about on the blossoms hunting insects but we couldn't discern the prey species.


Likewise, a large feijoa in our yard is putting on an exceptional display of flowers this season as are many shrubs in our area. Normally the busy bailiwick of Silvereyes this time of year, sparrows have quickly usurped them. Yesterday I watched a male sparrow fly from the feijoa to the house guttering where he was joined by a female. He passed her a morsel and they zipped beneath the roof tiles. The happy little passerine couple have been noted and scheduled for eviction.


A neighbour, Harry the Hipster, insists “ ... this season’s abundant inflorescence is another infallible indication of global warming and heralds a looming El Nino event.”  He goes on to speculate it contributes to current high pollen counts. This last statement confirms my suspicion Harry must be a member of Mensa International.


John Layton




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