To: "'Nikolas Haass'" <>, "'Rosemary Royle'" <>, "'Syd Curtis'" <>, "'bird'" <>
Subject: Sparrows
From: "Tony Russell" <>
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2008 08:54:01 +0930
There's no shortage of House Sparrows where I live in NE Adelaide - I
have about a dozen all the time at my place.  I probably encourage them
somewhat by throwing out old bread and buns which they devour eagerly.
This morning whilst putting out some bread I noticed a couple of Noisy
Miners being harassed by a single New Holland Honeyeater. I've only got
one scrappy gum tree which is currently in flower so normally only have
miners as they pass through. Surprisingly the NHH succeeded in chasing
off the normally much more aggressive miners.
I have lots of these NH honeyeaters with one pair at the front of the
house nesting with eggs in a pittosporum bush and many others behaving
nestily around the back garden.


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Nikolas Haass
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 8:51 PM
To: Rosemary Royle; Syd Curtis; bird
Subject: Sparrows

I can't find it right now. However, a few years ago there was a nice
study in Journal of Ornithology comparing the population of House
Sparrows in Hamburg (HH) and Berlin (B), Germany. They showed that the
population in HH decreased much faster than in B. Reasons were (from
what I remember): 1. Loss of nesting habitat, especially under roofs (HH
is much quicker in fixing holes and openings in buildings than B) 2.
Decline of food sources (decline in traditional stock breeding,
"cleaner" agricultural methods, pesticides, decrease in nature-like
gardens and parks; the landscape in B is much more heterogenous than in
HH) 3. Loss of dust bathing habitat (sandy spots/dirt roads; B has an
advantage there as well: lots of large construction sites) Nikolas

Nikolas Haass

Sydney, NSW

----- Original Message ----
From: Rosemary Royle <>
To: Syd Curtis <>; bird <>
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 7:09:26 PM
Subject: Sparrows

I am fascinated that House Sparrows are becoming scarce in urban areas
in Australia, just like they are in the UK. They seem OK here in rural
areas and are even increasing in some of these (e.g. Scotland, Wales)

If the House Sparrows are disappearing you can't help but wonder whether
the cause must not also be affecting the humans. The favourite theory in
the UK is that there are no insects in urban areas any more for the
sparrows to feed to their young - which is true. (There are some
staggering figures around about the decrease in moth densities over the
last 50 years and you never see a fly in a town these days). But why are
there no insects?? Traffic fumes maybe? Which also may cause the virtual
asthma epidemic in children? Or just not enough habitat for insects to
thrive? There is a huge amount of research going on and a guess the
answers will emerge soon.

As one of the previous correspondents said, House Sparrows may simply be
returning to sensible levels after a super-abundance in the early 1900s
caused by untidy agriculture and in London, certainly, by the use of
horse-drawn vehicles and the attendant oats.

Perhaps, at heart, they are a bird of untidy,scruffy and developing
cities and just fade away when there is too much concrete.

Rosemary Royle

Wales, UK

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