House

Whose nest is this?Why, it’s Passer domesticus, of course. The House Sparrow. Usually stuffed into a hole in a building, or, better yet, a stop light pole, this tornado of dried grasses is generally invisible.

House Sparrows are unrelated to the New World sparrows; sometimes they are called weaver finches, and looking at the woven bouffant of their nests in a natural state you can see why.

They are, of course, a common bird around humans. I hear them as I type. Even given the efficiency of the local American Kestrels, there are always House Sparrows nearby. They immediately took to our building’s sidewalk shed and are probably nesting in it as we speak.

The birds originally came over from Eurasia. They were first released in Brooklyn in 1851. Green-Wood Cemetery is sometimes said to be the original location; other sources say that it was the site of a slightly later release. The pictured nest is just outside Green-Wood’s fence.

Transformation of farming from family to industrial in the last century meant House Sparrows populations have declined in rural zones. And England has seen radical reductions in numbers in just the last few decades. (When I walked around Dartmoor in 2014, I saw only a pair.)

It seems we can take nothing for granted in the Anthropocene, even with species highly adaptable/susceptible to living amidst us.

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