A Few of My Favorite Birds (19): The Humble Sparrow

Male English SparrowSparrows are probably the most common and ubiquitous of all wild birds.English Sparrow ChickThese first 2 pictures are of “English” (or “house”) sparrows, Sparrow in fall but there are 26 known species, and at least some varieties thrive in every continent around the world (except Antarctica, of course). Sparrow Chick in bushSparrows nest in low trees and shrubs and coexist well with people. Sparrows in snow at feederWhen we lived in Marquette, our kids taught some of the chipmunks and birds to eat right out of their hands. Tree Sparrow in snow“Captain” was their favorite. Once he landed on Michael while the children were tobogganing, pecking hopefully at the tiny balls of snow on Mike’s mittens. American Tree Sparrow at feederSparrows eat seeds, and they especially love millet, corn, and sunflower seeds. Song Sparrow on deckA few years ago we had a very aggressive sparrow Tree Sparrow who liked to sit in the middle of our bird feeder and guard it. Song Sparrow at feeder He was a greedy miser who never learned to share,Sparrow fighting with Junco and he went so far as to try to drive off the other birds, Birds fighting at birdfeeder even though there was plenty of food for all. (Most sparrows aren’t that feisty.)Female English Sparrow So, besides being common, they are probably among the most overlooked and least appreciated of the birds. Sparrow. First snow Sparrows are very small, dress in 50 shades of grey, brown, chestnut, or buff, and most of them chirp rather than sing. Here is one who landed on my deck a few minutes ago, along with the first snows of winter.  American Tree Sparrow 2 He is a perfect specimen of the most common type to visit our bird feeder:
the American tree sparrow. American Tree Sparrow 1 These birds are easily identified by a dark spot right in the middle of their breast American Tree Sparrow and beaks that are dark on the top but light yellow on the bottom. Birds on Telephone Line Until I started photographing birds for this study, Birds on telephone wire I rarely noticed the little sparrows that were everywhere underfoot or twittering on telephone wires Sparrows in New Zealandunless they were doing something pretty unusual, Sparrow Tea Party like these perky fellows who wanted a tea party while Alan and I were touring New Zealand years ago,3 English sparrows FL  or these gals who were chatting about baby carriages at Disney World. Sparrow Dear little brown birds…rarely ever noticed and totally taken for granted Small bird in flowering treeunless they just happen to land next to something beautiful. American Tree Sparrow Yet, our Lord comforts us with the reminder that despite their humble status, God cares for each tiny sparrow: Tree Sparrows on deck “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).  Sparrow under planter So, happily, even if we are as small in size or status as the seemingly insignificant sparrows…no matter what our situation, God cares about us! American Tree S. in snow“His Eye is on the Sparrow”

“Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.”
(Civilla Martin)

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God.
(Psalm 84:3)



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