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Notes from St Tiggywinkles: Ol’cock sparrows make a comeback

Sparrow

Sparrow

  • by Les Stocker, founder of St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Haddenham
 

The resilience of anything British is something we are all proud of. And rightly so. The come-backs are legendary as are the recovery of some of our wildlife which had looked dead and gone.

I walk around the outside of my house listening to the proud tuneless chirping of the sparrows.

Cockneys through and through the ‘ol’ cock sparrers’ had all but disappeared into oblivion yet the have fought back. They are once again raising their families in every nook and cranny we have subconsciously incorporated in our own house building.

Every little gap seems to resound to the tiny chirping of babies clamouring, “Feed me! Feed me!”

The adult birds cannot refuse. They are model parents feeding their offspring from dawn till dusk until they are ready to fly off to join the gangs of these tough little birds in the thick garden shrubs that give hem cover for the rest of the year.

Living with man has not always been the way of life for a sparrow.

Before man fashioned his new world of buildings and nooks and crannies the House Sparrow nested in bushes and trees just like their close cousins, the Tree Sparrows.

Mind you, I do worry about this other sparrow, easily recognised as both sexes have black caps compared with the male house sparrow’s grey.

In 36 years of running Tiggywinkles and seeing so many rarities cross our threshold, I have never seen a tree sparrow.

Very odd and very ominous.

Perhaps it will make a comeback and join its ‘townie’ cousins filling our bird nursery every spring and summer. The house sparrow orphans grow very quickly so that after a couple of weeks of “Feed me! Feed me!” they are literally biting the hand that feed 
them with those tough little beaks.

A true sign that they are ready to go and join those gangs of ‘sparrers’.

Long may they prosper.

 

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