Outside my window, birds and squirrels and a presumable variety of other critters are pairing up in my backyard — bluebirds and house sparrows have commenced their annual fight over the bluebird houses that, if history is prognosticator, will soon be home to a clutch of sparrow chicks.
There is much discussion in conservation circles about, on the one hand, species disappearing from sight, sound and memory and, on the other, species newly rooting in places they have not always been.
As I wandered along a deer trail through a section of otherwise pristine woodland and discovered a rock wall with no apparent historical connection, I remembered an experience when I was a daily news reporter covering the machinations of a county planning board.
We humans think we are special, and we are, but we are not quite unique. We have many similarities to many other inhabitants of our biosphere.
We have hearts and lungs and brains. Even fish have the same organs except notably, they breathe through gills that enable them to extract oxygen to fuel the rest of their machinery.
Bluebirds, starlings and sparrows line up atop the fence outside my window, anxiously jockeying to see who will take over the fixer-upper mounted atop the fence post at the far end. The starling tries to bully his way to head of the line, but will lose the contest, because he’s too big to get through the hole, but he’s sure making life miserable for the others.
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 4/4/2014)
I finally gave up trying to keep the House Sparrows out of the bluebird house. For about three days.
I feel badly for them, trying to set up a home outside my studio window. They are mid-1800 immigrants to this country from the Mediterranean Sea shores, by way of Europe. I’ve read they were a pest in China; Chairman Mao tried to eradicate them thinking it would make more grain available for his burgeoning human population.