Date: 4/15/18 7:51 am
From: DAVID A LEATHERMAN <daleatherman...>
Subject: [cobirds] House Sparrows
Here are some random thoughts regarding the House Sparrow discussion:

1) Birders care about, and are interested in, all birds.

2) House Sparrows are unevenly distributed across the landscape, seasons and time.

3) Being somewhat "colonial" they succumb to disease and predation issues typical of species that occur in numbers in one place and time.

4) eBird can be used for more than a source of intel on how to home in on rare species.

5) Birders, at least a subset of us, can't resist sliding down the slippery slope of statistics.

6) House Sparrows are named for a reason and much of the time prefer...... areas with human houses (Passer domesticus).

7) When cost and safety (5-10 years from now?) preclude birder travel to exotic places like Kenya, Costa Rica, and Cottonwood Canyon, we can still be entertained, learn new things and observe/photograph beauty in our backyards and personal patches of open space or "wild" habitat.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I've ever read about House Sparrows is their penchant for bringing still smoldering cigarette butts to their nests as a source of smoke to reduce nest ectoparasites of threat to the birds and their young. Because they often build their nests within the outer and inner walls of human structures, this leads to them being a major culprit in the starting of structural fires (P. domesticus subsp. pyromaniacus?). This was reported from metro areas in the East, and I have not heard of it being observed in Colorado. Maybe birders who know urban fire fighters can ask if this has been suspected locally.

Last Friday my planned trip to the retirement event of a friend in Salida was stopped still in its tracks by an accident on I-25 near DU. One quarter of the way to my destination after a lapse of half the time allotted, I made eggnog out of broken eggs, ate the 2-2-2 breakfast at Village Inn (over easy with bacon) and went to the Denver Zoo for the day. Living in a bush mostly within the Steller's Sea-Eagle enclosure is a little group of House Sparrows which seemed like an interesting association, especially right below the sign that said, "Watch Out For Eagle Poop". And I realized for the umpteenth time how handsome the males of this Old World species really are.


Dave Leatherman

Fort Collins

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