Date: 4/16/18 6:59 am
From: <caid...>
Subject: [cobirds] Re: House Sparrows

On Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 8:51:32 AM UTC-6, Dave Leatherman wrote:
> 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
Hi Dave,

You're final comment about handsome HOSP reminded me of when I, as a
neophyte birder, was out wandering in the cardon cactus near Kino Bay. I
had spent probably a good hour observing and drawing a Yellow-crowned
Night-Heron, and was still not being totally sure of my ID, and then I
stumbled across this incredibly "handsome," Sonoran Desert-residing,
sparrow. I thumbed frantically through my Peterson's Field Guide to
Western Birds, and the distinctively-marked sparrow right in front of me
was NOT in there!! All was eventually resolved, but it took me awhile.
Part of my take-away learning experience was that HOSPs hanging out in the
alleys of our urban environments are not always as brilliantly plumaged as
this breeding season male I encountered in the Sonoran Desert.

May I share a bit more? Then, on my drive back to Prescott, I stopped
along the Hassayampa River and was totally befuddled by a beautiful male
warbler in breeding plumage. Turned out it was the same species I had been
seeing all winter in Prescott, I just had no idea that an Audubon's Warbler
could change that dramatically over a few weeks time.

What a big learning curve I was on in those days!


Chuck Aid
Evergreen, CO

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