Weekly Photo Challenge: Hope

Back when I was a child and a young adult I used to enjoy watching them chasing each other – especially in the spring when large groups of males would chase a single female seeking her favours! I refer, of course, to the humble House Sparrow. We used to have a chain link fence on one side of our garden and I can remember the adept way that they flew straight through it as if it wasn’t there πŸ™‚ Then, almost without any warning, they disappeared. The factory behind our houses was demolished and a new housing estate was built. But the Sparrows had gone, and with them the Starlings too 😦 I missed them – small insignificant brown birds… They can’t even sing!!! (I remember the film and a BBC documentary that used the song)

My Son arrived in 2001 and there were no Sparrows performing aero/acrobatics in the garden to amuse him. But we kept putting out the food and the RSPB were busy doing their best to encourage investigation into the cause of the falling numbers and to raise public awareness of their plight. The Sparrow became an officially endangered species in the UK because of the rapid fall in its population – there may be only a couple of hundred Golden Eagles but their population is stable.

Three years ago I noticed a small group passing through – they didn’t stay – a male and a couple of females. Then slowly they started to appear, a couple at a time and never for more than 2 to 3 days. It grew from there – I now have 15 to 20 in my Rowan tree every day and they squabble over the food on my office window-sill. The gradual resurgence in my garden of the humble House Sparrow gives me hope for all the endangered species of the world…

Juvenile House Sparrow
Juvenile House Sparrow

Adult Male House Sparrow
Adult Male House Sparrow


    1. Thank you orples:-) It is a good camera but I’m fortunate to be very close to my subjects which probably helps even more than the camera. I use a Canon EOS7D but you could get very good results with a much cheaper camera – half the battle is good light and catching the birds when they are relatively still.

  1. The House Sparrow (also referred to as the English Sparrow) is an introduced species here in Canada. It is highly successful, and many wish it had never arrived here! Maybe we should round up a bunch of them and ship them back to you!

    1. LoL – they’re actually a species of Europe and Africa… Couldn’t believe how many I saw when I went to Zimbabwe! We, of course, have the Canada Goose – do you a swap πŸ˜‰ Thanks for dropping in and the info – sorry if Sparrers are a problem for you but they’re part of my London that went missing for a few years πŸ˜‰

      1. Apparently the Canada Goose was introduced to the UK in about 1660. The House Sparrow was introduced into the USA in 1850. I think I would rather have the house sparrow than the Canada Goose (which we already have more than enough of!)

  2. Yes, those really are great photos. I like to watch the birds and many times my photos are just a blur because the birds don’t like to sit still and pose πŸ™‚

    1. Patience and luck – you need a nearby tree that they retreat to when they’ve grabbed some food. That’s the way to catch them sitting still, but you will still have to take a lot of failed photos – that’s what I do πŸ™‚ Thanks for popping by NN πŸ™‚

  3. What a wonderful view from your office and great shots! Did the RSPB ever establish cause of sinking numbers? We put food out for the birds but those pesky squirrels . . . .

    1. Hi Patti, I don’t think it was ever conclusively nailed down. But the most likely causes were changes in farming practices and loss of suitable nesting sites. In our area I suspect the latter – the factory was demolished and replaced with modern housing. It takes a while for those little holes in the fabric of a building to start to appear. It was also suggested that predation by the increasing numbers of domestic cats was a cause but I suspect that was a red herring.

      I feed the birds on a 1st floor window ledge – so far the squirrels haven’t found their way up! I guess it’s only a matter of time 😦

    1. Thanks Robyn – Actually had a visit from a single Starling today… Hope he tells his buddies where the food is when they roost tonight πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Tony – They’re always fun. We have a pair of Robins setting up for the nesting season and they sometimes chase individual sparrows. Must try and get some shots of them and the various Tits that pass through πŸ™‚

  4. touching tale and great pics … we also have lots over here in Australia and would gladly send a few back home to England if you ever do run out πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks – hopefully that won’t become necessary. I often wonder whether they and the budgerigars compete for much the same food – I guess they eat more cereal type seeds than budgies and budgies do like a bit of salad too!

  5. Gorgeous captures Martin! You sure made the humble House Sparrow look brilliant. And, the Rowan tree is the perfect backdrop.
    It’s certainly hopeful when an endangered species makes a comeback. Great post!

  6. These are great photos! Here in the city, I seldom see the birds taking the time to fly and prance about…did they, too, become busy bees like everyone? LOL.

    Thank you for reminding me to stop awhile and go birdwatching!

    1. Hi Magdalene – In the city the birds will be very furtive… Too many people so it’s a quick dash to snatch crumbs (or French Fries!) from under cafe tables. I’m lucky that I live in a leafy suburb and work from home so I see the birds in more natural surroundings and a greater variety of them too πŸ™‚

      Stopping a while to watch the birds, perhaps while having a coffee break is certainly rewarding – I find it helps me gather my thoughts. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

  7. They’re always so much fun to watch, aren’t they? We used to have a bird feeder outside our store, and it seemed to attract quite a few sparrows (among others)… never a dull moment with them, is there, Martin?!

  8. bird watching is so interesting! In my yard I typically see mockingbirds (vicious creatures if you stray too close to a nest filled with eggs!! they will dive bomb your head!!) and also woodpeckers and wild parrots. We have one particularly dense woodpecker who repeatedly hits its beak on the steel streetlight poles behind our swale..ha! The parrots are the ones we see more seasonally ( a few months in the dead of summer heat) and thus far they haven’t done anything odd enough to really comment about!

    1. LoL about your Woodpecker Karen. We don’t get anything quite as exotic as Parrots in our garden but we do get a wide range of English species. The surprise visit of last year was a juvenile Sparrowhawk – I thought the bird feeder had gone quiet and then I saw why! πŸ˜‰

  9. Nice pics. I should have to try taking photos of birds sometime. I tried once and it turned out cruddy.

    If sparrows are or have become extinct in the UK, they certainly haven’t in the U.S. πŸ™‚

    1. I’m pleased to say that the Sparrows are gradually increasing their numbers (at least in my area) though they remain on the red list within the UK.

      What type of camera were you using and do you have image editing software?

    1. I agree – birds make wonderful subjects for photographs πŸ™‚ Though my Budgies give me the evil eye whenever I point the camera at them – you can almost hear them thinking “why can’t he leave us in peace to watch the tele!” πŸ˜‰

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