• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote®: House Sparrows’ Dance

Air Date: Week of

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

A House Sparrow shows off its courtship display (Photo: © Tony Marfell)

Many wild animals go out of their way to avoid humans and our structures, but some seem to thrive in the built environment. Such is the case of the House Sparrow, a common sight and sound from home improvement stores to rural barns and churches. BirdNote®’s Michael Stein has more on this chirpy little bird.

Transcript

[BIRDNOTE® THEME]

BASCOMB: Many wild animals go out of their way to avoid humans and our
structures, but some seem to thrive in the built environment. Such is the case of the House Sparrow, a common sight and sound from home improvement stores to rural barns and churches. BirdNote®’s Michael Stein has more on this chirpy little bird.

BirdNote®
House Sparrows’ Dance

STEIN: Back in 1559, Duke August of Saxony ordered that the House Sparrows of Dresden be excommunicated.

[House Sparrow songs and calls, ML 169771]

The familiar birds were slipping into Holy Cross Church and interrupting the sermon with their exuberant chirping — and, as Duke August described it, their “endless unchaste behavior” before the altar.

[House Sparrow songs and calls, ML 169771]

It’s nearly 500 years later, and they’re still at it. That manic chirping can now be heard almost worldwide. Their cheeping and peeping rings from suburban rooftops, home improvement centers, and yes, even the inside of some churches.

[House Sparrow songs and calls, ML 169771]

House Sparrows are at their noisiest, and their most endearing, during the male’s courtship display. As he struts and spins in front of his intended, the little brown Romeo puffs out his handsome black breast and droops his wings and cocks his tail to expose the silvery feathers of his rump.

[House Sparrow songs and calls, ML 169771]

Other males soon join in, their chirping growing ever louder and faster as they face off. All the fuss and attention act as a “super-stimulus” to the flattered female.

[House Sparrow songs and calls, ML 169771]

Look for the sparrows’ underappreciated dance in your neighborhood. It might just be enough to distract you from the sermon, too.

I’m Michael Stein.

###


House Sparrows seem to thrive in the built environment, and can often be heard chirping away in home improvement stores, barns and churches. (Photo: © Dennis Sanderson))

Written by Rick Wright
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. 169771 recorded by Curtis A. Marantz.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
© 2017 Tune In to Nature.org July/August 2017/2019 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# HOSP-04-2017-07-11 HOSP-04

References:
Bugs and Beasts Before the Law, by E.P. Evans http://bit.ly/2rGRHi0
Communal Display of the House Sparrow, by D. Summers-Smith http://bit.ly/2rTLmAX

https://www.birdnote.org/show/house-sparrows-dance

BASCOMB: For pictures of the House Sparrow, strut on over to our website, LOE dot org.

 

Links

Learn more about the House Sparrow on the BirdNote® website

Audubon information on the House Sparrow

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: House Sparrow Life History

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth