Opportunistic and Cheeky Sparrows
House Sparrows are a very common introduced bird species here in South Australia. They seem to breed in good numbers in our garden. They can also be very opportunistic where it comes to feeding, and they can be very cheeky when doing so.
I saw a classic example in the CBD of Adelaide on Wednesday. I’d just been to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for a specialist appointment (everything was okay). I then visited one of my favourite bookshops in Rundle Mall. After a short wander through the shop – I resisted spending any money – it was time for some lunch.
I wandered into a nearby food mall where there were about a dozen choices of fast food. I resisted the less healthy options and bought an “Aussie Spud” – a potato with a variety of trimmings like cheese, beetroot, corn and pineapple. It was delicious and quite filling.
On entering the mall I noticed it was inhabited by a significant number of House Sparrows. The entrance is open throughout the day at both ends so it was easy for the birds to take up residence. Half way through my meal I accidentally dropped a small portion of potato on the floor.
Ooops. Careless of me.
I needn’t have worried. Within a second or two, about four sparrows swooped down from their perch on top of a television screen on the wall and the mess I’d made was devoured instantly.
Sadly I didn’t have my camera with me at the time.
When I was young (that is, years ago) there were lots of sparrows in Sydney. They seem to have largely disappeared. I’ve only seen 1 so far this year. The opportunitic scavengers are more likely to be Indian mynas.
Hi again Ken,
This is almost a universal trend. Sparrows in Europe, especially the UK,are down to a fraction of their normal numbers. Last I heard the experts couldn’t say why.
I’ve also heard that numbers are vastly reduced in the Adelaide metro area but they still very strong in rural areas. We have dozens in our garden.
When I visit my son and family in Artarmon I can’t help noticing an almost total absence of sparrows. Indian Mynas are certainly aggressive and will force out less assertive species like wrens, finches and the like.This is a major environmental issue in some places.
The Adelaide situation is different: no Mynas (with only the occasional one which is quickly dispatched). In this case I suspect it is the aggressive Noisy Miner to blame – but this is a native Australian honeyeater. Miners are also a widespread problem, taking over from the smaller birds.