A BAD one for the road

Well the  Hodgson’s Textured Pipits had a very mixed reception so today I shall offer you one for the road without any tinkering whatsoever. It is as simple as you can get. A humble sparrow. The Tree Sparrow in fact, Passer Montanus.

In my 1969 copy of The Observer’s Book of Birds (priced at a very reasonable 7/-) it says ‘avoids the dwellings of man’. Well of course that is certainly not true in Hong Kong where it is as much an urban as it is a rural bird. I find it mildly amusing that the publisher did not think it necessary to say “British Birds”. I suspect it was assumed that as the world centred around Britain and there were still plenty of pink bits on the map that it was completely unnecessary to state the obvious. The first edition was published in 1937, before I was born and the empire began to crumble. Its age is also betrayed by the word ‘dwellings’. Not too many dwellings around nowadays. How lovely is your dwelling place….. Psalm 84, is perhaps still in vogue (Rod?) but if I go to the real estate agent and ask for a list of dwelling places on the market I think they might mistake me for a sparrow-brain. Finally, the sparrow was clearly so boring that TOBoB only illustrated it with a black and white photo. Scandalous. Here is a bird screaming out for colour. And here it is:

Tree Sparrow Tree-sparrow


I shall be looking out for sparrows in Dubai. The Tree Sparrow is most unlikely but the House Sparrow should be on parade. In fact I may well ask the concierge at the hotel if I can have one delivered to my room. As we all know, in Dubai Disneyland everything is possible and all our wishes can come true.


18 thoughts on “A BAD one for the road

  1. No Tree Sparrows in Dubai because, um, there are no trees? This was meant as a joke, but probably translates poorly over email. I’m sure the landscape architects designed beautiful grounds with trees here and there that any sparrow would take advantage of.
    I am always working, I have 4.5 yr old twins and a 3 yr old, but my paid work is so much more enjoyable when I decide the shifts/hours I work. Some days I’d rather be at work than home!
    I got quite a laugh at the Dubai/Disneyland comparison. For a man in Dubai, that may be true, I wouldn’t fare so well.

    • I used to enjoy work Caroline but after 30 odd years I wanted a different lifestyle. Now I choose pretty much what I want to do and when. It is quite scary when the pay stops coming in but we survive. Dubai is quite a liberal emirate. Perhaps too liberal for the other emirates. Certainly Abu Dhabi has a much more conservative view of life and has supposedly sought to influence Dubai back towards more traditional values. Most Western women cope fine but there are other challenges, not least the harsh summer climate. I find the Arabs a most hospitable people. Relationships are important and it is critical to know how people are connected. Not unlike China in fact. It can be a bit surreal but by and large it works.

  2. Well it looks like the House Sparrow that was imported to US back in the late 1800’s, I think. Those little boogers look nothng like our native Tree Sparrow. Now this is a non-descript bird of there ever was one. Supposedly these little birds are quit smart. Both shots are very good. I like the second one the best.

  3. There doesn’t appear to be as many sparrows around here these days compared to a few years ago.
    For several years we used to have what I labelled ‘The Sparrow Gang’ living in the hedge in the garden. They’d all come out together, feed together then fly back into the hedge, sadly I haven’t seen them for a couple of years 😦

    • Vicky, sparrows are in steep decline in Britain. Originally it was the Tree Sparrow but now I believe the House Sparrow is following suit. I hope you will have a go at the garden birdwatch that Geoff refers to in his comment. It is not fully understood why the sparrow numbers have dropped so dramatically. There are several theories but none is proven to my knowledge.

  4. These are my friends. We have both tree and house sparrow (and dunnocks) all round the house (UK village near farmland). We keep hearing about the decline, but they are thriving just here.

  5. Lots of dwell and dwelling in the’good book’. Also in the Canadian lingo, real estate definitions still state single-family-dwelling or multiple dwelling.
    I think our census also lists numbers of people in the delling. Must be because, as you know, every Canafian reads the Bible every day. Well maybe not Justin Bieber or Rob Ford.
    Lots of European Hpuse Sparrows here. The Tree Sparrows are a little harder to spot and far less common

    Great photos of your TSs they look very well with no post processing twiddling needed.
    Enjoy Dubai. I still like the Creek the best

  6. 7/-, wow!! expensive eh? Sometimes I have to stop and think old money, and I always believe when decimalization came in ‘they’ took their chance and increased prices willy nilly, hoping joe public would be too thick to notice. and things have never been the same since.. 😉 now , Sparrow’s, few and far between but love the l’il fellows. xx

  7. you might know that I absolutely love sparrows and enjoy my “gang” outside very much ❤ They are beautiful and funny birds with a character. I hope you do find sparrows at home and spoil us with more great photos of these magnificent birds. Keep 'em coming!
    The tree sparrow is not very common here in Switzerland anymore and even the house sparrow is fighting as they loose more and more breeding places 😦

  8. Tree Sparrows are quite common here and not at all shy about coming near dwellings…especially if they have filled tubes of seed. Of course, we are talking a different species altogether as ours is Spizella arborea. Yours bears a closer resemblance to our House Sparrow…Passer domesticus.
    Did you spot any Passer dubaiousus while traveling?

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