Garden Guests: Sparrows

Even though a small 10x3m (about 30x10ft) patch of grass is not a garden in the true sense of  the word, thanks to all the work the missus put into it, the once-empty spot now looks like a miniature version of an English garden which attracts quite a few guests, including blackbirds, green finches, wood pigeons, and sparrows.

I love sparrows. Despite their unassuming plumage, these tiny creatures have a lot of personality. I can literally spend hours watching them feeding, socializing, bickering, and sand bathing in our garden. It took us several attempts to make sparrows feel at home in our garden. For some reason they voted down the feeder mounted on a pole, but a simple wooden board on the ground proved to be a huge success.

When summer arrives, the sparrows build nests under our roof, so it’s rather convenient for them to have the fly-in restaurant nearby. In the morning, a sparrow’s nest sounds like any other family: a cacophony of hungry kids demanding breakfast and parents arguing about whose turn it is to clean the house and find food. The hardships of raising kids don’t seem to affect the parents much: they are always in good spirits, cheeky, and ready for some action.

Sparrows in Berlin are a particularly cheeky bunch. One day I was enjoying my tea and cheese cake al fresco, when suddenly a couple of hungry rascals landed right next to the plate and started nibbling my cake. These sparrows were cheeky but not stupid: before the raid, they spent a great deal of time on the roof planning the operation, solving the risk/reward equation and assessing the chances of success. You could see them coordinating the action and sending signals to each other right before the attack. It was funny to watch them hurriedly consuming the cake — with cream all over their beaks — looking at me every now and then as if they were apologizing for their bad manners.

Sparrows in our garden rarely pay attention to the guy who spends most of the day pecking on the keyboard. Occasionally, though, they come close to the glass terrace door just to see if there is anything interesting going on inside the house. Or they just sit on the garden table, cleaning their beaks and relaxing. That’s when I grab my camera and try to take a few shots. They don’t seem to mind, and that I’m really grateful for.

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