Monday, April 6, 2009

April 6, 2009 - Causeway Street, Boston, Massachusetts

Back in the middle of the nineteenth century, several American cities imported English house sparrows. Boston was at the head of the list. It was a dumb, short-sighted move. But the lesson had not yet been learned.

They were brought in to control pests. Then they became pests. The classic tale.

The problem was that when they arrived, they lived in the cities - cities that were ruled by horses. And horse droppings. The house sparrows thrived on the grassy components, and multiplied. Then, the day came when the last horse left the city (well, not really, cops use them for special events, but you get the point). Without those droppings to live on, the house sparrows sought other worlds to conquer. They spread out into the countryside.

When they reached suburbia, they found the woodlands, and nesting holes in trees. It didn't matter to them if holes already had occupants, tufted titmice, downy woodpeckers, house wrens; they killed the young, pushed out the eggs and drove off the adults. Several species started on their declines.

Perhaps the numerous house sparrows I saw today on my walk to and around the Causeway Street area of the city were descendants of the original invaders. It's not that far-fetched.

Time: 36 minutes.

New species: None.

Stranger hellos: None.

What else is happening: meeting in Boston on planning a museum exhibit; research at the Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy; online research for an article; magazine work; newspaper work.

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