Monday, September 22, 2008

Sparrow Hatch

a sparrow in a bush with a bird feeder
Dear Ed,
Reading your piece on robins, reminds me that the sparrow is said to be an endangered species these days. Well, not so in Aldborough Hatch! My front garden in Spearpoint Gardens (Aldborough Road North) is a veritable haven for sparrows. I have nuts and fat balls in a shrub and have to replenish every other day. The sparrow roost in a holly tree on the opposite side of the road. They fly over twice a day, stopping off in my neighbour's holly hedge before dropping down on the nuts and fat balls. They also take a bath from time to time in the bird bath or water feature. Great! I attach a photograph taken this past week.
Ron Jeffries


  1. I have just had a robin nesting in my garden. They have just left the nest.I hope they are all OK cos I may have disturbed them a bit prematurelyMy wife was extremely angry, my nuts and fat balls are hanging in my tree also.

  2. Ooooh. Nasty.

    Interesting about hedge sparrows and holly. My resident sparrow gang hang out in the Silver Queen holly in my front garden. When they come into my back garden, my resident robin chases them away.

    So many hedges have been dug up around here to make way for front garden car parking that hedge sparrows have fewer places to nest. It looks as though holly is their next choice after the old privet hedge has gone.

    More holly bushes, please. Female ones produce berries for the birds to eat in winter, but male ones are also needed for pollination. Silver Queen and Gold King are two of the best, and you can guess what sex they are!

  3. Interested to see that the point about paving over front gardens comes up yet again. But it is not only front gardens that are being paved in Aldborough Hatch. Back gardens, too, are going under concrete. It is surely time that Government took action to tighten the planning laws. Our local roads flood when it rains for the drains are unable to cope with the water. It will not be long before that water starts to enter our homes.
    Ron Jeffries

  4. I think it was Cllr Fairley-Churchill who mentioned about special regulations for concreting over your front garden coming into effect very soon. (A special material which absorbs the rain.)
    A brave person asked how that was going to be enforced and he said that neighbours would report it to enforcement and that would work!
    You have to be a masochist to contact enforcement and, should you stand the pain and get to an adviser, they don't know what you are talking about and put the phone down on you.
    How many stars are awarded to the Council?

  5. Neighbours will report it to enforcement? Suggests that the Stasi may be alive and well.

    Too much to hope, I suppose, that councillors - particularly those in the cabinet - will ensure that officers do the jobs for which they are generously remunerated, as are the cabinet members themselves.

  6. B21 - You really shouldn't get me on the subject of our dear House Sparrow - the following is just a bit of the study involved:
    Diversity of Mhc class I and IIB genes in house sparrows (Passer domesticus)
    Authors: Bonneaud, Camille; Sorci, Gabriele Morin, Véronique Westerdahl, Helena Zoorob, Rima Wittzell, Håkan
    Source: “Immunogentics”, Volume 55, Number 12, March 2004 , pp. 855-865(11)
    Publisher: Springer

    In order to understand the expression and evolution of host resistance to pathogens, we need to examine the links between genetic variability at the major histocompatibility complex (Mhc), phenotypic expression of the immune response and parasite resistance in natural populations. To do so, we characterized the Mhc class I and IIB genes of house sparrows with the goal of designing a PCR-based genotyping method for the Mhc genes using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). The incredible success of house sparrows in colonizing habitats worldwide allows us to assess the importance of the variability of Mhc genes in the face of various pathogenic pressures. Isolation and sequencing of Mhc class I and IIB alleles revealed that house sparrows have fewer loci and fewer alleles than great reed warblers. In addition, the Mhc class I genes divided in two distinct lineages with different levels of polymorphism, possibly indicating different functional roles for each gene family. This organization is reminiscent of the chicken B complex and Rfp-Y system. The house sparrow Mhc hence appears to be intermediate between the great reed warbler and the chicken Mhc, both in terms of numbers of alleles and existence of within-class lineages. We specifically amplified one Mhc class I gene family and ran the PCR products on DGGE gels. The individuals screened displayed between one and ten DGGE bands, indicating that this method can be used in future studies to explore the ecological impacts of Mhc diversity.

    B21 - in short - house sparrows have been identified Worldwide and separated from the many 'forms' of sparrow or sparrow-like species.
    There is even a line of thought that House Sparrows live in hedges. Some of course do and some live in buildings while others prefer structures such as open-plan multi-tier car parks etc.
    The House Sparrow is a definite species - but has several near 'relatives' and similar sized and coloured species - but it is down to the Genes - and this is where the bland wide-spreading statements that "House Sparrows are in decline" falls down with a resounding Thump. Sparrows of all varieties have the ability to adapt, and will do so if the "habitat" changes or circumstances cause their habitat to become unsuitable.
    B21 - how much space have you for this subject.
    Nevertheless I reakon you get the picture.
    Richard Cooper (in the Wanstead wild-flower meadow).

  7. I also have a plentiful supply of sparrows, which frequent my pyrecantha and the overgrown Christmas tree in my front garden in Wanstead. I have a feeder for seed and a holder for peanut cake, both of which they enjoy, and my neighbour also has food in the in the trees in her front garden. They have nested for several years in the eaves of my house; every now and again, jobbing builders knock on my door and offer to repair the hole under the gutter, and look very surprised when I inform them that it isn't a hole, it's where the sparrows live.