They call him Mr Sparrow
An engineer by profession, J Denis Summers-Smith chose house sparrows as an amateur study subject in 1947 because they could be seen on his doorstep. Over 70 years, the modest, self-taught ornithologist has produced a plethora of books, articles and scientific papers about the birds, and has observed members of the sparrow family worldwide. His best-known book, called simply The Sparrows, is a classic monograph in the highly collectible Poyser series.
“House moves were contingent on the presence of breeding house sparrows,” Denis Summers-Smith wrote, and his studies were conducted “before breakfast, on business travel, in offices, stations and even from the dentist’s chair”. Retirement brought the opportunity for more sparrow work which, now in his late 90s, he continues in north-east England. As he has said: “Sparrows live in our urban habitat, and if something is happening to them it is high time we knew what it is, because it may be happening
to us later.”
Ornithologist Denis SummersSmith – the last word on all things sparrow.