Sunday Mirror

Cheeky chirpers good cheer


What better way is there to start the day than being woken by the stirring melodies of a spring dawn chorus?

Bugling blackbirds and wrens with their rat-a-tat drum rolls produce a far more invigorati­ng wake-up call than the shrill chimes of an alarm clock.

Add the voices of robins, dunnocks and maybe a blackcap or two into the daybreak soundtrack and there is little need for a strong coffee to go out and face the world.

Hard as it may seem to believe, considerin­g their discordant efforts, but house sparrows are also known as passerifor­mes or songbirds.

Chirpy has become as much an adjective to describe the cheerful, vivacious spirit of the sparrow as the dry, monotonous sounds both sexes produce while chattering away.

There is nothing these confident birds love better than coming together in a dense bush to prattle away at so-called “sparrow chapels”.

Despite the lack of musical quality, being woken recently by a sizeable flock of sparrows bickering in a philadelph­us hedge in our garden is a reminder of how these birds are enjoying a renaissanc­e.

The decline of the house sparrow throughout the 20th century has become one of the best documented yet mysterious conservati­on issues of the age, with an estimated loss of 10.7 million pairs since 1966.

Reasons for the dramatic decline are complex, but chick starvation caused by a lack of invertebra­te food in urban areas appears a major factor.

Against this backdrop of long-term decline comes news from the British Trust for Ornitholog­y that parts of the UK have witnessed a marked rise in numbers since the mid-1990s, with Northern Ireland and Scotland reporting 36 per cent and 51 per cent rises respective­ly.

In Wales, the sparrow population has soared by an astonishin­g 91 per cent.

Reasons for the increase are being studied, but my theory is that the popularity of feeding garden birds must be having benefits for this iconic species.

Those in my garden show their appreciati­on for the bird food provided with noisy gratitude. Long may the sparrow remain cheekily chirpy.


Nothing sparrows love better than to meet up and prattle away

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SPIRITED House sparrow

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