The thriving House Sparrow: Tolerated by some, admired by others

One bird I can count on year-round at my place is the house sparrow. 

These little brown birds were first brought to America from England in 1850 in an attempt to control canker-worms.  Eight pair were released in Brooklyn but failed to survive.  So 100 more birds were imported in 1852.  They thrived.  Big time.

Unbelievably, more than a hundred cities in the U.S. and Canada released house sparrows in the next few years, mostly for insect control, but also because folks just liked the little sparrows.

They first came to Texas in the late 1860s, imported by James M. Brown.  By 1880, their nests had clogged Galveston’s water system and the sparrows had driven away many native songbirds, including the mockingbird.  Sentiment turned against the sparrows and some civic leaders were recommending they be killed.  Sparrow pot-pie became a favored item on many menus.

Today, house sparrows are tolerated by some and admired by others.  But one thing is certain; they are one of the most successful species of birds when it comes to living around humans.  They are smart, they are tough and they are here to stay.

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