Daily Archives: July 25, 2012
For sometime, I’ve been noticing this strange-looking sparrow visiting my backyard. It didn’t look like the regular sparrows or chippies as my mother called them. Well, last Friday I went to lunch with my old high school buddies and one of them noted that a woman from Uganda had visited his house to see the birds in his yard. Naturally we forced an explanation out of him.
She visited to see one specific bird … the Eurasian Tree Sparrow. This is a bird native to Eastern Europe and Asia. And also, one particular spot in the United States … Saint Louis. Not all of Saint Louis, but a couple of select spots. How did it get here? Well, there’s two versions to the story of their arrival, and both center on German immigrants who settled in Saint Louis in the 1860s. Hey, that’s when my great-grandfather settled here!
The first tells about settlers who missed the birds of their homeland and had friends send them a mixed cage of birds. When the birds arrived, they were released in Lafayette Park in South Saint Louis. All the birds died, except for 12 Eurasian Tree Sparrows who went forth and multiplied.
The second versions mentions a wedding tradition of the immigrants of releasing Eurasian Tree Sparrows. So 200 sparrows were imported and released in Lafayette Park as part of the wedding ceremony.
Anyway, the birds migrated to several locations in the suburbs since they weren’t keen on city life. So locally, they now reside in Dogtown, the Hill, Afton and the wetlands around the Missouri and Mississippi River. The Mississippi River location is not that far from my house. In the last year or so, they’ve also been seen in southern Iowa and across the river in Illinois.
Here’s a photo of a young ETS visiting my yard for a snack. Notice how he differs from the regular sparrow. The other bird is a female cardinal.
So now, there’s something unique about my back yard. Feel free to come visit my only available in Saint Louis birds.