As I walked to a seminar on GxE interactions as they influence recovery from traumatic brain injury this morning, I saw sitting in the middle of the very busy sidewalk a lovely
little song sparrow with little white stripes on its head and with yellow near the eyes, such a beautiful bird. A white-throated sparrow. She was very much alive but not moving, and the way she sat there didn’t look right, with her tailfeathers resting on the ground, as if she’d had been stunned or something. So I watched a minute and then approached, spoke softly, picked her up slowly, gently, moved her to the cover of a nearby planting. There she’d have some shade and privacy and be less likely to be stepped on by our rushing unobservant feet. On my return trip I looked in the
planting and she was gone, so I hope she was only momentarily stunned and had come to her senses and found more suitable environs in the park nearby. I also took a walk at lunchtime and saw a snowy egret, a goose family, and many other things.
On the white-throated sparrow, from Birds of America by Gilbert by Pearson et al (1917): “This is not only one of the handsomest of the Sparrows; it is perhaps the sweetest singer of them all. The pity of it is that comparatively little is seen or heard of him by humans who would be glad to know him better; for he shows his fetching black, white, and yellow-striped cap, his white ascot tie and his warm brown jacket, and sings his beautiful little song, only on his way to and from his breeding ground in the Canadian forests….The piano conveys only a very faint suggestion of the truly ethereal quality with which the singer invests this simple little phrase. Played with a very skillfully executed tremolo effect well up on the E string of a fine violin, the notes convey a more definite idea of the song, though the bird’s tune is not that of the violin. Essentially the song is a lament- a lament which is wistful and ineffably plaintive, but in which there is no despair, only sweet hopefulness.”