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In the Shadow of the Crowned

Based on true events

Unfortunately, being a very small sparrow is a very big inconvenience. Now, I do not wish to create a mountain out of a molehill, but when you have a sparrow that is almost twice as large as yourself eating not more than a few centimetres away, well, the situation is nearer to a mountain. The afternoon was hot when this most unpleasant experience occurred, a day when hunger was at its greatest and the sun was at its brightest. With a swoop, I landed as usual in my habitual feeding area beneath an old gnarled apple tree, and proceeded to peck up the scrumptious seed which lay scattered upon the ground.  But hardly had I tasted my cup of heavenly safety and solitude, when I heard a flurry of another pair of wings far larger and far more powerful than my own. Immediately, an imposing shadow was cast across my meal, and  with all the meekness which comes with fear, I raised my head. There, right before me was a giant White-crowned Sparrow. I am sure of what was in its mind as it gazed at my trembling figure. I am certain it thought: “Look at that tiny Chipping Sparrow! Should I frighten  it away and eat my seed in peace or should I put up with its irritating presence?” For a tense moment, I noticed that it was in preference of the former, and it crouched, ready to drive me away. I shivered and prepared to fly, and our eyes met, and the eyes I saw were as intense as an ocean surf. But then to my surprise and relief, those eyes were lowered, and my opponent  picked up a seed in its bill with all the nonchalance which became a crowned king. Then it began to scratch with unbelievable strength  in the seed, each far greater than any of my own scratches. For a length, I looked upon the immense sparrow, but eventually my fears were eased, and I commenced to feed myself. But, though I did all I could to ignore  this Hercules of sparrows, I could not help but listen to its claws rubbing dryly against the seed as it foraged, and I was once again dismayed by their sheer power. Each and every time the noise came to me, I gave a jolt of terror in the knowledge of their sharp points.  Yes, they were far longer, yet they could not have been any sharper than my own, but such is the ponderings of a mind bound in agony. How could one possibly partake of  a meal while dreading at every moment that a sharer in the feast could give you a splendid scare at any moment? I very nearly choked upon a grain when the sparrow suddenly came a millimeter nearer. How could I swallow another? Finally, the strain upon my mind grew to titanic proportions, far larger than any sparrow could overcome, and I arose into the air in puff of wings and fled for my feathers. I returned a few minutes later when the area was as empty and still as before, yet it is a great inconvenience to be so near the bottom of the pecking order. But it is an even greater inconvenience to be such a mite of  a sparrow.

Chipping Sparrow
Spizella passerina

A cute little sparrow with a chestnut crown, the Chipping Sparrow is a common sight in backyards. It has light grey underparts, neck and cheeks, light brown wings mottled with darker brown, a black line through each of its eyes, and a white brow over each of those. It may seem complex, but there is no reason to worry. The only other species which resembles this sparrow is the American Tree Sparrow, which can be distinguished by a spot on its breast, a brown line through each eye instead of black and grey brows replacing the white. The Chipping Sparrow is a migrant species and comes all the way from the southern part of United States and Mexico. It gives a rapid grasshopper-like song which remains upon one pitch and is less metallic than that of the Dark-eyed Junco.

White-crowned Sparrow
Zonotrichia leucophrys

This magnificent sparrow is a yard-visitor who demands much attention to its presence. From its grey belly and brown-striped wings to its striking black eye-lines topped with white, and the two black streaks above those, it is a fashion icon of birds. It even has a bright orange bill! The White-crowned Sparrow is similar in appearance to the White-throated Sparrow, but has no yellow above its eyes, and no distinct white throat. White-crowned Sparrows are usually found upon the ground and have migrated from southern British Colombia, western and southern United States and Mexico.

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Wednesday August 4, 2021