Boring birds?

House Sparrows, the most common birds in the world, can be boring.

While other bird watchers were seeing Storm Petrels blown inland by freak weather, I saw House Sparrows.

But they were doing something unusual.

I was walking along the Hudson River near New York’s Meatpacking District, a funky neighborhood of skinny girls who work in fashion and not-skinny guys who work in meatpacking plants.

In the water, brown from a recent hurricane, there were clusters of old wooden pylons sticking out.

While barren at first, they were descended upon by a gang of House Sparrows. What the hell?

You expect these city birds on sidewalks, alleys and garbage cans. Not on slippery wood. No sea birds were around to see. Just surprising sparrows.

Habitat of a subspecies?

Habitat of a subspecies?

They were boring their wet beaks into crannies on the soggy wood.

The beaks of House Sparrows are suited for cracking, but they were boring anyway.

Not pecking. Boring. Pushing and twisting, rooting out some edible crap, undoubtedly from the sushi family of foods.

They reminded me of the way Sanderlings stick their longer beaks into wet sand for seafood bits. They also reminded me of woodpeckers, flickers and sapsuckers, the way they held on and bored in.

These birds seemed more upbeat than House Sparrows on the streets. They were into spray, algae, dead fish, Atlantic storms. They were waterfront-tough.

If they keep at it, maybe they’ll constitute a subspecies some day. River Sparrows. Fish Sparrows. Hudson Sparrows. Marine Sparrows.

I mentioned this to a two-fisted birdwatcher I know. I said sparrows were boring into the wood of old river pylons.

The guy seemed doubtful, and said, “House Sparrows aren’t boring birds.”

I thought about it. And said: “Exactly.”

7 Responses to “Boring birds?”

  1. rcastanette says:

    Two fisted , it sounds like a guy who loves the natural world trying to balance a macho image in his head with the beauty that is all around us. Let it go and be that guy who watches birds and kicks ass when he needs to.
    The natural world is us, animals are us. Have some fun. Birding is magic .
    surfdog 70

  2. Abraham Zion says:

    Reply to Rob L
    I agree House Sparrows (Passer domesticus), even boring ones, do not rise to the level of Two-Fisted. However, having just read Mike’s “Viewpoints” post “Ospreys, red light, green light,
    I nominate these awesome raptors as “Two Fisted!”
    After watching this video, I think you will agree.

    a. zion

  3. Ruth says:

    My first time here, and I understand why you call yourself the Two-fisted birdwatcher–catchy. Interesting post and I truly enjoyed the humor. Many people were indeed watching for the the ocean birds. I love the picture too.

  4. Ron Heard says:

    Reading about those boring LBBs (Little Brown Birds), in which nomenclature House Sparrows fit, I paused and headed out to the kitchen for another cup of coffee. I glanced out the window and watched the House Finches working my black sunflower feeder… and I realized I haven’t seen a House Sparrow in a very long time. Not complaining, mind you, but I have read somewhere that the House Finches will actually outmuscle a House Sparrow every time…kind of in a “two-fisted” way. Don’t know if that’s true, but it is hopeful! Thanks as always for refocusing my morning on small. but important–at least to me–things!

  5. Rob L says:

    and once again, great words by Mike! Never boring!

  6. Rob L says:

    To AZ, my guess is nothing that can be termed “two-fisted,” is allowed to eat sushi or anything in the sushi family. Sushi means rice, and sashimi means raw fish, which is only two-fisted if you call it raw fish and not sashimi. If there’s a bird that deserves the two fisted name (which is a genius idea btw) I vote we keep looking.

  7. Abraham Zion says:

    Do you ever utter or write a phrase that does not have a double entendre or adianoeta? House Sparrows boring are indeed not dull, ho-hum, irksome, slow, tedious, tiresome, uninteresting, passe, dated, so not interesting, or wearisome.
    Here are some alternate suggestions for the new sub-species nomenclature: Dental Sparrows, Well-driller Sparrows, Auger Sparrows, and, of course, the most obvious which you are to modest to suggest: TWO-FISTED SPARROWS!
    A. ZION