Sunday, 16 February 2014

"The Sparrow Loves Berlin's Chaos"

... though instead of 'chaos' some choose the word "mess". 
Our mayor gaily coined the phrase "Berlin is poor, but sexy". And when the sparrows heard this they came in flocks to this wonderful city - opposite of our house about 70 of them sit in a huge bush (that is not a poetic hyperbole!) and yell - maybe they have worn headphones far too long, or went to too many rock concerts and thus are as deaf as many of our poor kids I see hear every day in the underground... 
In many regions of Middle Europe the population of sparrows has diminuished rapidly  - mostly because refurbished buildings don't offer many breeding sites in niches and cavities anymore. And there is not much sand to be found any longer, which they need to take their 'bath'. Cities for sparrows must not be too orderly - otherwise not even the best winter feeding will help. 
In Berlin they thrive, and  you see signposts in many Berlin restaurants in summer: "Please don't feed the sparrows" - because they are a real plague, jumping onto your plate with cake while you eat - wink insolently at you and munch. As they did to my utter astonishment at McDonald's: there are whole sparrow families living solely on French fries - though I think I don't see them here on our balcony on the second store, too obese by now... 
I read in an article that from most birds - we have about 200 species in Germany - only 15 come regularly to feeding places in gardens or balconies. 
Though I see in the year a wide variety of birds on my balcony (well - "wide" for a city), for feeding come mostly sparrows, followed closely by - sparrows, then five Brothers in Arms, meaning the great titmouse (I know them personally), and sometimes comes a blue tit (then I get excited - I love their heavenly blue!), while the Eurasian jay waits till warmer times to dig in my box pots. And magpies and doves and crows fly past, thank you very much, and the wren, blackbirds (who sang this morning for the very first time since late autumn), robins, a great spotted woodpecker  and even nightingales prefer to bustle in our huge and wild backyard. 
Today, after years of uncertainty, I got a bird riddle solved: I learned from Joanne Noragon's blog "Cup on the Bus" that in the time of my garden in Hildesheim we once had tufted titmice as guests. 
At that time I thought the mysterious birds wore a 'quiff'. 
Elvis - Reloaded.  


  1. Really enjoyed reading about your city birds- as I sit here listening to my country birds :-) I rarely get to see the Jay, so was thrilled you get to see them in The city!

  2. Dear Susan,
    the jay is for me an example for the French expression "Belle Laide" - he has beautiful feathers, but an ugly voice - though maybe Mme Jay thinks he is the best singer in the whole wide world :-)
    I was also astonished to see him here. We have a lot of oaks in our road, so maybe...

  3. On my way to and from school each day in my miniature years, I would marvel at the sparrows flitting in and out of the privet hedges that surrounded most houses but alas those days are a distant memory but I discovered to much amusement, that they love Las Vegas as they were in great abundance on my last visit.

  4. Dear Mr. Paul,
    when you mention the privet it is there, suddenly: the smell of those tiny white blossoms - the rows of hedges I went along to school - seldom thought of them till now, thank you for reminding me!
    I am not surprised that the sparrows love Las Vegas. Intuitively I choose the photo I once made at an exhibition in Hamburg of Elvis' jackett - so my feeling was right :-)

  5. Ha - and I almost guessed that it might be you, Paul - I should have looked up your beautiful icon first, than I would have found out in the beginning, dropped the formal "Mr." and have written "Dear Paul",