Sunday, 18 November 2012

Passer Domesticus

What kind of person brings a House Sparrow all the way to Australia in the 1860s? That's late in terms of settlement. Europeans had been headed here for about 80 years by then so it wasn't as if sending sparrows was a high priority. And sparrows couldn't have stowed away like rats and cockroaches. Someone had to keep them alive for months, aboard a ship. Someone really cared. Someone really wanted sparrows in Australia. And clearly that someone hadn't factored all the fab birds already here, that make for way better birdwatching. What kind of thinking is this?

Much to the embarrassment of my husband, I photographed this sparrow at the Farmers Markets on the weekend and decided the local Farmers Markets are now within my Majura Range. It's a destination I walk to regularly so why not? Chatting to the cherry sellers I asked about their season. Light, they said, because  of rain. What about native birds attacking the crop? I asked casually. Yes big problem. We can't do anything about them, and sparrows too.


Reference for dating entry of sparrows to Oz,


  1. I'm glad you took this photo! It really made me think.... I'd never thought that the introduction of sparrows was an active decision. It does seem odd now. I found a fascinating document about introduced species when I went looking about sparrows

    From a fellow Canberran it seems. I didn't know that cattle egrets and spotted turtle doves were also introduced species. Also rather fascinating is that there was a Victorian Acclimatisation Society founded in 1861 just a few years before quite a few of these species were introduced. I wonder if it was their efforts? I'm sure it would make a lovely phD subject for someone.

  2. Yes birds and animals are generally introduced for a reason. Mynas were introduced to the Canberra area in the 1960s as someone liked their song. It's hard to believe isn't it? Many species do not survive introduction and of course many others thrive at the expense of the fragile Australian biota.