Country mouse on house sparrows

The neighbours have been having the most terrible rows. Barely a night passes without my sleep being disturbed. They are very sweet with their children, but, at any moment, their chat can descend into vicious, vulgar brawls. However, I’m still rather fond of our house sparrows. I think the cock sparrow is the most underrated British bird in terms of beauty; I just don’t know why they’re so quarrelsome. In full battle mode with each other, they become so consumed with hate that you can catch them with your bare hands as they tumble over the ground.

Yesterday, I found a dead sparrow. All its life’s beauty had deserted it and flies feasted on its corpse. However, I doubt its death was from a fight; I suspect it was a new fledgling that, like so many at this time of year, seem unable to make the leap from the nest to the outside world. Every year, we find the odd young songbird wondering around the ground, dazed and seemingly in the thrall of a long, drawn-out death. As a boy, I used to try and save them, tempting them with crumbs, but I never succeeded. For some reason, there are always a few fledglings born with the grip of death already around them.

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