A Ubiquity of Sparrows: The Early Bird...
On my first visit in 2015 to the Museum für Naturkunde (the Museum of Natural History) in Berlin, I encountered a diorama in the ornithology exhibits which looked at birds in the urban environment. Prominently displayed was a municipal public garbage can filled with ersatz garbage, and festooned with a handful of species of birds. In terms of sheer numbers, sparrows were amply represented (I have included a few photos of the display for context).
This in turn reminded me of the collective noun for sparrows, “ubiquity”, and so a flock of sparrows is known as a “ubiquity of sparrows”. And they truly seemed ubiquitous in Berlin! At every outdoor café the songbirds could be seen hopping about the feet of patrons. Flocks exploded out of the bushes and trees which had concealed them save for their bursts of song.
I began thinking about what makes some bird species so successful. For example, there have long been arguments about whether birds like the sparrow have extended their range because they are adaptable regarding diet and environment and aggressive toward native species, crowding more the vulnerable native species out of their habitats. Other opinions argue for a more passive encroachment; as vulnerable native species succumb to environmental pressures precipitated primarily by humans, other species, such as sparrows, move in to occupy the void.
Which has led to my observations of the sparrow’s behavior, and ours in relation to theirs, photographing them in urban settings.
Photography : Berlin Sparrows
Sparrow dioramas: Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
At every outdoor café the songbirds could be seen hopping about the feet of patrons. Flocks exploded out of the bushes and trees which had concealed them save for their bursts of song.