Monday, July 2, 2012

What I Learned About Sparrows

The white sparrow prompted me to do some surfing.  I learned a few things about  sparrows in general.
  • Their Latin name is Passer domesticus.  The common name derives from the Middle English sparewe.  They are may also be referred to as spodgie, spuggy,or sprog.
  • Sparrows are the most common wild bird on earth.
  • They are used as a Christian symbol to signify the importance of all things in God’s eyes, and extending on that, as a symbol of God’s presence.
  • In many European traditions, the sparrow is an omen of death.  If one flies into your house you should catch it and break its little neck or otherwise you will die yourself.  If a sparrow flies into your house and lands on your piano—that’s really bad.  You are doomed. (A sparrow did fly into our house once a couple of summers ago.  Mike picked it up and took it back outside.  Neither of us died, but thank goodness we don’t have a piano!)
  • Both Chauser and Shakespeare referenced the sparrow’s lecherous sexual behavior in their work.
  • Sparrow pie was a common rural dish until around the early 1900’s.
  • Ancient Egyptians considered the sparrow a soul catcher.  Sailors would often have a tattoo of a sparrow so that their souls would be carried to heaven if they died at sea.
  • In the Indonesian culture, sparrows are omens of good luck. (Indonesians are SO much more cheerful than Europeans, I think.) If a sparrow flies into your house, it is a sign that there will soon be a wedding.
  • The Indonesians also say that if a woman sees a sparrow on Valentine’s Day, it is a sign that she will happily married to a poor man.
About white sparrows, I learned:
  • A true albino sparrow would have pink eyes, feet, and beak.
  • A condition called leucism is responsible for white skin and feathers on all or part of the body in some sparrows.  An all white sparrow like our little fellow is quite rare.
  • Life can be cruel and white birds are easy to spot by predators.
  • Often white birds are subject to hostility from their own flock.
The white sparrow seems to be accepted by the other sparrows that congregate at our feeder.  He is alarmingly visible, although quite beautiful.  We are rooting for him.


  1. This is very interesting. I was wondering about the white sparrow. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. I'm also rooting for it. It's tough when you stand out in a crowd, even for a bird.

  3. Death, happiness, good luck, and pie - who knew? I'm rooting for your little white guy, too.

  4. I love thes fact. I don't think I knew any of them. I'm really glad you don't own a piano.

  5. Thanks for the interesting facts. Love the different interpretations of a sparrow in the house. I do like the positive ones better.

  6. You wonder how they survive without camouflage!
    Greetings from Cottage Country!

  7. Thanks for sharing that with us. I hope he continues with you for a long time. Very fun; update on occasion, if you would please :)

  8. What interesting facts. I enjoy the sparrows on my patio - they often are ignored for their flashier companions. I have noticed a white squirrel in my neighborhood this summer.

  9. Great info! I sure hope your little friend is able to hide from his predators and hang around for you! Fingers are crossed.

  10. During World War II, a sparrow flew into my grandmother's house and landed on my uncle's photograph on the piano. Next to it was a statue of the child Jesus. When the sparrow left the house, it was found that one of the fingers had broken off the statue. Later that day, a telegram was received that my uncle had been wounded in battle In Europe and that he had kost a finger.


I appreciate readers' comments so much. You don't even always have to agree with me.