Author(s): Amy-Jane Beer
Sparrows are often considered familiar to the point of invisibility, but the recent steep decline in numbers of both native British species is a reminder that these unassuming chatterboxes deserve a little more attention.Of all the true sparrow species found worldwide, only two occur in the British Isles. Globally, the story of the House Sparrow is one of dramatic expansion: from humble origins in the Middle East where they spread, along with agriculture, to become the most widely distributed bird on the planet. The smaller, more active Tree Sparrow has also spread extensively, following the domestication of rice rather than wheat, and both species have been heavily persecuted in recent years. In Spotlight Sparrows, Amy-Jane Beer examines the causes behind the decline of these familiar species, and explores their biology and life cycle, social behaviour, and the significant role that sparrows play in human culture, from Shakespeare and Edith Piaf to Captain Jack Sparrow.