Saturday essay: Sparrows of winter
The unusual movement was caught out of one eye's corner, through the window above the kitchen sink while peeling potatoes.
Upon further observation, yes, it appeared that another bird had become trapped in the greenhouse, likely gaining access through a torn screen in the cupola high atop, one that repair time had forgotten. Time for the “bird glove,” time yet again for man-assisted freedom.
But wait, no, the sparrow wasn't trapped at all. Neither was it alone. A family of sparrows had taken up residence in the greenhouse, still heated to just above freezing in hopes of making surprisingly resilient brussels sprouts the last crop of the season (after the previously planned last crop of the season, that is — romaine lettuce harvested for Christmas dinner).
At least four sparrows were busy commuting to the bird feeder just outside, filled with fresh black stripe sunflower seed. Two would partake as two others stood guard atop the cupola. They then traded off. All then would retreat to a pair of greenhouse ferns, where they were finding additional insulation.
Oh, indeed, the sparrows will love this weekend's January thaw. But what some forecasters say will be a “brutal cold wave” is about to set in. And keeping the greenhouse above freezing, already straining the budget, will become cost-prohibitive.
These hardy last sparrows of winter will continue to have shelter, though not nearly as toasty. But as nature goes her own way, so, too, will the sparrows, perhaps remembering their greenhouse way station, maybe returning to become the first sparrows of spring.
— Colin McNickle
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Social Security’s mess
- Collaring the EPA: Hold the cigars
- McKeesport Tuesday Takes
- Apple Music & Taylor Swift: A good & timely lesson
- Checking the Somali threat: A-s-s-i-m-i-l-a-t-i-o-n
- U.N. Watch: Sanction sidestep
- Cemetery crisis
- Sunday pops
- Saving RiverQuest
- Alle-Kiski Tuesday takes
- Greensburg Tuesday takes