"The Sparrow & Me" by Anthony Picardi
Hey little birdie, what’s with the white cap?
Sparrow: Little birdie? Show some respect. Do you call your friends ‘little people’?
Well, it’s just that a white-throated sparrow isn’t supposed to have a white cap.
Sparrow: You are complaining to me about my white cap?
It is highly unusual. You are only supposed to have white head stripes.
Sparrow: Maybe you need to be a bit more tolerant. Why are you piling up sumac seeds?
I am trying to get rid of the sumac that is invading the grass meadow.
Sparrow: Are you going to eat them?
Sparrow: Humans are weird.
Are you treated differently because of your white cap?
Sparrow: That is a strange idea. Do you ever wear a white hat?
Yes, but I am grey under it. I think you are leucistic.
Sparrow: You need to drop this. What are you going to do with the sumac?
Dispose of it far away.
Sparrow: What if some birds eat some and poop them out here again?
I suppose it is a constant battle.
Sparrow: What if a deer eats some and SHE comes over and poops in your garden?
Yeah, I know it is a long-term battle with these invasives.
Sparrow: With all these battles, do you have time to feed yourself?
Yes, we buy food with our savings.
Sparrow: Sounds like a lot of trouble, why not eat the sumac seeds that you have already harvested?
Well, we don’t enjoy sumac seeds.
Sparrow: You don’t seem to enjoy much at all.
Why do you say that?
Sparrow: I never hear you singing out here.
I can’t just perch in a tree and sing all day. I have obligations.
Sparrow: That’s a little angry. Maybe you should look around and find something to sing about.
What would I sing about? What do you sing about?
Sparrow: I am happy to be alive. OOO-sweeeet-pibbity-pibbity-pibbity.
Is that all it takes for you to be happy? You don’t need things like a nice nest?
Sparrow: No, I don’t need a big nest to make me happy like you.
You are right. But don’t you feel anxious that someday you won’t be able to find enough to eat?
Sparrow: Sometimes, but I keep on looking.
Do you get hungry without a food store?
Sparrow: We don’t get fat. You sound insecure. Are all humans afraid of the future?
Some more than others. When are you going to start building a nest?
Sparrow: I have to migrate back to my winter home first.
Why don’t you stick around and eat seeds from the meadow and nest here?
Sparrow: Sometimes I wonder about your intelligence.
Well, wouldn’t it be easier and less risky?
Sparrow: First, we need high-protein bugs to raise a family, and second, you have cats!
Well, what if I get rid of the cats?
Sparrow: Like the sumac? You put them in a wagon and cart them off to the woods?
No, I mean eradicate them. For good. This is my property and I can do that.
Sparrow: Is property what makes you kill off other species? Who is the invasive here?
You need to drop that.
Sparrow: No offense, but I think I feel better about traveling a thousand miles than putting my faith in a human.
Up to you.
Sparrow: Yesterday I saw a butterfly. I will be leaving soon.
You know that the bugs will be out earlier up north.
Sparrow: What do you know about bugs?
Humans are changing the climate and making everything warmer.
Sparrow: Why would you do that?
It was a mistake. Some folks knew it would happen, but nobody important listened.
Sparrow: You know I travel several thousand miles each year and if I make a mistake, I die.
I appreciate that.
Sparrow: I am not sure. Have people died from that mistake?
More of us will each year.
Sparrow: Then shouldn’t you be eating the sumac?
You mean if we don’t have bread, let us eat sumac?
Sparrow: Frankly, I don’t’ care. What are you going to do about the caterpillars?
Sparrow: The ones that won’t be there when I need to feed my family.
Sorry about the caterpillars. Some of us are planting gardens but that won’t help much.
Sparrow: You seem helpless.
It is hopeless. I am never going to harvest all these sumac seeds before my back breaks in two.
Sparrow: You are a true tragedy. You made a big mistake and now you are killing yourself with a foolish task.
You are right. It is disheartening.
Sparrow: And you are afraid of the future so you maintain a huge nest instead of singing.
Maybe I am wasting my life.
Sparrow: I suspect you have a load of guilt from all the mistakes you keep making.
Sparrow: Don’t you have a family to raise?
I am too old for that?
Sparrow: Hmmmmm, then what good are you to your species?
Not much anymore.
Sparrow: You seem depressed. You are not much fun to talk to.
Sometimes I think it would be better to forget about the future and just have fun like you.
Sparrow: Look, I have to go. Maybe by next year, you will straighten out your life.
Have a safe migration. Keep clear of hawks!
Sparrow: Good luck playing god in the meadow! OOO-sweeeet-pibbity-pibbity-pibbity
Dr. Anthony Picardi is a master naturalist living on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He has published over a hundred articles on the software industry and one book on mushrooms, Mushrooms of Virginia’s Eastern Shore: A Photographic Tour, and five short satires in online journals, all featuring a literate carpenter ant as the author. Two were published in The Broadkill Review and three in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.