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"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?

Which 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.

Well, yes.

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.

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