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Even the Sparrow

Every year in the spring my husband Jim and I move from our dining room to sit in our improvised breakfast room on the back porch—a smaller, sunnier, and more intimate setting where we can enjoy a view of our backyard. Though there is much to enjoy in a new spring garden, I have especially enjoyed watching the birds. Among them are noisy blue jays, red-breasted robins, large and aggressive grackles, cooing mourning doves, and even an impressive hawk. The sparrows, this year, though, have been my favorite.

Based on the informative bird cards that I gave Jim for his birthday, and the use of a pair of binoculars to see the birds up close, I think we have house sparrows, the most common and widespread bird in our country. They are small, the female especially drab, and they have a monotonous chirp. They are sociable and like to beg for food in parks and parking lots. I have happily been able to observe the domestic life of some of these common house sparrows, seemingly so appropriately named.

The sparrows lead an active and generally quiet life in our little garden. The previous spring, an enterprising and industrious pair of robins had built a nest atop a small lamp fixture attached to the side of the garage. We left it up to see if another bird would repurpose it, and sure enough, the practical sparrow saw an opportunity to build an upward addition to the nest to suit its needs. It took many days to add on to the nest, and they added so much foraged material that the end result was more like a cave with a very small opening at the top. Jim reminded me of the beautiful verse in Psalm 84: “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God” (v. 3).

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Patricia Kushiner is a retired long-time staff member of the Fellowship of St. James. She and her husband, Jim, have six children and sixteen grandchildren. They attend All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois.

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