I saw them first; explosions of purple and yellow and white. Vibrant green primroses were nestled on winter weathered lawns and as I paused to watch I sighed, encouraged by two continuous days of sunshine: “spring really must be coming!” It was what I heard, however, that lit up my face. Flitting among the still bare branches of trees, sparrows sang.
Of all the songbirds in the world, sparrows are the most common and the most familiar. Many varieties contain the word “sparrow” in their name but the species include buntings, towhees and juncos; around the world there are dozen of types and more than 50 species in North America alone. There is little in their physical characteristics that draws attention, they’re mostly small and drab brown in colouring. It is their common characteristics, however, that grabbed my attention.
In the spring and summer, most songbirds are rather solitary, found only in pairs or family groups. Come autumn and winter, they form flocks of similar and different sparrow species. Family first, then wings open wide to fellow feathered friends.
These sparrows are no slouches. They forage, feeding primarily on the ground or low in trees or under the cover of shrubs. They’re not afraid to scratch with both feet for seeds and insects hidden under leaf litter. Not only that, they’re swift in flight and wary of danger. Above all, there are millions of them and they sing.
In speaking to his disciples who were concerned about their own safety, Jesus reminded them that though sparrows, plenteous as they were, held little monetary value, not one falls earthward unnoticed by God.
“… not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. Fear not, then; you are of more value than many sparrows”
It makes me want to join in their song!