On Sparrows and Man
As a result of the sparrows association with man it has become the most sucessful alien avian colonist but recently is in serious deline in urban areas in northwest Europe. The author speculates on the possible reasons underlying the decline. Although we do not know the cause it is almost certain we are in some way responsible. This book is not only for birdwatchers, but also for anyone interested in our natural environment.
Dennis Summers-Smith is well known as the man who knows about sparrows. He started to study the House Sparrow in his garden in 1947 and gradually extended his knowledge to include all the members of the family Passeridae.
This small book, his fifth 'sparrow book' is lighter than the more serious studies previously published and is an easy read. However, the scientific facts are there, enhanced by a fascinating account of how the humble sparrow, now found in almost every part of the world, has found its way into the day to day life of man. As a neighbour, sharing our homes and our food, as a pest, as a subject of art, as a pet, a laboratory animal and still, sadly, as a source of food.
We are grateful to those friends of Summers-Smith who encouraged him to publish this entertaining account which he initially wrote for his own amusement. Illustrated in colour with quotations from poetry and prose this book will appeal to all who are familiar with these little birds that live close to man. For those who worry about the decline of the House Sparrow in Britain Summers-Smith considers the problem but is, as yet, unable to give a clear answer to the problem.
Colin Wright July 2006