Just A Sparrow


You can’t mention sparrows without mentioning Edith Piaf can you? If you mention Edith Piaf then you have to mention La Vie en Rose. The song that everyone remembers her for – from the film that she made that no one can remember, so we won’t embarrass anyone by mentioning it here. She wrote the song herself and it was probably her greatest hit, certainly outside France.  Then there was ‘Sparrow’ written by Paul Simon – as in Simon and Garfunkel. Same bird in the title but a different generation of song writers writing about a different bird to the Parisian street urchin. Sparrows, of course are not to be trusted with lethal weapons – particularly a bow and arrow.

In the 1950s the Chinese government, in an attempt to increase the rice harvest put a price on the sparrow’s head and promoted the killing of the little birds – along with rats, and threw in mosquitoes and flies for good measure. Rats have been persecuted for millennia so they just ignored the whole thing. Flies and mosquitoes felt pretty much the same, but the program virtually wiped out the entire sparrow population within a few years. And did the rice harvest improve? No, actually. The sparrows eat far more of the insects that consider the rice harvest their own than they do of the rice. So the government took sparrows off the list. But it was too late. A few years later, the worst locust swarm for years caused widespread famine.

It isn’t just size that ranks you in the pecking order you know.

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