Publisher: Reaktion Books, London
Publication Year: 2012
Page Count: 192
ISBN Number: 978-1-8618-9875-3
Price: £ 9.99
This book explores the lives of sparrows in their global existence (they are the most widespread wild birds in the world). I was surprised to learn they live in the Arctic, in deserts, and in cities from the Far East to the Americas, although in many of these places they have been introduced by man. Some nest in buildings and airports close to humans, while others choose trees or grassy meadows, and some have even been found living in a coal mine. The author is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing, and she uses this knowledge to the full in several chapters. She explores sparrows in art and literature starting with the Gospel of St Matthew, through to poetry and paintings, even mentioning Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.
The ‘Sparrow Wars’ in the USA and China trying to exterminate them (and then re-introduce them to combat insects!) started the debates over invasive species. The book concludes on the investigations into why the House Sparrow is now in danger of decline. If you want to know more about sparrows than scientific ornithological data then this book is ideal. Beautifully illustrated too.
Book reviewed by Pat Beasley
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