> Listen to the sparrow song:
Forty years ago, on the afternoons and evenings of the late summer in the Pati de Tàrrega, there was a mass of sparrows singing from the branches of the banana trees that, with their chatty and shrill sound, offered a unique spectacle of nature and of life.
The poet Josep Carner sang it to us in his “Bestiary”:
Ocell alegre i gosat
de plomatge bru, clapat,
més xerraire cada dia,
jamai poruc ni mesell,
ets dels infants alegria
i lleu recança del vell.
Pel passeig, pels carrerons,
oh tafaner de naixença,
sempre ton goig recomença
i no oblides ni els racons.
Veus la que el teu cor adora?
En aquell moment, és clar!,
seduït ens vol deixar.
I, a penes et veu volar,
la branca d’arbre t’enyora.
Today, the noisy experience of sparrows about to play is no longer the same as it was then. The population of sparrowsin our country, and around the world, has decreased dramatically, with a clear downward trend. In the last ten years, Spain has lost more than 20% of its sparrow population, some 30 million. They have disappeared in London, Brussels or Hamburg, and very few are seen in Paris, Berlin or Prague. (SACRE SEO / Birdlife Spring Common Bird Tracking Program).
The common sparrow is a bird inseparable from humans. When there were no cities, there were no sparrows. The drastic disappearance of sparrows could be another warning from nature about the poor environmental quality of our towns and cities. It is true that invasive species can influence their regression, but they are also negatively affected by the proliferation of indiscriminate treatments of pesticides and herbicides in green areas and in the agricultural environment where humans, absurdly possessed by the will to extinction of biodiversity, we eliminate any remnants of grass or shrubs, the seeds of which are their main source of food.
Another cause of the decline in the sparrow population could be caused by electromagnetic radiation from mobile phone antennas. Scientific studies have shown that radiation can affect insects, DNA and the immune system.
The disappearance of the traditional breeding points of tile roofs, facade holes, rural constructions, etc … also influences their regression. A clear example of this can be found in the Torre del Codina. At the time of its rehabilitation, with the architect Maria Àngels Espar we decided to build an open roof, in which the birds could make their nests in the spaces under the tiles. Adapting the construction to the sparrow’s favorite habitat has proved to be a success.
The roofs of the Torre del Codina are all year round, shelter and breeding ground for hundreds of sparrows chirping, singing and playing on their decks. The common sparrow is the main inhabitant of the Torre del Codina, due to its constant presence throughout the year, as well as the number of specimens that pass through and feed inside and outside the house.
The Sparrow (Passer domesticus) of the passeridae family is a small bird about 15 cm long that can be found all over the world. Its jumping walk is characteristic of its species. It basically feeds on grains and also on the debris that humans leave behind. It has a significant difference between the sexes. The male is much more showy with black spots on the chest and intense brown wings with white stripes. The female is not as showy and is all earthy grayish in color and the breast lighter than that of the male.
In some places in the Catalan language domain, the group of birds and birds has been given the meaning of sparrow. This would be the case of the “Sparrow of St. John” of the Church of Saints John in the city of Valencia, which designates the eagle of the evangelist.
In our language we say that when someone “has a head full of sparrows” or “is stuffed”, it is because he loves or loses his sense of reality. The obscene meaning of the male sparrow is found in popular sayings such as: “The fig, to be good, must have three signs: cracked, dry and eaten by the sparrow.”
We did not want to end this writing without referring to the Guillem Viladot Private Foundation, called “Lo Pardal”. A space dedicated to Visual Poetry and Art that we can visit in the neighboring town of Agramunt: http://www.lopardal.com/lopardal.php
Jaume Ramón Solé.
Credits: Images owned by Jaume Ramon Solé – La Torre del Codina.