Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spatzie Follow-up

Debbie Dreshler’s comment on my calling my Spatzie an English Sparrow sent me diving into my books. … and rather dates me. I’m vindicated in that the book, Audubon Bird Guide to Eastern Land Birds by Richard Pough, signed by Pough and inscribed to me by my ornithologist parents, Frederick and Frances Hamerstrom, in 1953 only refers to my Spatzies as English Sparrows. After all, that is where they probably came from! According to Wickipedia 50 pairs were released in New York’s Central Park around 1852.

Even my 1947 Peterson guide calls them by both names. I probably didn’t ask him about it when I went on a bird hike with him to see Kirkland warblers a year or two after my edition of his book was published. I was about six years old at the time.
In all honesty I must admit it has been over 50 years since English Sparrow has been the preferred name (in my books), so I should switch to House Sparrow. What a ho hum name for such a ball of energy!

As for ‘Spatzie,’ I probably got that term from my parents too, since they seldom acknowledged any bird smaller than a robin, but were experts on grouse and raptors. I did find ‘Spatzie’ used as a collquial name in the literature.

Bird experts switching names have long been an unnecessary complication in my life! I’ll always think of them as Spatzies in my heart, but maybe I’ll grow up and start calling them House Sparrows when I want someone to know what I’m talking about. Some recent books don’t even mention English Sparrows. It is a good thing that when I'm part of the Audubon Christmas count I only have to write in numbers, not the names of the birds.

1 comment:

  1. Hello - came across your site looking up "Spatzie." My Grandpa used to call them that, too - he lived in Illinois and was born in 1913. I *thought* they were sparrows, but wasn't sure. Thanks for helping me clear this up. :)