During a recent school visit in Clinton, MA, I saw the first undeniable sign of spring. As I ate my lunch in the warm sun, I watched a hard-working little house sparrow gathering materials for its nest.
The bird returned again and again to a patch of loose, dry grass where the school lawn met a retaining wall. The picky homemaker hopped up and down a series of cement steps along the wall until it found a few perfect blades. Each time it bent its head to pick up a new piece, I was sure the other pieces would fall out of its beak. But they didn’t. The bird managed to hold onto them all.
After a few minutes, a dozen or so crisscrossing blades stuck out of the sparrow’s beak, like the whiskers on a cat. Then it flew away.
Upon returning, it landed on a wrought iron fence next to the retaining wall and surveyed its surroundings. After a few cheery chirps, the sparrow dropped to the ground and began gathering more grass.