Sunday, July 24, 2005

Cute Little Invasive Species...

Well, in researching my little sparrow friend I found some information that changes the way I look at our whole project.

I have come across some articles on the web suggesting that it is best to kill house sparrows or at least discourage them from nesting because they kill bluebirds and other native birds. Here is an example of an article that presents this point of veiw:

I wouldn't kill it, but -- from a conservationist's standpoint I can see why they do it. I just couldn't bring myself to do it, personally.

I'm attached to this little bird. Still, now that I have learned this it makes me question why I saved it in the first place, and if I would do it again.

Sometimes people do the wrong things for the right reasons. Just because it seems like a "good deed" and you have good intentions doesn't mean the overall long term consequences will be for the best.

Nature is complex. Humans are complex too. We have this nurturing instinct towards helpless things, but what if I am successful in releasing this bird (who would have died otherwise) and it mates and produces many, many more sparrows over the course of it's life -- And some of them grow up to kill bluebird babies or take over bluebird nests. Have I done a good deed? It's hard to say. I guess I just find it confusing.

The older I get, the more I find situations to be like some Socratic dialogue about the meaning of basic concepts! :-)


Blogger Annieytown said...

You still did a good deed.
There is no doubt in my mind. That little guy's life is just as important as the adorable bluebird. I love survivors and scrappy little things so I am rooting for this guy even if one day he robs a bluebirds nest. Thats me.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Jonniker said...

Nah, Kate, you still did a good deed. You did what you thought was the right thing at the time, and you saved a little birdie's life.

Personally, I'm hoping it stays in your house, in a cage and never leaves. It would just be too cute not to!

5:56 PM  
Blogger Niobium said...

When I moved into my first house there were all these cute little chickadee living in the carport rafters. They made such a huge mess with their poop, but I couldn't exterminate them since it was April and there were all these cute little babies in the nests. I decided to wait until they flew south for the winter, then I would move the nests out and put up chicken wire to prohibit them from nesting once again. But there was a flaw in my plan: they didn't move south. They stayed put all winter.

So the following year, I wrote a letter to the local naturalist and asked him what to do. He said they weren't chickadees, they were English Sparrows, a non-native bird to the US. The only way to get rid of them was to kill them and/or destroy their nests. I just couldn't do it.

As far as I know, they still live in the carport. I knew they were non native, I knew they were killing the native Baltimore Orieles (sp?) in the area, but still, I couldn't destroy their homes (or them).

The moral of my story is I know exactly how you feel.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Tania said...

You see? You worried about the bird imprinting on you, but you've imprinted on the bird.

(When we choose to save a life, we do a strange thing. Our instinct to take in and feed and shelter creatures other than our own species probably accounts for how we have domesticated so many different creatures: how we have cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, horses, and goats.)

If you hadn't saved that bird, it would have died and been eaten by worms, beetles, flies. All over the forest, little baby birds are dropping out of nests and dying on the forest floor, and their little bodies are nourishing the roots of the trees they dropped from. Is that so bad?

(Better than in New York, where flattened baby pigeons just dry out and get swept into the gutter with the rain.)

And yet, could you help what you did? You love little critters! You scooped it out into a different fate. Now you know it's an invasive pest, but you can't kill it. I couldn't kill Jonny Diesel if you paid me, even if I knew he'd grow up to torture mice and chew off the heads of lost pet hamsters. Call us suckers, but that's our weakness. Besides, if there's any invasive, non-native species on this land responsible for reducing native populations, it's us, and I'd hope you wouldn't bash MY head in with a brick. ;)

8:58 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Thank you Tania. I'm laughing here. I love that last line. As always, you help me put things in perspective. :-)

Niobium: They compete with oriels too? Oh Jeez! I love oriels!

9:07 AM  
Blogger LonesomePolecat said...

Nonetheless, if instead of a bird
it was a cutie widdle baby black
widow spider it would have been Squash-o time! Sparrows are non-threatening and likeable to us humans; it's the other woodland birds that see their dark side.

7:27 AM  

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