Cockney Sparrows Set Up Home

By Hazel Last edited 133 months ago
Cockney Sparrows Set Up Home

While pigeons are getting a bit of stick today, heartwarming news of sparrows getting new homes at London Zoo courtesy of prisoners in Spring Hill prison balances the scale somewhat.

After a long absence, sparrows have come back to London and are being housed in ten brand new bird boxes built by prisoners at Spring Hill prison in Buckinghamshire. The question "Where have all the sparrows gone?" crops up again and again in nostalgia-tinged conversations in pubs and at dinner parties along with "What happened to white dog poo?" "Who misses red squirrels?" and "Do you remember milk in little bottles at school?" The sparrows have reappeared in the Gorilla Kingdom exhibit at London Zoo, making homes in the same enclosure as three western lowland gorillas who have so far posed no threat to the little hopping birds.

The bird boxes will hopefully encourage the sparrows to stay and breed more little 'Cockney sparrows'. Once ubiquitous, they are now rare and in need of all the help we can offer - prisoner built bird boxes being the first crucial step. A new location might be next on the list but the birds will apparently be quite safe with the gorillas:

According to the zoo, Guy, a gorilla who lived at the zoo for more than 30 years from 1947, was famous for picking up sparrows and inspecting them before gently setting them down again.

So we can leave them there for now. It's rather a shame because we were imagining how great gorilla force would be for pigeon extermination if the Harris hawks are abducted by the PAG. Imagine a fully grown gorilla swiping King Kong style at the pesky pigeons from halfway up Nelson's Column! On hearing what a softie Guy turned out to be, all those dreams turn to dust. Back to building the bird boxes then...

Image by Julianne Savage on Flickr, courtesy of the Creative Commons licence.

Last Updated 18 December 2007