Responses of readers

Kathleen Sheridan from The Hague (The Netherlands) writes (08/02/2001):

Dear Guus,
After seeing an item on the BBC about the decline in house sparrows a couple of months ago, I started looking for them more carefully here. I live in Den Haag and have noticed a significant difference in what I remembered of house-sparrow populations. I used to have an active flock in my back garden. I have food out almost all year, and I know that sparrows actively fed there and competed with the tits for food. Now there are no sparrows in my back garden. There are still tits, which I hear but haven't seen at the feeder. There are also magpies, pigeons, black birds, and my usual winter visitor--a little robin. There is also a pair of jays but they tend to be shy. I haven't seen them recently but I've noticed that the mesh holding the food is torn--usually a sign that they have been at it. In the front garden, there are very few birds. I've recently seen the magpies, but I had to take in a feeder with peanuts last month because no one had been eating them and they had gotten moldy. There used to be sparrows in front. Traveling through the Centrum on the tram, I've tried to look for sparrows and have seen none. There used to be a lot in the areas where the pigeons are, but I haven't seen any. And in fact, there seem to be fewer pigeons, although I can't say whether that's because there just weren't many out when I was looking or whether there really are fewer. The only place I've seen sparrows recently is a few blocks from my house. I saw a small flock of them. Are the bird populations in general declining or is it just the sparrows? This seems to be a serious problem and one we need to keep tabs on. But my question is, why haven't we seen lots of little dead sparrows around? It would seem that the dead ones would show up somewhere, wouldn't they?

Dr. Jevgeni Shergalin from Estonia writes:

Annotated and unannotated bibliographies (for period from 1656 till now), reviews and translations from Russian, Byelorussain, Ukrainian and Estonian into English, and xero-copies of original papers on any or all species of Sparrows inhabiting the former Soviet Union's territory.
For a modest fee: apply to Dr.J.Shergalin, Sopruse pst. 175-58, 13413 Tallinn Estonia.
Tel: (3725) 090684; Fax: (3726) 599351;

Created on ... September 12, 2000
Revised on ... February 11, 2001