This fat English sparrow has been a point of interest for us for about two weeks. He is undoubtedly the fattest sparrow we've ever seen; while he dines on the back patio, it's hard to see if he even has feet.
He's a solitary little soul, for the most part; he spends his day hopping around the garden eating grass seeds (when he's exhausted the birdseed on the patio) and sitting by himself on the fence or in the lemon tree. He's never far from the source of food.
Flying seems to be a major effort for him, though, which isn't surprising considering he's ball-shaped rather than bird shaped. My son-in-law and I watched him take off the other day from the feeding spot on the patio -- he really had to work at getting the altitude he needed to make the top of the fence.
Saturday I got up before sunrise, and in the low light saw the fat little fellow sitting amidst the seed-hulls of the previous day's feeding. He was so still that I thought he was dead. I watched him for while, and by and by he shook himself a little and hopped off to the side to check for any stray seeds that might have fallen into the cracks between the stones.
Is he sick? Or is he just old, and nearing the end of his life? The two are not the same, not really. One is a malady, the other a normal thing. I don't see other sparrows attacking him, so I don't think he's ill, per se, but he is on his own. He doesn't squeak plaintively, calling for company, so I assume he's not in distress.
He reminds me of me, a bit. Like him, I rather prefer not to be in flocks or crowds; I like my food and drink to be near at hand; I'm definitely slowing down. And, I have to admit, like him, I'm starting to look a bit scruffy.
In the Gospel of Luke, it says:
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.
I have to think that God cares about us as much as I worry about this fat sparrow, hoping that he'll reach the end of his birdie days peacefully, or at least with a good purpose. (He does seem a likely candidate for helping the neighborhood hawk feed her children.)
In the mean time, we make sure there is plenty of food out there for him and the white-crowned sparrows preparing for their migration north, and try to pay attention to the little things in life, as God does.
I was able to snap a photo of him as he conversed with another male English sparrow later. Perhaps it's a nephew, or even a son. His unkempt looks contrast with the left-most fellow's sleekness.
"Kid, fly as far and fast as you can -- while you can. And keep this place in mind for the lunch counter when you get old."
He's right. This is definitely the place.