Skip to content



Spring Narcissi

Having had a head ringing like a bell with a seasonal/pressure/space headache has not been fun for the past few days. For some reason, it seems that my super-ability is to detect storms by having woozy migraines. Yay me. That translated into approximately 100% more hot cocoas, 100% less alcohol, and walking around in a body suit made of all my warm clothes because of THE STORM OF DEATH. You get the idea.

Read More →

“The day god feeds all his sparrows”: a delightful Yorkshire phrase given to me by an older neighbour, used by his father for the day of every week that his pension credit came in. Source: David Downing, Cymru.

The Language of Sparrows


The language of sparrows is a language of inflectives. Performative, brash, and soft: A lot of the ‘words’ of Sparrowtongue are really subtle escalations of tone; whether shouted or whispered, the same word can mean different things in different contexts.

Female House Sparrow 2016
Rose Sparrow

chow, chep, chew:  A soft, quick sound, meaning “Hi” “Hello” or “Over here.” Used as a sort of sparrow sonar to indicate to the flock where any individual bird is, or to indicate where food can be found.

churr-chrr-chr!: A warning chatter, meaning “Danger!” “Stay Away!” Used predominantly by the male bull sparrows in their role as look-out. Also used to warn of crows, cats, aerial predators, humans.

tseew, tseew: A whisper-soft whistle used by worried fledgelings and adolescents, particularly to communicate with their mothers.

tsark!: A sharp, screeching call used by bulls fighting others for mating rights, and females when they are disturbed or hassled, knocked from their perch. I think of it as a sound of indignation. “Watch out!”

phee-pip?: Softer than tsark, a louder than chow, chep, or chew. A questioning exclamation, definition unknown at present.

fthudder: A very dramatised wing flutter, used in flaring flights and aerial swerves to warn you to stay away from the food and/or young.


Get the latest posts delivered to your email: