Photo by Mark Seth Lender
Man's life is like a Sparrow, mighty King!
That--while at banquet with your Chiefs you sit
Housed near a blazing fire--is seen to flit
Safe from the wintry tempest. Fluttering,
Here did it enter; there, on hasty wing,
Flies out, and passes on from cold to cold;
But whence it came we know not, nor behold
Whither it goes. Even such, that transient Thing,
The human Soul; not utterly unknown
While in the Body lodged, her warm abode;
But from what world She came, what woe or weal
On her departure waits, no tongue hath shown;
This mystery if the Stranger can reveal,
His be a welcome cordially bestowed!
—William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Song Sparrow is not that much to look at, but he is wonderful to hear. His melody is a seasonal familiar of almost every latitude below the tundra, from Maine to the Aleutians. Song Sparrows have the usual enemies – cats, squirrels, snakes and all the birds of prey. The one shown here, alert, rain-ruffled, has to keep a lookout against them all but he had nothing to fear from me: The lush green thicket where he's perched? Solid Poison Ivy.