Few Americans have heard of Nicholas Pike, even though the result of his work is visible in almost every yard throughout the world.

In 1852 Pike traveled to England for the Brooklyn Institute, purchased sparrows and had them shipped back to New York City. Fifty were released near the Narrows and they soon multiplied to become one of the most numerous birds in North America. They were later introduced to Australia and are common where people live all over the world.

English Sparrows thrive near people. They are at home from the gritty pavement of big cities to the barnyards of most farms. English sparrows live around people and can be found at nearly every bird feeder. They love to dine on pizza crusts and other food debris left in city parks. About the only place they don’t do well is in large prairies and big woodlands where people haven’t modified the land.

Although sparrows are amazingly numerous today, in the late 1800’s they were even more common. Before the advent of cars, cities and towns were crowded with work horses. Sparrows found an abundant food source picking grain from manure and feed hoppers. When autos replaced horses this food source disappeared and sparrow densities dropped.

Many bird lovers hate sparrows for good reason. Messy and noisy, they crowd out native birds and aren’t very colorful. But like most humans they are prolific immigrants from abroad that found a home here and prospered.