…so your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep

Posted January 30th, 2011 by kcorliss. Comment (0).

That was attributed to one of the English poets of the Romantic Age, William Blake. But it introduces a subject about which we’ve spoken previously in this space. Just where do birds roost around here in winter?

At my place at least, come 4 P.M., it’s nearly as if someone rings a bell and tells all the birds to go home. But where do they spend the long cold nights?

Certainly, some are in my junipers, since I’ve had the occasion to stir them in the middle of the night. Surely there are other places of which we are unaware.

Sandy A. was kind enough to allow me the honor of displaying this photograph. It’s a house sparrow. A very very dark house sparrow. Is it pigment? Is this bird hypermelanistic? Maybe it’s just me but I don’t think so. I think this bird (I’ve seen similar individuals at my place) has spent the night in some cozy warm but sooty environment, say, a wood-burning stove exhaust pipe. There’s just little else which would account for the overall taint of darkness which includes its soft parts (legs and even beak smudging).

Whatever dirty manifold this bird is roosting in, it appears he’s in no hurry to exit it, given the amount of dark coverage. When we aren’t supposed to be above zero degrees for the next three days, he’ll gladly trade some loss of dignity for warmth.

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