When sparrows go bad

by Bill Ralston / 17 January, 2013
Sparrows may be small, but they can be savage.
Seagull cartoon by Steve Bolton
A dog chasing a seagull is like a human buying a Lotto ticket. You know you haven’t got a chance, but somehow you just can’t resist /cartoon by Steve Bolton.

The Attack of the Killer Sparrow. It sounds like the title of a splatter movie, but it happened to me and, may I say, I got bugger-all sympathy after suffering this trauma.

It began on a hot summer’s morning recently when I was sitting on the deck, wearing a rather fetching panama hat and reading an ancient dog-eared Wilbur Smith novel I’d found on the bach’s bookshelf. The scene was idyllic.

Waves were rolling gently onto the golden sand beach in front of me, there was the cheering sound of happy children splashing in the nearby lagoon and the temperature was just cresting a slow-cooking 30ºC.

As I turned the page to discover whether the hero would be impaled on assegai hurled by an enraged Matabele warrior, a streak of grey flashed past at eye level in my peripheral vision. There was a “thunk” on the glazed french door behind me and suddenly I could see nothing but a grey flapping blur in front my face, which was being scratched and battered by wings and tiny clawed feet.

I worked out later that a sparrow had taken a bad trajectory that meant it flew into the glass, ricocheted back over my shoulder and became trapped between Wilbur Smith and the wide brim of my hat. At the time, engrossed in the book, I had a bad moment thinking Mandingo or whatever his name is was about to spit-roast me out on the veldt. Realising my error, I calmly stood and ushered the bird away.

“You screamed like a girl,” suggested a mate who was lying, reading, nearby.

“Did not.”

“It was a high school-girlish shriek,” he maintained, giving a piercing rendition of his version of how the event sounded, accompanied by a strange whirling-dervish dance with flailing arms and hopping legs. There was no solicitude from anyone present.

“Sparrow Boy!”

“The attack of the killer sparrow! Watch out, a fantail might get you next!”

“For God’s sake!” said a neighbour. “Don’t tell anyone it was a sparrow. Say it was an albatross at least!”

It was, it seemed, an issue of scale. Had I been attacked by an albatross or, indeed, a pit bull terrier or shark, I would have been accorded some sympathy. Sparrow attacks merit nothing but mirth and derision.

It was the same the day before when a seagull crapped on me and Wilbur Smith. Great hilarity all round. Had it been something larger defecating on me, like a cow or a passing Mongrel Mob member, I would have got sympathy. Come to think of it, had the situation been reversed and I’d somehow managed to sneak up behind the seagull and taken a dump on it, I would have been reviled and sent to Coventry. It’s fine for the seagull to do it, but not for me. That is a double standard, I would have thought.

Animals tend to dislike me. Years ago while travelling in dear old Wilbur country, I emerged from a game-park lodge to find a troop of baboons hooting and hollering their hostile contempt at me from the roof. Many aimed their disgusting bottoms in my direction, some spat and at least one tried to pee on me. Totally inappropriate behaviour, I would have thought, even for wild animals.

When I think back on it, although a variety of beasts have had a go at me, it’s the birds that are the worst. Over the years I have been attacked by various magpies, geese, chooks, turkeys, a duck and now that damned sparrow.

Their common aggression is clear proof of the generally accepted theory that they are descended from dinosaurs. In the case of the sparrow, don’t be fooled by its small size. I suggest its ancestor was a particularly nasty breed of pterodactyl.
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


Zimbabwean self-confessed murderer tried to stay in NZ
71936 2017-05-01 06:41:25Z Currently

Zimbabwean self-confessed murderer tried to stay i…

by Jane Patterson

A former member of Robert Mugabe's secret police who admitted to rape, murder and torture has left NZ after he was denied a work visa.

Read more
Labour to release party list
71929 2017-05-01 06:24:33Z Currently

Labour to release party list

by Mei Heron

The Labour Party will release its party list today, with one casualty already confirmed - MP Sue Moroney has announced she will stand down.

Read more
Please don't mention Trump or our economic success
71892 2017-05-01 00:00:00Z Politics

Please don't mention Trump or our economic success…

by Graham Adams

It's election year — watch out for dog-whistles and half-truths.

Read more
Sir Douglas Myers: 1938-2017
71921 2017-05-01 00:00:00Z Profiles

Sir Douglas Myers: 1938-2017

by Pattrick Smellie

One of our most successful and controversial businessmen was a passionate advocate for New Zealand.

Read more
Podcast: New films Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Raw, Get Out
71959 2017-05-01 00:00:00Z Podcasts

Podcast: New films Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, …

by Noted

In this latest episode of the Screening Room, film critics James Robins and Darren Bevan pontificate and peruse the latest cinema releases.

Read more
Deborah Lipstadt: A matter of fact
71867 2017-04-30 00:00:00Z Profiles

Deborah Lipstadt: A matter of fact

by James Robins

When academic Deborah Lipstadt called self-styled historian David Irving a bigot who had falsified and distorted documents, he sued. Big mistake.

Read more
Why this Aucklander loves Takapuna and Devonport
71813 2017-04-30 00:00:00Z Where to go in Auckland

Why this Aucklander loves Takapuna and Devonport

by Paperboy

Auckland foodie Rebecca Jones makes the most of Takapuna’s market and Devonport’s lovely library.

Read more
Keeping it real: What part does humanity play in virtual reality?
71678 2017-04-30 00:00:00Z Technology

Keeping it real: What part does humanity play in v…

by Peter Griffin

As virtual- and augmented-reality apps swamp us, developers are urged to remember humanity.

Read more