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Story of a sparrow!

Dennis Fenter's Story of a sparrow

Sparrows are declining in numbers globally, and this is primarily due to habitat loss and degradation caused by human activities. Urbanization, agricultural intensification, and pesticide use have all contributed to the loss of suitable nesting sites and food sources for sparrows.

To help protect sparrows, individuals and communities can take various actions, including planting native trees and shrubs, reducing pesticide use, providing nest boxes, and creating wildlife-friendly gardens. Local and national governments can also help by implementing conservation programs, protecting habitats, and regulating pesticide use.

It is crucial to raise awareness about the decline of sparrows and the threats they face to encourage collective action to protect them. Sparrow Awareness Day provides an opportunity for people to learn more about these tiny birds and take steps to help conserve their populations.

Our Founder, Dennis Fenter, started caring for wildlife over 50 years because of a sparrow he rescued from his garden pond. And from that tiny bird Brent Lodge grew.

Young Dennis Fenter with one of the birds he cared for

Here is his story, in his words, about the rescue from his memoirs:

There, sitting shivering on a water lily leaf was a young, partially fledged sparrow. How it got there was a mystery. It was too young to have flown, really too young to be out of the nest. We picked it up, took it inside and using toilet tissue dried it as best we could. A hot water bottle was placed at the bottom of a cardboard soap box, covered with newspaper and the bird placed on this gentle warmth to finish the drying and warming up process. Some chopped hard-boiled egg was put near and also some water and much to our relief he pecked at this fairly soon afterwards. Little did we realise how lucky we were to get a youngster feeding so easily. Within a day he seemed quite at home in the small cage into which he went when quite warm and dry.

He ate well and prospered, and Bonnie, our dog, sat below and tried her hardest to think of a way of turning him into her next meal. A few days had passed and it was time he had his freedom. So his freedom we gave him in what, in retrospect, was probably the silliest thing we ever did, though well-meant at the time. We took him to the top of Ditchling Beacon, well away from cats, and just let him go. He flew straight off into a bush, and we returned home. I said it was a silly thing to do - so it was. He had spent some weeks in a cage mollycoddled, fed, in a warm room, with no experience of how to cope with finding food and living. I hope he lived, though the odds were stacked against him.

Nowadays once a stray or fledgling is ready for release from its cage it must go into an outside aviary with food available on the ground first. If necessary, it is still offered food by hand, but less than before and within hours it discovers food on the floor and learns to scavenge for itself. When we are sure it is well orientated in the aviary and is feeding itself the door is left open, this is called soft releasing. Often after flying out into the garden birds return to the aviary for food and shelter, and sometimes is days before it finally breaks with us and makes a home for itself.

By Asha Park

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