The Sparrow

False Creek May 2015 037

Sparrow statue in False Creek Athletes Village

I stared at the numbers before me, studying and comparing what was there and what wasn’t.

I am fortunate to have an office that has stands of evergreen trees beyond the parking lot of the business park that I work at.

A wall divides our building from the trees.  The wall as been built from giant concrete blocks that resemble pieces of Lego.

Beyond this is a drive way that sees cement and dump trucks traveling its length on a daily basis.

It’s not so bad, believe me.


I cross the 2nd Narrows Bridge daily and my place of work is just on the other side of it.  You can see the industries along the shore line where my office is located.

Along the drive are a row of trees very obviously planted as they are spaced uniformly along its length.  I would say they are relatively young trees, maybe 5-7 years in age.  Behind them are some of the older evergreens that survived being cut down when the business park was being cleared for development in this part of the North Shore.  Still there is a lot of forest that surrounds us which I am so thankful for.

9. Before2. After

Office renovations are under way.  Before the walls went up…you can see the wall that I speak of and my office under construction.

I am blessed to see eagles on a daily basis.  There are a few nesting around here.   We are also a stones throw from the ocean as well, and in fact we are at the mouth of Deep Cove.  A beautiful area.

I will watch as the eagles circle high above in languid grace.  Many of the mature eagles have a wing span of six feet if not more.  I find them mesmerizing and beautiful.

They circle overhead seeking food.  Crows will often gather about and dive bomb toward the eagles trying to dissuade them from their nests where their eggs or chicks are roosting.

Queeens Park April 2015 044

This was taken with my cell phone.  You can see the big guy up in the right hand corner

Crows have a strategy particularly if the eagle is getting too close to their nesting grounds.  Typically there will be at least three crows that position themselves at certain points around their enemy, then take turns diving toward the bird in an effort to divert their attention perhaps?  They never actually make contact, however, and I’ve never really witnessed just one crow pursuing an eagle.

I’ve also watched as seagulls practice these protective tactics as well.

The younger eagles are at times persuaded to look elsewhere, but the older ones are not so easily intimidated.

And watching an eagle dive for food!  Wow!  Quite the sight.

Crows are carnivorous as well.  I wasn’t aware of this fact until about a year ago when I was still working in downtown Vancouver.

I was sitting at my desk, once again pondering sets of numbers before me (pssst…I’m an accountant :))

A sparrow landed on the balcony edge outside my window then hopped down to the deck.


I smiled as I watched the little guy forage for food, leftovers of any kind.

A moment later a crow swooped down grabbing the sparrow in its claws and pecked it violently.

I let out a screech as I was stunned by the violence of the attack.  A moment later the crow flew away with its prize.

It’s a dog eat dog world I suppose.

So as I sat working on this glorious spring morning, from the corner of my eye I caught sight of the sparrow in flight almost as quickly as it hit the glass pane window.  It was a loud and vicious sound that resonated through the office.

We all turned and looked and I rose from my desk and tried to look down from the second floor where my office is located.  I couldn’t see anything so I went downstairs to see if I could find the little fella.

male sparrow

If the bird was in distress I know of places that can help.  I stepped outside and began searching through the manicured shrubs that grace our store front.  I saw the bird then laying on its back, feet pointing skyward.  Its neck had broken immediately then.

I felt the rush of emotion I always experience when I am witness to a death of this type.

I went back upstairs and retrieved a cloth to wrap the bird in then went to the back to dispose of it.

Heat still emanated from the body now coddled in the cloth. At least the little sparrow didn’t suffer.

And as the day progressed I managed to grind through yet another day with small victories along the way.

From time to time I thought of the sparrow.

When I had gently picked up the bird, the eyes seemed to have an element of surprise expressed in them.

Had this little guy uttered a fowl expletive when he realized the error in his flight path.  How long had this little one graced the skies?  Then I wondered what their life expectancy is.  Later I discovered that they can live for up to 23 years in captivity but out in the wilds it is typically 2-5 years.  The average being 3 years.


And that evening as I stepped up to the microphone to present my first book launch I thought briefly about the little bird who’d died so suddenly.

Later that evening, having made the decision to stay up and watch David Letterman’s final show, I thought about the cycle of life.

And at 1:00 AM when I finally slipped into bed, just before sleep claimed me, I wondered if that little bird had a companion or community that would miss him.

And as those tendrils of sleep claimed me, I was reminded yet again of the fragility of life.

In My Own Write The Beauty of Fragility