Littell's Living Age/Volume 139/Issue 1799/Miscellany
Parental Affection in Sparrows. — I saw a touching little incident showing the affection of sparrows for their young on the Kennington Oval cricket-ground last Thursday afternoon, a description of which you may, perhaps, think it worth while to record.
The afternoon was fine and the ground was surrounded by a dense ring of spectators, when a young pale-colored sparrow, under the guidance of both its parents, was trying to acquire the use of its wings. A slight wind was blowing towards the spectators, and the poor little bird, in its weak attempt to fly, was, to the evident consternation of its parents, carried straight into the laps of the inner ring of spectators, one of whom caught it gently in his hand and held it.
When taken hold of the young bird gave two or three chirps or calls for help, and the old birds flew to within a few feet of the ring of spectators, and, alighting on the grass in front of them all, began to "beg" for the young bird in the most touching and beseeching manner. This they did by lowering their heads and making the peculiar flutter of the wings by which young birds beg for food from the old ones. This singularly touching appeal moved the hearts of many in the crowd, who called out, "Look! look at the old birds!" — "Don't hurt the young bird!" — "Give it back to them," etc. The anxiety and the boldness of the old birds and their humble beseeching for the young was so evident as to come home to the hearts of these somewhat rough spectators.
My own feeling certainly was that I could not have believed that a pair of sparrows could possibly have "begged" with such touching humility and tenderness for the safety of the young bird. Their manner clearly displayed their sense of their own want of power to help the object of their affection, they therefore prayed for mercy in their own way, and with so much feeling, as to excite the full sympathy of the crowd looking on, and to make them, for the time, forget the game of cricket they had come there to see. C. R.
Bristol, August 17.