A few months ago, I caught sight of a sparrow sitting on a feeder in my garden in Sydney. Nothing unusual in that, you might think. Those brown sparrows are everywhere. But this one was blue! I grabbed the nearest camera and fired away, although it was not easy to snap it…sparrows aren’t renowned for posing.
I made a few phone calls to the experts. The comments ranged from suggesting that I had seen a blue wren, the bird had fallen in a pot of blue paint, or that I had been busy in Photoshop! Others were totally mystified. I wrote a story for the Daily Mail, which ran it, along with a picture [link here] – and I received calls from ornithologists all around the world seeking more information. Had I seen the sparrow again? Could I find a feather and send it to them so it could be forensically examined? No, I hadn’t seen it again. No, I couldn’t find a feather.
I’ve since learned that a bird watcher on the New South Wales central coast has seen a flock of blue corellas (from the cockatoo family, but without the yellow crown). Suggestions for the phenomenon of my sparrow and the corellas range from the birds cross-breeding with a budgerigar to the birds having ingested food which has altered their pigment. Eating carrots could do this, it was suggested.
So the controversy rages on. If I see the blue sparrow again, I’ll be ready with my camera.