“Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque,
et quantum est hominum venustiorum:
passer mortuus est meae puellae-
passer, deliciae meae puellae,
quem plus illa oculis suis amabat.”
Mourn, O Venuses and Cupids,
and whatever there is of pleasing me:
the sparrow of my girl is dead –
the sparrow, the delight of my girl,
whom she loved more than her own eyes.
Catullus, Carmen 3
As evidenced by this brief passage from the funeral dirge of the first century (BC) Roman poet Catullus, the sparrow has been a subject of art and admiration (even tongue-in-cheek adoration) for thousands of years. I found this golden crowned sparrow perched in the chaparral along the path towards Whaler’s Cove in Point Lobos State Nature Reserve, Carmel, California. I thought it was a lovely photograph of a beautifully marked bird, but upon closer inspection of the photograph as I was processing the photos at the end of the day, I noticed the rather doleful look on the sparrow. For an animal that flits about, seemingly without care, this look struck me as rather queer. Perhaps, like Catullus, I am importing more meaning to the life of a sparrow than reason would suggest appropriate. Still, this remains my favorite photograph of the many sparrows I have photographed over the course of the last fifteen years or so.
Click here for a larger version (and a black and white version).