A flock of birds in Komagane

by Stefan Chiarantano, Jan 28, 2006 | Destinations: Japan / Tokyo

On my way to the store yesterday in the late afternoon to do some shopping, I took a short cut through the park. It's a lovely park with a lovely playground for children. It has all the amenities that would amuse children such as a swing, a sandbox, and a place to run and is adorned with several bronze statues. I thought I'd sit awhile and collect my thoughts and soon realized there were no benches to be had except for the ones in the children's area. It suddenly dawned on me that I've noticed an absence of public benches in Japan. Back home, there are park and public benches galore. We have them at bus stops, in civic areas, in bookstores, in shopping malls, and so on. Perhaps, sitting down in public is just a western thing, I thought. So, I continued on.

On my way home later, it was now early evening, I heard these awful screeching sounds coming on and off, and wondered what they were. So, I decided to investigate.

As I got closer to the sounds, the night sky was covered with flocks of sparrows flying here and there. In my broken Japanese, I chatted with some of the residents of the neighborhood as to the goings on. For the past few nights, city officials have been out trying to scare off the thousands of sparrows who have made their home on a tree lined street in front of the civic center and public library buildings. The local residents had complained to city officials that they couldn't get a night's sleep because of the sparrows constant squawking into the wee hours of the night. It reminded me of the flocks of geese back home that have appropriated public parks and lakeside beach areas.

As the evening wore on, the screeching was having less of an effect in scaring off the birds. Fewer and fewer birds took to flight. I figured these birds are smart and are catching on to the rouse and no matter how much scarring off the city officials decide do baring cutting down the trees, these birds are here to stay.

Actually, I heard them a few weeks ago one evening on my walk home. They were in the trees chirping away but many were perched on the electrical wires sitting side by side very politely and in the twilight of the dusk, they looked beautiful.

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