I noticed something strange while at DC’s St. Patrick’s Day parade this weekend. After the third or fourth dancing middle school had passed by, my attention started to wander, and I decided to do something much more stimulating than watch the procession – feed wild animals!
I crumpled up a bag of potato chips that my friend Alyson had brought along, and in seconds we had an audience of a dozen chirping sparrows. And then I saw it – nearly all of the sparrows had a little colored tag around one – or both – of their legs.
We took some pictures. Here are a few of the birds:
The first bird has an orange tag, the second a black and purple tag. The third has two tags: one orange and purple, the other black.
How did the tags get there? I still have no idea. Is it some sort of scientific study? Part of a disease control program? Are the tags just little bits of garbage that have gotten stuck on the birds? I tried to Google my way to an answer but didn’t find anything.
How many sparrows in DC are tagged this way? There must be tens or hundreds of thousands of House Sparrows in DC. If the majority are tagged, like the majority of the (random?) sample that I saw, then someone has been doing quite a lot of work. Readers, let me know if any of you can solve the mystery – I’m dying to know more.