I’ve been calling all birds of a certain size “sparrow”. But I started second-guessing myself recently. I can pick out several different species among the fluttering masses, and I doubted whether sparrow was broad enough to be used with all of them. So I just looked the word up. The definition is, “Any of various small brownish or grayish New World finches.” (By the way, I found the use of the term “New World” there to be fairly satisfying for some reason.) I had to follow that up by making sure there wasn’t a catch hidden away in the word “finch”: “Any of various small birds having a short stout bill.” “Sparrow” seems generic enough to be used liberally with any of the little birds. But, in the future, I think I’m going to go with “finch” instead. “Finch” sounds better. That dictionary is putting ideas in my head.

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  1. If I’m not mistaken, that particular LBJ (little brown job. It’s a birder’s term. ;-) is a House Sparrow. Passer Domesticus. It is not a New World bird, but is native to Eurasia and introduced from there to North and South America, South Africa, and Australia. (info from Peterson’s field guide to western birds)

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