I took Benjy and his best friend M-- to McDonald's for lunch today. Ben was in rare form.
Benjy: Hey, look -- a chickadee!
Benjy: Oh, crap, it's a sparrow.
M--: Oh, yeah.
Benjy: They're kinda cute, though. Did you know the first sparrows were introduced in the U.S. in the 1800s, to control the fly population? Then they totally over-reproduced.
M--: *looks bored*
Me: Where did they come from?
Benjy: France. And did you know the sparrow is the only American bird that's not protected from hunting?
M--: Why on earth would anyone hunt a sparrow??
Benjy: They're pests.
M--: Ben's the smart one around here, not me.
Me: Ben's level of knowledge is -- well, pretty wild. But he's not a top-notch hockey player, like you. (M-- ROCKS at hockey.)
Now, sometimes you've got to wonder at the stuff that comes out of Ben's mouth. I dug a piece of paper out of my purse and said, "Benjy, I'm going to write all this down so I can learn more about it." (Thinking: I am totally checking up on you, dude.)
As soon as I got home I looked it all up. And you know what? It was mostly spot on.
Sparrows WERE introduced in the U.S. in the 19th century, possibly to control the bug population (although that did not work).
They DID wildly over-reproduce.
They WERE perceived as pests.
And they are NOT protected by federal or state law.
The only mistake? The English house sparrow hails from England, not France.
Sometimes that kid scares me.