Sparrow (suzume)

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Sparrow (suzume)

***** Location: Japan, worldwide
***** Season: various, see below.
***** Category: animal


sparrow, suzume 雀 (すずめ)
"voice of the sparrow", sparrows chirping, suzume no koe 雀の声

The word sparrow, if not specified further, refers to the common bird which is with us all year round and is thus not a kigo but a non-seasonal topic.
There are however some kigo related to the sparrow, which we will explore below.

House sparrow, Passer domesticus

Male House Sparrows are easily recognised by their grey crowns and variably-sized black bibs but females might be more difficult. However, nearly all the other dull brown birds with thick, conical bills have streaked rather than plain underparts. Even the otherwise similar Spanish Sparrow is faintly streaked below. Pale Rock Sparrows and Yellow-throated Sparrows are unstreaked below but they also have plain upperparts, quite unlike a House Sparrow.
The only remaining problem species is the Dead Sea Sparrow which looks very similar but is smaller and neater.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !



kigo for mid-spring

harami suzume 孕み雀 (はらみすずめ) pregnant sparrow
..... komochi suzume 子持雀(こもちすずめ)
haramidori 孕鳥(はらみどり)pregnant bird
..... komochidori 子持鳥(こもちどり)

. はらみ餅 harami Mochi rice cake amulets .

kigo for late spring

baby sparrows, little sparrows, suzume no ko 雀の子
suzumeko 雀子(すずめこ)
kosuzume 、小雀(こすずめ)
suzume no hina 雀の雛(すずめのひな)

kisuzume, ki suzume 黄雀(きすずめ)"yellow sparrow"
koojaku こうじゃく【黄雀】, oojaku
The beak of the small bird is still yellow inside.

oya suzume 親雀(おやすずめ)sparrow parents

haru no suzume春の雀(はるのすずめ)sparrow in spring


nest of a sparrow, suzume no su 雀の巣
kigo for all spring



reed warbler : yoshi suzume 葭雀
reed-plain warbler : yoshihara suzume 葭原雀
bull-rush-plain warbler : ashihara suzume 葦原雀

The above three are variations of the "reed cutter warbler", yoshikiri 葭切, Acrocephalus species.

More kigo about the reed warbler !


suzume no tago 雀の担桶 (すずめのたご) sparrow eggs
..... suzume no shooben tago 雀の小便担桶(すずめのしょうべんたご)
suzume no tango 雀のたんご(すずめのたんご)
suzume no tamago 雀の卵(すずめのたまご)
suzume no tago 雀の田子



sparrows in the rice fields,
"rice sparrows" inasuzume 稲雀

Refers to sparrows who have come to autumn rice-fields to glean loose grains from the ground, or pluck them from the plants before harvest.




kansuzume, kan suzume 寒雀 (かんすずめ)
sparrow in the cold

kogoesuzume 晩冬 凍雀(こごえすずめ)freezing sparrow
fukurasuzume ふくら雀(ふくらすずめ) "inflated" sparrow, plump sparrwo
puffed up the feathers to keep warm

. Plump sparrow and Daruma .
Folk Toys of Japan



first sparrow : hatsu suzume 初雀
To see a sparrow on the first day of the New Year is quite auspicious. It makes you feel cheerful and happy.

hatsu suzume hane o hirogete ori ni keri

first sparrow -
he opens his wings
and comes down  

Kijoo 鬼城 (Tr. Gabi Greve)

Have a look here !


A Problem

In the "Haiku Handbook" by Higginson, sparrow is listed as a spring kigo.
But that seems a misunderstanding.

The haiku in question quoted on page 29 reads in the last line
sparrows' voices (susume no koe), which is most probably a mistaken translation or misprint for the kigo "baby sparrows (susume no ko)", a spring kigo indeed.
"susume no koe", with six beats, is not suitable for the last line of a haiku, which has 5 beats in Japanese.

In the haiku quoted on page 108, the kigo is
atatakasa, warmness, for spring,
and suzume, the sparrow is not the kigo here at all, but a non-seasonal topic.

In the "Haiku World", Higginson quotes the sparrow as an all year non-seasonal topic.

Voices of Animals -
With the full quote of the haiku in question

Read a comment by Bill Higginson about the SPARROW as kigo, with resprect to the above problem.
September 2006

Worldwide use

Sparrows in New Zealand
They seem to prefer the company of Homo sapiens and have moved along with us as we have developed, built shelters and cultivated crops, something which their scientific name, Passer domesticus, reveals. Sparrow, their common name, is much the same in every European language, being variations of the old Teutonic sparwa, from sper … to quiver.

Read a lot more information:



Some links in Spanish about GORRIÓN

© Juan Pedro Paz-Soldán




Things found on the way

. March 20th - World Sparrow Day .
Mobile phones blamed for sparrow deaths

So this day is also NO CELLPHONE DAY


Some sparrow haiku from Issa

suzumego ga naka de naku nari kome fukube

the baby sparrow
chirps inside
the rice gourd


Issa is quite famous for his many haiku about Sparrows.
David Lanoue lists 127 in his Issa Archives.

Basho-ki ya hato mo suzume mo kyaku mekasu

Basho's Death-Day--
pigeons and sparrows
in their Sunday best

Haiga by Sakuo Nakamura


viento estival
los pequeños gorriones
luchan y luchan

summer wind -
the little sparrows
struggle on

Russian translation:

летний ветер --
борются с ним

Haiga by Origa (Olga Hooper)

Carlos' Haiku won the first prize of the Second Calico Cat bilingual haiku contest of Origa.

.. .. ..

duro papeleo
afuera persiguiendose

> > > hard paperwork -
> > > outside chasing one another
> > > sparrows

dark clouds --
the little sparrow
urges his flight

Carlos Fleitas from Uruguay tells us this:

Sparrows are very common here. You can find them everywhere. Some people dislike them, and find them annoying. Sometimes if you have a window opened they may even enter your house! It has never happened to me, although i can see them everyday...


park bench
an old man shares his lunch
with some sparrows

Max Verhart


How soon they're gone -
the bread crumbs and the sparrows
that I began to sketch

(Cicada, v.3, #4)

Hard frost -
a sparrow in my son's
cupped hands

(World Haiku Review, October, 2003)

Frosty day -
finches at the feeder
let a sparrow in

Zhanna P. Rader

Read more of Zhanna's Sparrow Haiku here:


young camel foot tree --
first sparrow has found
its nesting site

This bauhinia grows in my pocket-handkerchief-sized front garden, where I planted the seed from a neighbour's garden some years back.
This morning, looking out of my window with pleasure, I found a sparrow sitting on one of its branches, nest-building material in beak, checking the place out. Surely, it must be the coming-of-age of a tree if it is big enough to be considered by a bird for a nest!

Isabelle Prondzynski, Kenya

Camel's foot tree, Bauhinia purpurea
CLICK for more photos


beside the sparrow
only the fragrance
of a lilac blossom

- Shared by Sandi Pray -
Joys of Japan, 2012


On the thorny branch
A sparrow sits ~ not thinking
Of migration

- Shared by Res John Burman -
Joys of Japan, 2012

Related words

***** Reed warbler (yoshi suzume, gyoogyooshi)

The BIRD Saijiki with all kigo !


suzumegakure 雀隠れ (すずめがくれ) "enough to hide a sparrow"
when plants are just beginning to grow

muresuzume 群雀 (むれすずめ) Caragana sinica
lit. "a flock of sparrows"

. Plants in Spring .





Anonymous said...

on the roof
a playful clickety-click
the sparrows

on the scrapheap
the chirp of sparrows
seeking for forage

You know the French singer Edith Piaf?
Piaf means: moineau = sparrow.

Geert Verbeke

Gabi Greve said...

irozato no/asane no noki no/kan-suzume

the gay quarters...
sleeping in the morning,
winter sparrows at the eaves

Sojo Hino (1901-56), by Susumu Takiguchi


Anonymous said...

angry cat –
November frost drive away
sparrows from the fence

hopping sparrows –
pieces of bread
in the frozen pond

quarrel of sparrows –
one cone falls into the moss
completely quiet

noon heat –
all holes in the fence
filled with sparrows

winter morning noise -
a long line of sparrows
on the wire

Jasminka Nadaskic Diordievic

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho

inasuzume cha no kibatake ya nigedokoro

sparrows in the rice paddies
the field of tea trees
is your place to flee
Tr. Gabi Greve

Written in the autumn of 1691 元禄4年秋
at 義仲寺 temple Gichu-Ji

This hokku has the cut marker YA at the end of line 2,
but in fact line 1 is separate and lines 2 and 3 belong together.

sparrows in the rice paddies
this field of tea trees -
yes, your place to flee
Tr. Gabi Greve


Gabi Greve - Buson said...

murasuzume 群雀 - 群れをなしているスズメ
a flock of sparrows

Yosa Buson

yuudachi ya kusaba o tsukamu murasuzume

sudden shower -
clinging to blades of grass,
the village-sparrows
Tr. Haldane

An evening shower--
Clutching unto the blades of grass
Village sparrows.
Tr. Nelson/Saito

An evening shower!
Holding onto the bushes,
a flock of sparrows.
Tr. Sawa/ Shiffert


Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Shita-kiri Suzume (舌切り雀 shita-kiri suzume)
"Tongue-Cut Sparrow"
is a traditional Japanese fable telling of a kind old man, his avaricious wife and an injured sparrow. The story explores the effects of greed, friendship and jealousy on the characters.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Tokyo
. Rinshōin 湯島麟祥院 Temple Yushima Rinsho-In .
suzume ikusa 雀戦 fight of the sparrows
In 1832 onf the 6th to 10th day of the 8th lunar month, in the nearby forest of the forest, there lived more than 4000 sparrows.
They started to get in a fierce fight and even eat each other.
more legends to explore !

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Wakayama