[Daily article] January 31: Cape sparrow

The Cape sparrow (Passer melanurus) is a southern African bird. A
medium-sized sparrow at 14–16 centimetres (5.5–6.3 in), it has
distinctive grey, brown, and chestnut plumage, with large pale head
stripes in both sexes. The male has some bold black and white markings
on its head and neck. The species inhabits semi-arid savannah,
cultivated areas, and towns, from the central coast of Angola to eastern
South Africa and Swaziland. Cape sparrows primarily eat seeds, along
with soft plant parts and insects. They typically breed in colonies, and
search for food in large nomadic flocks. The nest can be constructed in
a tree, bush, cavity, or disused nest of another species. A typical
clutch contains three or four eggs, and both parents are involved, from
nest building to feeding the young. The species is common in most of its
range and coexists successfully in urban habitats with two of its
relatives, the native southern grey-headed sparrow and the house
sparrow, an introduced species. The Cape sparrow’s population has not
decreased significantly, and is not seriously threatened by human
activities.

Read more:

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Today’s selected anniversaries:

314:

Sylvester I, during whose pontificate many churches in Rome were
constructed by Emperor Constantine I, began his reign as pope.

1578:

Eighty Years’ War: Spain won a crushing victory in the Battle
of Gembloux, leading to a break up of the United Seventeen Provinces,
leading to a division of the Netherlands in the Union of Arras (Catholic
South) and Union of Utrecht (Protestant North).

1945:

Second World War: The British 3rd Commando Brigade’s victory in
the Battle of Hill 170 was important in causing the 28th Japanese Army
to withdraw from the Arakan peninsula of Burma.

1957:

A Douglas DC-7B operated by Douglas Aircraft collided in mid-
air with a U.S. Air Force F-89 and crashed into a schoolyard in Pacoima,
California.

1999:

Cher sings the “Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXXIII.

2013:

A gas leak underneath the Pemex Executive Tower in Mexico City
caused an explosion (damage pictured) that killed at least 37 people and
injured another 126.

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Wiktionary’s word of the day:

deep state:
(politics, conspiracy theories) A large group of people, typically
members of government agencies and the military, believed to have long-
lasting political influence that is difficult for an administration
voted into power to counter.

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Wikiquote quote of the day:

  We live in a time which has created the art of the absurd. It is
our art. It contains happenings, Pop art, camp, a theater of the absurd
… Do we have the art because the absurd is the patina of waste…? Or
are we face to face with a desperate or most rational effort from the
deepest resources of the unconscious of us all to rescue civilization
from the pit and plague of its bedding?  
–Norman Mailer

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