Millard, as its turns out, is no ordinary sparrow.
The baby bird, whose name was chosen by the organization that is building a housing development in Freeport, slides down railings on his tiny bird feet, eats blueberries and worms from the hands of humans, and hops onto people’s shoulders.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland said Millard has become so popular that the new neighborhood of eight homes has adopted him as its mascot.
Birds, it would appear, will play a big part of daily life for the residents of the development, which is rising on a newly named street – Hummingbird Lane. The Habitat for Humanity development is off West Street, near town hall and Freeport’s downtown shopping district.
“We decided to name him Millard, after Habitat for Humanity’s founder Millard Fuller,” Laura Duplissis, Habitat for Humanity’s spokeswoman, said in a press release.
Once it is completed, the Hummingbird Lane development will feature eight homes, each with three bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a full basement and hardwood floors. Two homes have been sold. A third home is finished, with five homes still to be built.
Duplissis said construction workers – most of them volunteers – found the baby sparrow hopping around the construction site on Aug. 15. It had fragments of a shell membrane on its head, leading the volunteers to believe it had recently left its nest.
“He (Millard) stayed on site all day and quickly became friendly with volunteers,” said Chad Mullin, who serves as Habitat’s construction manager. “He would hop from person to person, landing on their shoulders or hands. One volunteer found worms for him to eat, and others fed him scraps of bread.”
Habitat contacted Sparks Ark, an organization in New Gloucester that relocates wildlife and rehabilitates injured animals, seeking advice on what should be done with the sparrow.
David Sparks is the founder of Sparks Ark, which he and his son, Joshua, operate.
“Baby birds as a whole don’t have any fear of people,” Sparks said. “They are known to leave the nest before they can fly.”
Sparks said that if a bird is not injured it’s best to leave the critter alone.
“The parents aren’t usually very far away,” he said.
After being told that the bird was hopping onto people’s arms and hands, Sparks admitted that the bird’s friendly nature “sounds a little unusual.”
He said the danger in feeding Millard is that he might become overly reliant on humans, which could decrease the sparrow’s chances of surviving on its own.
Heidi Randall owns a home in the Hummingbird Lane neighborhood.
She was working outside her home on Sunday and was using a cordless drill when the bird suddenly appeared. It started eating blueberries from her hand.
“On Monday, when I left for work Millard flew over to the front porch and hopped onto the railing. He slid down the railing on his little bird feet like it was a slide and hopped into my hand, up my arm, and onto my shoulder,” Randall said.
Duplissis said that it has become clear that Millard isn’t going anywhere.
“As long as he has human friends to play with and snacks to find, he’ll remain the mascot of Hummingbird Lane,” Duplissis said.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: