Note: After many comments and research, it has been determined that the bird in question was not actually a sparrow, but a female finch, which is also considered a good omen.
The most appropriate bird flew onto the podium at Bernie Sanders’ Portland, Oregon. During the rally at Moda Stadium, the audience noticed a bird on the ground near his podium and were pointing to it excitedly. A few seconds later, the bird quickly flitted onto his podium, surprising him and causing the audience to cheer wildly.
Sanders stayed silent, smiling and gesturing jokingly at the bird. As he lifted his hand to speak, the bird flitted off and Sanders waved as it flew away. Taking advantage of the obvious symbolism, Bernie told the crowd what he thought.
“I think…I think there may be some symbolism here. I know it doesn’t look like it, but that bird is actually a dove asking us for world peace. No more war!”
The Willamette Weekly reports that the Audubon Society of Portland conservation director Bob Sallinger identified the little avian as a house finch. From its coloring, however, it could also be a female sparrow.
But what’s really the symbolism of the sparrow? For those with spiritual leanings, could it be a sign from a higher power? A quick look makes it clear that it could not have been a more appropriate type of bird than a sparrow.
GodWeb, a site dedicated to breaking the Christian Bible into understandable pieces, has this to say about the sparrow.
“…or the sparrow that signifies God’s concern for the most insignificant living things.”
Spirit Walk Ministry, an organization dedicated to inclusive spirituality, describes the symbolism of the sparrow.
“A common visitor, a love of old buildings, the triumph of common nobility, symbol of peasants and the common people. If a Sparrow totem has entered your life, ask yourself if you know your own self-worth. The sparrow will show you that even a common little bird can triumph.”
Another interesting interpretation is a blog from 2007 from Symbolic Meanings Blog by Avia Venfica.
“All too often we take the sparrow for granted — small though she may be, she is certainly powerful … She reminds us we do not have to have the big stuff … to be important, and we do not have to have the loudest voice in order to be heard.”
She then notes that the symbolic meaning of the sparrow includes creativity, simplicity, joy, protection, friendliness, community, and productivity.
“Sparrows derive power from their numbers.”
In other words, the sparrow is a communal bird that works for the benefit of its group. Sound familiar?
SunSigns.org describes the sparrow totem as a symbol of protection and communal involvement to “achieve their power through strength in numbers.”
In ancient Greece, the sparrow was Aphrodite’s sacred bird. It symbolized true love and spiritual connection. In ancient Egypt, sparrows were believed to catch and carry the souls of the recently deceased into the spirit world. Because of this, Egyptian sailors often got sparrow tattoos in case they died at sea to make it easier for a sparrow to find their soul.
Even in Japan, sparrows have their own myth. “Tongue-Cut Sparrow” is the tale of an old, impoverished man who is rewarded for his kindness by a sparrow whose tongue was cut by the man’s awful wife for eating rice paste. Again, the theme is the same: the sparrow represents family, humility, generosity, and happiness with everyday things. It represents happiness above wealth. The moral of the story goes that humility is rewarded. Jealousy is punished.
These things make Bernie Sanders’ little sparrow all the more symbolically significant. His platform emphasizes strength in numbers, people coming together to create change, shunning of extravagant wealth, and an acceptance of everyone, regardless of social status.
Sanders’ speech at Moda Center drew a crowd of nearly 20,000. He reiterated his standard rallying cry of single payer health care, his opposition to the Iraq war, paid family leave, increasing the minimum wage, demilitarizing the police, and general respect of people, regardless of who they are or what they believe in.
According to The Guardian, Gary Johnston attended two Bernie Sanders rallies this week.
“He’s what you might call anti flip-flop.”
The 71-year-old retired millworker criticized Hillary Clinton’s mercurial platform and pooh-poohed the notion that Sanders is a one-issue candidate. He believes that Sanders’ consistency is what the United States needs, not someone who will put their finger in the wind before deciding on what issues are important.
On Reddit’s r/SandersForPresident, the top comment said what everyone else was thinking.
“Bernie’s a Disney princess?”
Another user called him “Sanderella.” A flurry of new memes, tweets and artwork depicting Bernie as a sparrow or with birds soon followed.
Someone on Twitter even created @BerdieSanders, which recreates many of Sanders’ talking points from an avian perspective.
Now, if Johnny Depp would show up to one of Bernie Sanders’ events dressed as Jack Sparrow, that would be the icing on the cake.
[Photo: Steve Dykes/AP]