FAYETTEVILLE, AR—Following the release of a documentary that tracks the Italian sparrow’s migration in never-before-seen detail, nature filmmaker David Leonne came under fire Wednesday for allegedly staging a scene in which a bird is seen using a tiny fork to twirl up a worm as if it were spaghetti. “While we still have much to learn about the Italian sparrow’s predatory habits, the shot in which a bird sits down to a plate of worms, winds one around a utensil, and brings it to his beak seems likely to have been fabricated,” said Francis Graydon, a professor of ornithology at the University of Arkansas, expressing doubts that the production crew had “simply stumbled upon” this exceedingly rare feeding behavior and suggesting the bird’s environment may have been tampered with in some way. “After viewing Leonne’s film, I grew suspicious about the time of year he claims to have encountered the specimen in a deciduous forest, the ease with which the sparrow was able to hold silverware in its wings, and the steaming platters of earthworms and insect larvae resting upon a small checkered tablecloth. Then I started thinking about the way the bird tucked a leaf into his chest feathers like a bib and raised his little glass of merlot before chirping, ‘Salute!’ That almost never happens in the wild, so the timing just felt a bit too perfect.” The ornithologist also questioned how, with no documented cases of literacy among the species, the Italian sparrow in the documentary managed to effortlessly read his aperitif, antipasto, and entrée choices from a menu printed on a piece of bark.
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