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A pair of Prairie Falcons are nesting in the tall Elm trees just outside my bedroom window. Sparrows seem to have no fear of the falcons: they perch near the falcon nest, and I have seen them actually land on the nest while the falcons were nesting. They have a relationship that is unique. That is another story and not mine to tell. In 1958 The Chinese government decreed a program called the Great Leap Forward, to modernize China and improve their standard of living. Part of this program was the Four Pests Campaign. The four pests named were rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows. Mao and his fellows encouraged their citizens to wipe out these pests. The sparrows were included in this list because they ate the grain that was meant for the people. The Chinese are an orderly people, and they went to work. Sparrow nests were disturbed, the young were killed, and the flying sparrows were chased and harassed to the point they died of exhaustion. The Chinese government estimated that 1 billion sparrows were killed, 1.5 billion rats, 220 million pounds of fly and 24 million pounds of mosquitoes. The program was a total success, and everyone patted themselves on the back for a job well done, and rightly so. Unfortunately, when the locus came, as locus often do, there were no hungry sparrows to greet them, and the locus decimated the wheat crop. A combination of government sponsored deforestation, misuse of pesticides and flooding as well as drought caused the Great Chinese Famine. Between 15 and 45 million people died because of this famine. At that time China had a Command Economy and the decisions were made by just a few well-meaning government officials. Today, the average Chinese citizen has more of a say in their own lives and with freedom comes prosperity. Today Nature's balance is being restored and the once maligned sparrow is taking his place as the guardian of the wheatfield. Life is good.