House Sparrow

House SparrowPasser domesticus

House Sparrows are one of the most familiar and popular garden visitors.  They live close to people and are a familiar sight in towns, nesting in buildings and feeding from scraps.  However, these gregarious little birds are in serious decline, with the UK population dropping by 65% since 1970.   Whatever the cause - modern farming techniques, air pollution, or lack of suitable nesting sites – the common house sparrow needs our help to survive.

Description:  House sparrows are small brown birds (6 in / 15cm), with black streaks and bib, a white wing bar and grey crown, cheeks and underparts.  Females, like young birds, have duller colouring than the male, with brown crown and pale stripe behind the eye. Their song is a simple repetition of chirps.  House sparrows are very sociable, and often form large feeding flocks in winter months.

Nesting and breeding: The main breeding season is between April and August, with up to three broods each year.  In courtship, several cock sparrows surround the hen, chirping loudly.  Pairs often stay together for life.  The male and female build an untidy nest of dry grass in a hole in a building or tree.   The female lays 3-5 white eggs, with grey and brown blotches.  Eggs are incubated mainly by the female for about 13 days, and the young are then fed by both parents for about 15 days. 

Where to see them

  • House sparrows can be found throughout Britain, feeding and breeding wherever there is human habitation
  • They are present all-year-round, and usually spend their whole lives close to their birthplace
  • Numbers have declined dramatically in recent years - particularly on farmland and in cities - placing the house sparrow on the RSPB's 'Red List'
  • What they eat

  • In the wild, house sparrows eat a wide variety of seeds and berries. They feed insects and larvae to nestlings 
  • In towns, house sparrows scavenge for bread and scraps, as well as visiting garden bird feeders
  •  They prefer to eat from the ground or bird tables, but will sometimes visit hanging feeders.
  • Recommended Farbrook Farm foods: Premium Softbill Mix, Sunflower Hearts, Peanuts, Suet Pellets
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