The House Sparrow is a common and easily dismissed bird whose constant chirruping is a familiar sound of many British gardens. Their population has declined by around 75% in the last 25 years and they have even disappeared from some parts of Britain, particularly densely urbanised areas. It is now on the conservation red list.
The House Sparrow can still be found in many parts of the world. Early settlers used to take them with them to remind them of home. The males and females are quite different with the female much drabber. The male could be confused for the much scarcer Tree Sparrow The size of the male’s black bib indicates the dominance of the male bird within its community and the bigger the bib, the more dominant the bird.
What They Eat & What You Can Offer Them
The House Sparrow will eat just about anything including sunflower hearts, high energy seed, peanuts, suet and kitchen scraps. A 1940’s scientific survey found 838 different types of food in the dissected stomachs of house sparrows.
House Sparrows will feed off anything you choose to put out for them, but avoid too much white bread.
Where They Live & How You Can Help Them
House Sparrows live in colonies around people and nest in holes or crevices in buildings, or among creepers growing on buildings. The nest is an untidy domed or cup-shaped structure of rubbish: paper, straw, string. They will readily use nest boxes, particularly terraced ones and will occasionally displace tits that are already nesting in single boxes.
The eggs are white with grey or blackish speckles, smooth and glossy. The 3-5 eggs are incubated in about 13 days.
The reason for the decline in House sparrows has been put down to many different reasons, mainly linked to reducing food supply as a result of less insects, or changes in farming practices. Lack of nesting sites in new buildings is another issue, plus food competition from Collared Doves as their range has expanded.
Thankfully, House Sparrows are now much less of a human food source than they were in the past. Sparrow pie was a popular dish that was thought to have aphrodisiac properties!