What you can do

House sparrow on feederProvide seed all year round in your garden

House sparrows will always be appreciative of any seed you provide and will return to a site that they know to be plentiful. Sunflower hearts are a particular favourite and they always welcome fat balls. These are available from pet shops or garden centres. By providing seed all year round you are making sure house sparrows have enough food to survive the winter and continue breeding.

Provide mealworms in the summer

House sparrow eating mealwormMy research findings indicated that a lack of insect food during the summer is preventing many chicks from successfully fledging the nest. Therefore by providing mealworms to the adult birds during the summer months they can successfully feed their young a high protein diet. House sparrows are granivorous (only eat seeds and grass) all year round apart from when the chicks are in the nest and in need of better nutrition. Dried mealworms are available for the more squeamish of you and offer an excellent alternative to fresh.

Put a nestbox on your house

nestboxModern housing often prevents nesting opportunities for house sparrows and other species. Erecting a nestbox will provide a much needed home for your local sparrows. House sparrows will begin prospecting for nest sites as early as January in preparation for nesting in April through to August so aim to have your box sited as soon as summer ends in preparation for the next year’s brood.

The nestboxes for my research were provided by CJ Wildbird Foods but they are also readily available from your local garden centre. Why not try building your own? But don’t forget that you need a 32mm sized entrance hole to accommodate house sparrows. Avoid south facing walls and put the nestboxes as high as you can under the eaves of your home.

Plant native species in your garden

House sparrow in hawthorn bushDiversify the structure of informal and formal shrub stands to create foraging and shelter opportunities. Plant native species in your garden and allow areas of your lawn to grow long which will encourage more insects and will provide meals for house sparrows and other garden birds.

House sparrows need hedges to roost and socialise in and species such as hawthorn and privet are particularly welcomed. Climbers such as ivy and honeysuckle provide excellent cover and nesting opportunities for urban house sparrows.

Provide bird baths all year round in your garden

House sparrow in bird bathWater is necessary for drinks and bathing. Providing a bird bath fulfils both requirements and will be used by all garden birds. Ensure that the water levels are maintained in the warmer months and frequently checked when freezing is possible.

Further tips about how you can provide for house sparrows as well as other urban ecology matters can be found at my blog. Please subscribe to the RSS feed to receive regular updates.

5 Replies to “What you can do”

  1. I’m a “sparrow person”. I live in Chicago, USA. I work directly across from the Sears Tower skydeck (Jackson Blvd. side by the 311 S. Wacker park). Here in Chicago you’ll find alot of pigeons, gulls and sparrows. I’ve been feeding birds here for about 3 years. Many pigeons have gained my trust as they’ll sit across the street atop a Sears Tower wall waiting for me to arrive every morning around 9:30A. It’s always the same 9 or 10 birds!! LOL!! The “little brown jobs” sit in the tree on my side of Jackson Blvd. waiting for me also. One little male with one leg, which is a recent guest, usually approaches me about one foot away and asks for food. I do everything I can to make sure the sparrows get their share of food as the pigeons interfer most of the time. I feed my babies sunflower hearts, bread, donuts, etc. They’re intelligent, aggresive little birds and they’re quick enough to pick up any food before the pigeons reach it. I feel good that I’ve probably helped the LBJs maintain their nests for the past few Springs and I also make a pilgrimage there in the Winter to make sure they’ve got enough to eat.

  2. I live in Jersey, a small island of the coast of France. We have some house sparrows nesting in our neighbours gutter. They have had a baby and he/she has fallen into our garden. This baby cannot fly and I am worried about it because our other neighbours have a cat which always tries to eat the birds. Needless to say, it can never quite catch any because they are safe in their gutter. But, since the baby is stuck in our garden, and on the ground, the cat may catch it. I have put out a bowl of water for them to drink and bathe in, but I’m not quite sure what else I can do, because I don’t have any mealworms or sunflower seeds. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    1. Many thanks for your concern as at this time of year there are many juvenile sparrows fresh out of the nest. It maybe that the bird cannot fly but it is probably more likely that because the bird has recently fledged it won’t move until it is fed by its parents. Baby sparrows are dependent on their parents for the first 2 weeks so they hang around in bushes not moving but they are often constantly begging for food. Usually the parents will encourage the sparrows to at least fly up into a bush or tight in a hedge so they can’t be seen or predated. Their parents are often not too far away, so although I fully understand your concern I am sure that the baby sparrow will be kept under close watch and will be kept safe. However, thank you for being vigilant and for having the sparrows’ interests at heart.

    1. The male House Sparrow has a brown back with black streaks. The top of his crown is grey, but the sides of his crown and nape are chestnut red/brown. It’s chin, throat, and upper breast are black, and his cheeks are white. Females and juveniles have a brown crown and a light brown or buff eye stripe. The throat, breast, and belly are greyish-brown and unstreaked.

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