What you can do
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
My 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
Modern 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
Diversify 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
Water 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.