The cheeky house sparrow is in trouble, with populations declining by over 60% in towns and cities in the last 40 years. This catastrophic drop has moved our old friend onto the red conservation list – meaning it is a species of high conservation concern.
Research is being done to figure out just why the population is in this downward trend – some suggest that pollution in towns is affecting their ability to source insects to feed their chicks, some suggest a loss of habitat due to agricultural changes.
Today I decided to spend some time in my garden watching them on the feeder and hovering on the grass looking for their next tasty snack. My local house sparrows make the most of the unsealed roofing along my street, and are often seen busily flitting between garden hedges and shrubs, especially now there are more flowers in bloom attracting insects.
They are regular guests at my bird feeder, often finding opportunities to squeeze in between bickering starlings or going for feeders which are a little more discreet/out of the way. They’re definitely opportunistic and smart birds.
The best tip I’ve heard for working out if you’re seeing a house sparrow or a tree sparrow is to look at the top of the male’s head – if it’s grey like slate on a roof, it’s a house sparrow. If it’s brown like the bark of a tree, it’s a tree sparrow! Smart huh!
They’re really fun to watch, and it’s a real shame to see the statistics of their decline, but we can all do small things to help. Ensure you’ve got a well stocked bird feeder providing opportunities for the adults and fledglings to feed is a great way to help them, as well as a great way to watch them! Also having nest boxes in groups provides them with places to nest as a community – their preferred way of nesting.
I’ve not yet spotted any fledglings from my local flocks, it seems quite late to have not seen any but perhaps they’ve found safer spaces elsewhere to feed. The adults are very active in feeding and are making light work of the fat balls I’m putting out. I’ll keep an eye out and let you know how it goes!
Keep It Wild
Remember to keep track of the rest of my 30 Days Wild adventures here:
Instagram – @wildly_pip
Twitter – @wildlypip
WordPress – Wildly Pip