The house sparrow (Passer domesticus) is a bird of the sparrow family Passeridae. It is strongly associated with human habitats and can live in urban or rural areas. It is an opportunistic eater and its diet consists mainly of seeds of grains and weeds, as well as insects. Unfortunately, since the late 1970s the house sparrow has declined in urban areas across Europe and is now listed as a species of conservation concern. Monitoring shows a severe decline in the UK house sparrow population estimated as dropping by 71 per cent between 1977 and 2008 with rapid declines in both rural and urban populations. Causes of decline are due to pollution levels, insect abundance, nest site availability and human effects.Humans trapped, shot, netted and even ate millions of sparrows in the past. There are now thought to be 10 million less house sparrows in the UK than there were 25 years ago.
Sparrows love Insects
Insects are a vital food source for house sparrows, studies suggest that a decline in insects results in poor condition of chicks. The lack of insects is mostly due to urbanisation of natural and rural areas. You can help house sparrows by attracting insects to your garden.
- Have a wild area in your garden, do not tidy or mown the area.
- Plant insect friendly trees such as apple, oak, birch, willow and alder.
Make Nest Sites
There is a lack of nesting sites due to habitat loss. House sparrows prefer to nest in colonies in hedges or high up in buildings, especially in the old crevices.
- Help nesting sparrows by putting up nest boxes for them near the eaves of your house. One nest box is not enough for colonial nesting so put up a few side by side. Nest boxes can be placed 2 metres above ground on north to east sides of your house to avoid the hottest sun and coldest winds.
- Hedgerows or shrubs of hawthorn, elder and blackthorn around your garden can be planted where sparrows can take hide or even build nests of their own.
Providing food for House Sparrows in your garden is a great way to increase their chances of survival.
- Seed-bearing plants are good for adult house sparrows that require high energy for parenting.
- Garden feeders with mealworms combined with mixed seeds are a good source of protein for chicks.
- Avoid using pesticides which deplete the insects in your garden, try using natural pesticides.
- Provide water for birds in your garden to drink from and preen in, such as fountains and bird baths.
Thank you for reading this article and by taking action you should be expecting some feathered visitors real soon!! If you are interested in a field survey conducted by British Trust for Ornithology on House Sparrows please visit: http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw/about/background/projects/sparrows/field-survey
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