If we were to ask you to name the first bird that comes to mind, chances are you would say "sparrow". With good reason: this spry little bird is the number one bird of almost all bird counts across Western Europe. What should you know about the house sparrow and the tree sparrow? Also, how can you attract sparrows with food?
Not called a 'house sparrow' for nothing
The sparrow is a small, stocky bird that lives in groups or "colonies", often near people and houses. If they’re chattering loudly, you can't miss them! If you want to attract sparrows to hear more of this lovely sound, here’s what you need to know about their habits:
An adult sparrow mainly eats seeds, grains, berries and flower buds. The young only get to eat flies, mosquitoes, beetles and other insects. Although swapping partners is commonplace de rigueur these days, a sparrow couple stays together for life.
Is the sparrow disappearing?
Unfortunately, yes. The house sparrow is a typical city bird that makes its nests in crevices and cracks in roofs and walls. It forages for food in wild, overgrown gardens and wastelands. But our houses are hermetically sealed, and many gardens are kept neat and trimmed back. Lawns are being replaced by terraces. Nests and hiding places are disappearing, making sparrows sitting ducks for preying cats. If you want to attract sparrows then think twice about how bird-friendly your garden is!
Relatives of the house sparrow
The tree sparrow is very similar to the house sparrow. You can tell them apart by the crescent-shaped black spot on their cheeks. They’re rarely spotted in the city: these birds prefer the countryside.
Do you want to attract sparrows to your garden?
By planting shrubs and natural hedges, you can greatly help many birds. But the sparrow itself makes little use of real shrubs. At most, it uses an old ivy as a nesting place. Having easy access to food and good nesting places, for example multiple nest boxes, are especially important for the sparrow.
It’s a good idea to feed sparrows all year round. In the spring, the sparrow needs food with extra proteins. During the summer months you can safely give it a versatile seed mixture. In the winter they can eat a little more fat.