Daily Archives: February 5, 2009

Birds in Winter

The other morning I woke up to a winter’s scene.

Snow had covered the ground and the garden pond was frozen, so I knew I’d best feed and water the garden birds straight away.

At noon I had put bird food out three times that morning

  • In the early morning gloom
  • mid morning when I saw the empty feeders and saw the snow was still coming down
  • At noon when I threw some mixed bird food onto the bird tables. 

The photo below shows a frozen, snow covered, boring bit of garden just outside our kitchen window, but it always becomes a vibrant Cafe For Birds full of bird food and birdy customers. 

no-birdfood-for-birds

Bird Tables – where to position them

I have read two bits of different advice on where to position a bird table

One person said to put a birdtable near a hedge. If birds are in a hedge they can  dodge sparrowhawks etc.  Do not put a birdtable out in the open as a bird of prey has a clear view and can strike easily.

The second person said – Put yor bird table out in the open.  The garden birds have a clear all round view if you do that.

Which do you think is right?

House Sparrow Fact Sheet

house-sparrow-female-i-th

SONG

A variety of ‘cheep and chirp’
One of the reasons they sing is to keep in contact with the flock they are in.

FEEDING

House sparrows are seed eaters.  They means they have beaks that let them crack open the husk and get the seed from inside.  Many birds can’t do this.

House sparrows eat a variety of bird food and scraps.

Some food they enjoy –

  • nyjer seed
  • peanut granules
  • black sunflower seeds
  • millet
  • Also a variety of kitchen scraps

House sparrows pick insects from spiders webs. They feed their nestlings on insects.

House sparrows steal food from  the beaks of other birds.

Sparrows use bird tables, ground feeders and hanging feeders.

DESCRIPTION

The male house sparrow has

  • brown upperparts that are streaked with black
  • grey cheeks, rump and crown
  • black bin

Female and juvinile birds are –

  • more softly patterned
  • do not have the grey on the rump and crown
  • do not have the black on the head
  • They are plainer than the male

cockney-house-sparrow-mal1

HABITAT

House sparrows spend a lot of time in gardens and near buildings.  They feed communally.

After the young have fledged the parents use the nest as a warm roost during the winter months.

(Note:  I wonder if that explains what I saw last November when I saw a sparrow carrying nesting material in it’s beak.)

The young born that summer use ever greens to roost in during the cold winter nights.  They roost together for warmth and to survive.

(Note:  We have a lovely evergreen hedge that is full of birdsong in winter.  The area is alive with birdsong in winter.)

SIZE OF BIRD

Length 14 cm ( 5 1/2 inches)
Wingspan: 20-22 cm (8-9 inches)

EGGS

  • 2-3 clutches of 3-5 eggs
  • The eggs are brown blotched white eggs
  • The eggs are laid any time from April to August.

INCUBATION

  • Eggs are incubated for 11-14 days
  • Both parents incubate the eggs

FLEDGING

  • Fledging is 11-19 days after hatching

NEST

  • Lined with feathers and bits of plants
  • The nest is built by both parents
  • House sparrows usually nest near buildings
  • House sparrows sometimes make a nest which is domed.  They make this of different grasses in a tree or a hedge.
  • House sparrows have been known to chase house martins and swallows out of their nests.  The house sparrow then uses the ready built nest to rails its young.

OTHER HOUSE SPARROW NOTES

  • You rarely see a lone sparrow
  • The house sparrow rarely lives away from humans
  • House sparrows can survive in areas as diverse as the subartic towns of Sweden to the tropical cities of Brazil.

I put some wire round my bird table a while ago to keep out pigeons and rooks – here is a photo of some sparrows at the bird table – but Birdy Cafe was empty when they flew in.

Sparrows at an empty bird table

Sparrows at an empty bird table

If you have anything else that can be added about House Sparrows please let me know.