House Sparrow Survey

Everyone knows the house sparrow but not many give it a second glance.  A detailed survey into sparrow breeding showed some reasons why urban sparrow numbers may be dropping.

I admire the sparrow.  I think, without realising it, I’ve seen at least one a day for the past 20 years.  I’ve taken this little sparrow for granted. 

Yet it’s success is closely tied to our own. 

Sparrows are thought to have spread across Europe from Africa at the time of Neolichic man!  So they have been connected to us through history.  What a story they would tell if they could speak.

Colonies of house sparrows that live near an isolated farm or on an island only seem to survive as long as man is there.  This ability they have to use what man provides enables them to have up to 3 broods a year.

Yet in some areas house sparrows are declining.  Farming methods have sometimes been blamed but this is not the complete picture.

Kate Vincent a student from Leicester’s University collected data about urban sparrows. 

Kate is very dedicated.  In 2007 she studied 619 nest boxes in Leicester which she put up over the previous three years.

She found that in urban areas the second or third broods of chicks are dying  in the nest.    The reason for this is unknown but starvation or infection could be a cause.

In some places the number of deaths is so big that the population of the house sparrow is dropping. 

One of the reasons could be that early and late broods do have different diets.  Spring chicks are fed on beetles and daddy longlegs.  The midsummer birds are fed on smaller insects like aphids.  Aphids are plant eating insects – so lets get planting!

When the chicks are born, when they are at their most vulnterable, they eat only insects   and if there are not enough insects they will die of starvation.

Kate’s research and survey is really  valuable. It is relevant today and does provides questions as well as answers.

I will see what else I can find out

4 thoughts on “House Sparrow Survey

  1. Pingback: Birds using herbal remedies to survive | Bird Table News

  2. Kathleen Phillips

    Here is my personal experience of the of the decline followed by increase of house sparrows in my garden.
    I first noticed the alarming absence of house sparrows about 8 years ago when listening to an old audiotape of my children playing in the garden in the 1970s. The most dominant sound, chrystal clear on the tape (you don’t find modestly priced tape recorders as good as that any more) was the constant chanting chirps and cheeps of sparrows. It sounded delightful yet I hardly noticed it at that time because it was something I’d heard all my life – it was part of life! “Am I so busy I don’t notice it now?” Of course not, I was kidding myself. I went into the garden to check – silence. I was devastated, when did they go? why? what happened? Sadly I hadn’t noticed until then because I was so delighted with the great variety of birds visiting my garden through years of constant feeding. Soon the media was talking about the decline in the sparrow population and it was all too real.
    This was about 8 years ago, and the ivy I had planted against the front wall of my house had reached the top, my next-door neighbours had followed suit and then the next house. We all put seed out and I have fatballs and peanuts outside my front window hanging from a cotoneaster which grows next to a pyracantha. Our gardens are bordered with hawthorn hedges, and we now have a large noisy community of HOUSE SPARROWS! The ivy seems to be the solution, because the hedges and the regular feeding were always there. The ivy covering the 3 houses is their home, passers by are heard to comment “oh look at the little birds going in and out the ivy!”
    We never have it trimmed at nesting time and are very careful all year round where we cut.
    So from personal experience the problem seems to be loss of habitat, like woven fences taking the place of hedges and roofs being sealed up. As regards polution from traffic being a possibility, we live on a busy road with a bus route even though it is a rural village.
    I hope my offering is of help to your survey.
    Yours faithfully
    Kathleen Phillips

  3. Trish Post author

    Thank you Kathleen. I have put your comment as an article on Bird Table News as I think it has so many points that we could all follow.

    It’s great that other people do practical things to help birds.

    I put bird food out early on a morning and at the moment have a blackbird that always sings a loud song as soon as I put the food out, then he comes zipping in near the food. So it is good to know that the birdfood is helping birds in the same way as your efforts are helping them.

  4. garth lowe

    The tale about house sparrows was very good news, but I would guess that they were somewhere not to far away as they are quite sedentary birds. What they were missing has now been replaced and they have returned to an old haunt. I live almost surrounded by woodland in West Worcestershire and have only seen one here, although I know there is a small colony less than quarter of a mile away. In our three parishes we still have thriving numbers but usually in the same places that have the combination of food, cover and somewhere to nest.
    On another subject of birds being territorial, the boss robin, who of course chases other robins off has decided that the small feeding trough hung under the bird table is his! I placed this so the wood pigeon didn’t clear all the seed up in one go but today I watched the robin attack a poor feeding blue tit, turning it on it’s back in the trough!!
    When I read peoples observations on bird topics, I often wonder which part of the country they reside, which is why I usually mention my part of the world.

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