Tag Archives: house sparrow

House Sparrow Diet

An interesting and worrying fact about the house sparrows has again been brought to my notice.

Kate Vincent who was a student at Leicester De Montford University made a detailed survey of house sparrows as part of her Univeristy Degree. 

After further study Kate found  shrubs which are not native to Britain are one of the reasons why house sparrows are declining.


HERE IS THE LINK TO MY BIRD FRIENDLY PLANT LIST –  it has a list of some of the plants, trees and shrubs that are good for birds.  If it is not clear I can email you a copy.

In 2007 Kate realised there are not enough insects for the parent birds to bring to the chicks and fledglings so the young starve in the nests.

A pair of house sparrows need to raise at least 5 chicks to keep the house sparrow population on an even keel. 

Many chicks die in the first week of their life.  When fledgelings fly the nest, they are sometimes undernourished and die soon after leaving the nest.  Isn’t that sad? 

In hedgerows and nest boxes all over England are parent birds unable to feed their young.

While we are sat in the sun enjoying our gardens or our local parks young birds could be starving nearby.

We are planting foreign plants in our garden which our native insects cannot survive in.  So there are less insects for the sparrows to feed their young.


A lot of people are also concreting over their gardens.  Maybe they do it because they do not like gardening.  If only people  realised an untidy garden is a haven for wildlife they may stop concreting their gardens.


We can help by planting native plants, shrubs in the garden so insects can survive and sparrows can survive too.

I cannot imagine Britain without the House Sparrow.  They have always been here.  I think I have seen a sparrow nearly every day.

When I was young, many years ago, sparrows were so common, but then again when I was young there were not so many cars and all the shrubs, trees, plants in the garden were good, solid British plants.

This morning I was wondering what would it be like for us if we had to go out and forage for our breakfast and could not just pour some milk over our cornflakes when ever we were hungry.

I have done a Bird Friendly Plant List which you could print off or, if you sent me your email address, I can email it to you.  HERE IS THE LINK TO MY BIRD FRIENDLY PLANT LIST

If you do print it off and take it to a garden centre, could you ask if you could leave a copy for other customers?  We should try and spread the word.  Kate did her survey in 2007 and sparrows are still in decline.

I am trying to make the list reader friendly and turn it into a leaflet,  so I hope you will be patient and use the list as it is for now. 

Or else buy Bird Friendly Plants there are plenty of them.

I will always put bird food out, but plants can help such a lot.

Have just put out cheese, birdfood and bread coated in lard before I wrote this.  Have a good day. Trisha

House Sparrow Fact Sheet



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


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.


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



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.)


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


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


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


  • Fledging is 11-19 days after hatching


  • 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.


  • 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.