The Not So Common House Sparrow

When I was young there were literally millions of house sparrows. Every time we raced round a corner we’d disturb a flock of thirty or forty birds off the street and on to the rooftops. Nowadays they’re nowhere near common, with a 70% reduction in numbers since the Seventies and not just in the urban areas.

I’m lucky to live in an area where I see sparrows quite regularly and the local council is currently monitoring the bird to see how the population is doing. In my garden in the last week or two it’s blossomed with a pair bringing their fledglings to the feeders.


Sparrows lay between 2 and 5 eggs and this pair seem to have hatched the maximum and Dad has been on feeding duties most of the time. He pecks away at the fat balls before passing it on to one open mouth after another. This suggests Mum is back on the nest as they can have up to four clutches in a good breeding season.


The young are beginning to get the hang of the feeders and can be seen precariously balancing on a small twig trying to reach the seeds rather than alight on the feeders built in perch. As their confidence grows they are becoming more adept.


These five will be added to the local survey and if the parents are as good at raising the next brood hopefully I can add their siblings. Maybe one day we’ll get used to seeing flocks again on our streets rather than the rare individual of recent years.



  1. bettylouise31 · July 2, 2017

    Here in the United States, the House sparrow is considered an alien species. Many forget that they feed on insects just the pictures of the adult killing young of other species. This is the most common bird in our environment.

    • spugwash · July 2, 2017

      Wow I wouldn’t expect these little things to kill other birds! I guess they’re different to our sparrows?

      • bettylouise31 · July 2, 2017

        An effort was made to help change the atitude. When I started birding in the fifties they were known as the English sparrow, some time later the name was changed to the house sparrow. It is one of the few birds you can kill legally. The starling is another, it was imported from England to control insects. They had no predators so both species took over the environment. Not we are more careful about importing species. The Russian Olive tree was imported to control erosion and has taken over in area. Lately, I noted that the fruit is now being ration by birds and probably other animals. Still no predator that I am aware. Almost every thing I learned in school is no longer accepted.

        • spugwash · July 2, 2017

          We have a number of alien species here as well. Some people love, like the Little Owl and some like the American Mink which are vilified. At the end of the day it’s not their fault they are where they are.

  2. doctor dolittle · July 3, 2017

    At feeding time, the baby sparrows in our garden like to line up along the fence and shake their wings in a kind of avian version of the haka. Their put-upon parents generally seem less than amused by this behaviour…

    • spugwash · July 3, 2017

      Bad enough the All Blacks doing the Haka every 5 minutes without sparrows starting haha!!!

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