Return of the House Sparrow

I am a keen watcher of the birds which come to my garden and have noticed a marked increase in the numbers of House Sparrows, or Passer domesticus, to give them their Latin name.

House Sparrows
House Sparrows

House sparrows have been in decline since the 1950’s and the species is now listed as being of high conservation concern.

Over the last few years I did not notice many house sparrows in my garden, so it is a welcome surprise to see so many this year.

Usual Spring Visitors

Of course, I have the usual visitors including tits, starlings, blackbirds, goldfinches, bullfinches  and a lesser-spotted woodpecker.

Noticeable absentees this spring are the collared doves who have been frequent visitors for a number of years now.

Coal Tits
Mother (right) feeds young bird

Attracting Birds to Your Garden

To attract birds to your garden you need to provide food for them. It  is best to place the food in feeders hanging from a tree or bird stand, rather than on the ground. This prevents the birds being caught by cats as they feed and also stops rats from visiting the garden.

Which Foods to Feed Birds

Coal Tit
Coal Tit

I tend to feed the birds fat balls, wild bird food, sunflower seeds, niger seeds and mealworms. All of these are placed in feeders suspended from a shepherd’s crook feeding pole and on some trees in the garden.

Most of the food is bought from pound shops, as it is good quality and is eaten by the birds. In the winter I also put nuts in the feeders, but stop this between March and October to avoid young birds choking on them.

Suet squares are excellent in winter, but are made from soft fat and will melt in the summer.

With the fatballs, it is advisable to remove the nets from them before placing  into the feeders, as the birds can damage their beaks or get tangled in the netting. Many shops now selling them without netting because of the problems it can cause to the birds.

Feeding Nuts to Birds

In the spring and summer avoid putting nuts in feeders as adult birds can feed these to their young and accidentally choke them. Use suet nibbles instead.

Provide Water

Water should also be provided in a shallow dish to prevent birds from drowning, as birds like to bath every day to get rid of mites in their feathers. They can also use it for drinking.

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