Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Garden Bird - House Sparrow.

The House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) is common throughout most of its world range and their populations have fluctuated throughout the centuries but with a gradual decline over the last 100 years. Over the last 25 years the UK population has declined by some 60 to 65% overall  which equates to an estimated loss of at least 7 million birds and it is now red listed as a species of high conservation concern.
When I first took up residence here in the early 70's House Sparrows were fairly common and visible around our garden and for many years nested in the eaves of a neighbours property but sometime in the mid 80's they disappeared only to return in the last 8 - 10 years. Their numbers fluctuate year on year but the resident adults usually raise two to three broods every year. These images were taken recently of one of this years youngsters, easily identified by the yellow bill, who was happy to sit and have its photo taken.   
Humans have had a love-hate relationship with this species throughout the ages mainly due to the damage it causes to grain crops which resulted in many unsucessful attempts to control its numbers. From the mid-18th up to the end of the 19th century bounties were even paid as previous measures failed. Various reasons for this species overall decline have been put forward; lack of suitable nesting sites; changes in agricultural practices; reduced availablity of insects for chicks and plant food in the winter; but the real reasons are still not fully understood. 
I am aware that in some parts of the world they are still considered pests but our garden would be less lively without the family squabbles and their constant chirriping as they regularly empty the seed feeders.    FAB.


  1. Hi Frank,
    Wonderful pictures that you got. I did not even know that they were on the red list of endangered species in your country!!

  2. Hi Frank....lovely post, something very dear to my heart.

    I love house sparrows....when I first moved here I rarely saw them.
    I am pleased to say that numbers have increased dramatically in the garden. I would not be without these cheerful chappies......

    Love your captures......

  3. Great post Frank. I feel lucky to have them breeding under our eaves. One male House Sparrow this year seems to be continually beating himself up against our bathroom window. I've tried various measure to disuade him to no avail!

  4. I adore Sparrows. We have a nice little gaggle of them in my garden at the moment which I'm very happy to see :).

  5. I esp. like that bottom left photo...the house sparrows are very common here in S. Dakota, USA, and common to our feeders, but I still enjoy watching them.

  6. House sparrows are certainly attractive and entertaining birds. I used to enjoy them a lot when I lived in town. They don't nest anywhere near where I live now and most years I never see one.

  7. WHile some folks may consider the sparrows as pests, I am not among them and much prefer these to the grackles and starlings that used to empty the feeders until I switched to safflower seed. Now the feeders still get emptied but by smaller birds that are more fun ot watch!

  8. Its difficult to understand why really Frank, as they are quite a resourceful bird with fairly flexible eating habits and habitats.

  9. As an introduced species on my side of the pond, it has become an invasive and pushes out many native species. So kind words for House Sparrow are not kindly received. But I have always thought they were hardy and adaptable birds, and the male very handsome. But it is odd that it has declined so sharply in its native home and thrives where introduced. Or perhaps no over here has bothered to count and monitor them

  10. I am glad they are back Frank for your enjoyment as well as these marvelous images. Certain birds can be pesky, yet they are what they are and we must all learn to appreciate them. Since th blind eyed Blue Jay incident, I have come to really like the Jays, and was not always so fond. Now I love watching them come to the feeders, they are a riot~

  11. The House Sparrows here a found mostly in the city!! Most people consider then scavangers!!
    They hang out and nest at places that sell plants bird seed and the like..often seen inside the buildings flying about!!
    I have not seen aroun where I am in a long time!!
    Great photos ...like the head tilt one!!

  12. Hi Chris. Despite high population count they are Red listed due to the overall dramatic fall in UK numbers...not the same elsewhere around the globe.

    Hi Cheryl. I'm delighted to hear that you also enjoy their daily chatter.

    Hi Jenny. Obviously wants to get inside for a wash and brush up..lol. Sorry, not sure there is much you can do.

    Hi Gaina. Great to learn you also have 'Spadgers' for company.

    Hi Jan E. He/she was obviously not looking at me! Good to hear you also enjoy watching them.

  13. Hi Steve W. Well at least you have other species to entertain you.

    Hi Beatrice. I know, greedy little beggars, but still fun to watch.

    Hi Roy. I agree, with all the technology at our disposal the lives of many species are still a total mystery.

    Hi Chris P. I fully understand your stance re invasive species. They are very adaptable so their decline over here is still a mystery.

    Hi Mary. I fully understand how your interaction with a previously unloved species can change your perception and put a smile on your face.

    Hi grammie g. A clever species that takes advantage of human activity. Glad you liked the shots.

  14. Like you say Frank, A garden wouldn't be so lively without their chirruping and squabbling.
    I love them when they come visiting.

  15. I love the light. Enjoyed each of these.
    I know its time to fill my feeders again now that Im home and try and get a bird or two. I did get one on my vaction.

  16. Hi Lisa. Nice to see you back from your vacation. Filling the feeders is now a daily task over here...they are all very hungry!!

  17. Great shots, Frank. I agree, they don't know they are a nuicanse. They are just birds being birds and who can really fault them for that?


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